Who Sits on My Heart's Throne?
The Crown is one of Netflix most successful series. It’s a dramatic telling of historical events surrounding the British monarchy during the rule of Queen Elizabeth II. The show’s critics say it is overly dramatic and does not depict history accurately. The problem with that critique is viewers really don’t care about accuracy; they are all about the story. And there is just something about royal families and their lives we cannot resist. We are fascinated by them.
The recent death of Queen Elizabeth II demonstrates how the lives of royalty still resonate with many even in 2022. People flew in from all over the world to pay their respects to the Queen. At times the lines to walk past her coffin were over 24 hours long – and families brought their children. Children! Even with the array of pubs available for a pint along the way and the portable loos for bathrooms, I do not feel there is anyone in my life worthy of this kind of commitment.
But thus is the devotion in the hearts of many for England's longest reigning monarch.
As a young woman Queen Elizabeth vowed to serve crown and country for the remainder of her adult life. And she did. Love her or hate her, one is hard pressed to find a problem with her loyalty or commitment to the United Kingdom.
But there-in lies the rub. The United Kingdom. A Kingdom made rich long ago on the acquisition of countries, people, and property through war and tyranny.Our current view of the royal family is a picture crafted over years of careful choreography and image building. The power of the UK monarchy is certainly no longer political. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II went to great lengths to stay neutral in all things politick. And for the most part she succeeded.
The power of the current royal family is more in their roles as image-bearers. The ability to make or break livelihoods based on what they wear, who they talk to, trips they take or causes they endorse. And tourism. The amount of money pulled in through those who visit the various royal estates is estimated in the hundreds of millions annually. This doesn’t include magazines, publications, pubs, storefronts, and other businesses who make money by using the royal family name. It seems even non-political monarchies are so enmeshed in their given societies it is impossible to think of said society without them. When you think of England what immediately comes to mind? For ninety-nine percent of us it’s royalty.
There is a psychology behind our love for Kings and Queens that is fascinating. Israel was content with God-appointed judges for many years, until they weren’t. At the end of Samuel’s time as Israel’s judge, Kings and Queens in neighboring nations were providing for their kingdoms in ways coveted by the people of Israel.
When the judge Samuel grew old, the elders of Israel gathered together and said the following, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” (1 Samuel 8:4)
Ironically, at the time Samuel is acting as his own mini monarchy by appointing his sons as judges. That is certainly a problem in need of addressing. But instead of petitioning Samuel and God about Samuel’s sons, the elders come up with their own solution. A quick fix. “Give us what they have over there – we want that!” Their hearts are turning from their Creator-King and towards worldly possessions and comforts.
Samuel took the elders’ request to God.
1 Samuel 8:6-9 says, “And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.’” Ouch.
God knows his people. He knows their hearts, and those hearts are turned away from their King with a capital 'K' and instead focused on earthly provisions and human power. I've got to take a moment to comment on God's patience here, because goodness gracious this is a cycle on repeat. The same coveting of earthly delights, the same lack of faith and trust in God's provision. Over and over and over again.
Samuel tells Israel's elders how future kings will take their land, servants and possessions, and will use Israel's sons for selfish wars and their daughters for their own royal households. The elders of Israel care not for their children or the livelihoods of their people. Their eyes are big and they are drunk on the possibilities, craving more worldly success than God is providing. God allows them their poor choices and appoints a King. And everything goes exactly as God warned. Because God does not lie.
I love this definition of REPENTANCE! Repentance is “the act of turning away from places of false trust and putting our faith in God alone and what he chooses to provide.” (Developing a Discerning Heart, Entrust Ministries).
When we repent, we are not simply saying “I’m sorry” for a perceived wrong. We are pivoting our hearts (our mind, will and emotions) and refocusing on God our King and away from worldly desires driving our beliefs and behavior. Human nature does not change. I am still in need of a Lord and Savior who is ruler and King. The question is who or what do I chose to place on my heart's throne?
God will not be regulated to the little seat. Trusting in earthly hopes and dreams to fix our ills is not a long term solution. Whether our hearts are tuned in to sports, careers, money, possessions, social media, politics, world leaders, presidents, pastors, relationships, addictions, or kings and queens, the message remains the same. Earthly kings in all forms will rob us of our children, our relationships, our time, our resources, our peace and our joy.
Replacing personal places of false trust with faith in our Creator takes work and intentional diagnosis of our individual struggles. There are days I feel confident in the direction of my heart, still other days where I am discouraged by ongoing pain or bitterness. However, God's place does not change. He is there on The Throne whether I place him there or not. The certainty of that is both comforting and awe-inspiring.