In a time when governments and kingdoms seem to fail us. It’s important to remind our kids that God still rules the world. But how do we teach them? Sally Michael gives us some advice.
When you were little, did you ever sit on someone’s lap and steer the car down the driveway? When you got out of the car, did you think, “I drove the car!”? Did you really drive the car? Who really drove the car? In some ways, we are all like little children, thinking we are driving the car. We think we are in charge, controlling things, when really God is the driver—He is controlling all things. Powerful people especially, like kings and presidents, might think they can control things. But God is really still in charge. A king might be on the throne of his country, but God is on the throne of heaven! He is the King of Kings. “For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods” (Psalm 95:3).
God is the one writing the story of the world, not kings, rulers, or presidents. Do you know who decides who will be the next president? In the end, it is not the people who vote for him, but the God who rules over all things. God, not kings and rulers, is who makes countries great or weak.
The people of Israel had a king—the very best king. God was their Ruler. But they decided they wanted a man for a king, like all the other people had. Was that a good idea—to trust a man instead the all-knowing, all-powerful, good God? Did they understand that God is the best ruler of all?
It was a bad thing that Israel really didn’t want God’s rule. So God gave them a man as a king to teach them a lesson. This was already part of God’s plan for Israel. Even before Saul was born, God had chosen Saul as the king of Israel. So God sent the prophet Samuel to crown1 Saul as king.
But Saul wasn’t king for very long before he forgot that God is the greatest Ruler and all His laws are good and right. Instead of bowing to the King of Kings and obeying God as the greatest and wisest Ruler, Saul disobeyed God and did not follow God’s instructions. Saul thought he could disobey the King of Kings just because he was the king of Israel.
Is it okay for anyone to disobey God? No, not even a king has the right to disobey God. A king is not greater than God. A king cannot change God’s commands. A king does not know all things. Only God has the right, power, wisdom, and goodness to rule the world well. So every king and leader needs God.
But Saul did not trust God or thank God for His help. He did not have a heart that followed God. When Saul led the army of Israel to fight against the Amalekites and won, Saul set up a statue to show his own greatness. Saul did not proclaim the greatness and worth of God. He did not give God the glory for being strong and winning over the enemy.
In the end, because Saul did not have the heart to follow God and did not want God’s rule over him, God would not let him be king any longer. God was showing Israel who really is in charge and who is the Most High.
Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. (Daniel 2:20–21)
There was another king who did not recognize God as the King of Kings. He didn’t rule over Israel like Saul; he ruled over Babylon, and his name was Nebuchadnezzar. God made Babylon a great country and helped Nebuchadnezzar to build beautiful buildings. But instead of thanking and worshiping God for being the Most High, the King of all things, this is what Nebuchadnezzar said: “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30).
What was wrong in Nebuchadnezzar’s heart? Why does this dishonor God? No one can take away the praise that belongs to God. God is the great King over all kings. He is the one who makes kings to be kings. He is the one who makes countries strong or weak. He is the one who gives all good things. But Nebuchadnezzar did not recognize all that God did for him. Nebuchadnezzar boasted about his own greatness instead of the greatness and worth of God.
What do you think God did about that? “While the words were still in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you’ ” (Daniel 4:31). God took away all the power, money, and respect Nebuchadnezzar had. He was no longer a great king. Now he had nothing to be proud about. He was not in charge. Even kings are ruled by God. Kings and presidents rule for only a little while. But God rules forever.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:34–35)
It is good for us all to remember that kings and presidents are just men who God rules over. He makes them rulers, and He takes their rule away. Rulers can do only what God lets them do. They can rule only as long as God lets them. They cannot do whatever they want—no one can do that but God. Every ruler, just like every person, needs God.
Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne. (Psalm 47:6–8)
Suggested Activity: With your family, make a list of three to five people who rule your city, state, or country. Find one or two verses you can pray for them. Make a prayer list with these names and verses. Pray together as a family.