God's Original Intent for a King (Gen. 1:26)
From the start, God intended for humanity to rule over and care for his Creation. In Gen. 1, plants, birds and land animals all reproduce “according to their kinds.” The theme is pounded home when we read the word “kind” 10 times thru the second half of chapter 1 (Gen. 1:11, 12, 21, 24, 25). Plants make other plants after their kind. Fish make other fish after their kind. Birds make other birds after their kind. Land animals make other land animals after their kind. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness’” (Gen. 1:26).
What does it mean to be made in the image and likeness of God? Could it be that humanity has an eternal nature like God? Could it be that humanity has both a moral nature and knowledge of self like God? Of course! But if we just keep reading the text tells what it means, “And let them have dominion over the fish…birds…livestock…” (Gen. 1:26). “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish…birds…” etc. (Gen. 1:28). Twice, God says, “I have given you” (Gen. 1:29-30). Finally, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen. 2:15). God made humanity to be responsible for his Creation. Psalm 115:16 says, “The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.” The dominion mandate does not point to ruthless tyranny, but to a shepherd who cares for and looks after those under his rule.
King David reflected on God’s plan in Psalm 8,
1 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. 2 Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. 3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? 5 Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, 7 all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. 9 O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
The shepherd does not only care for his flock, but he protects them as well. Psalm 8:2 explains at least one of God’s concerns for putting mankind in this role, “you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.” This is one reason why Adam’s do-nothing approach in the Garden was so terrible. God created him specifically to keep and protect God’s world from the Serpent, and he failed.
Psalm 8 is sandwiched between reminders that everything should point to God’s majesty (Ps. 8:1, 9). God did not create humanity to be God, but to do God’s work and care for God’s things (i.e. to have dominion over, subdue, work and keep). Humanity was/is to be God’s Regent, those who rule on his behalf.
This original intent of Creation will guide the conversation about David’s Kingship. Is he caring for, shepherding, keeping, etc. God’s people and God’s things on God’s behalf according to God’s desire? This will determine whether his actions are right and good or wrong and bad.
This study is about David, but this conversation is incomplete without pointing to God’s ultimate fulfillment of his original intent through Jesus. Daniel told about a day in the future (from his perspective) when God would destroy the kingdoms of man and build a new kingdom that will never be destroyed (Dan 2:34, 44-5). This kingdom will be ruled by the one who represents everything that God intended from the start, “And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed” (Dan.7:13-14). David also pointed us towards this future Messianic Kingdom (read Ps. 2).
This King, of course, is Jesus, and the good news that he reigns as Lord is the Gospel (Mk. 1:14-15). He is not a despotic overlord, but humble and willing to be spent for the good of God’s Creation (Phil. 2:5-11). He came to restore God’s intent from the beginning and to make new what has been lost.
Will you bow your knee to King Jesus and submit your life to his rule?