The Divine Right of Kings

The Mad Monarchist has posted an interesting article on the history of “the Divine Right of Kings”. While the concept had its roots in Judaism and carried into Christendom, one can study history to see where other pagan rulers claimed deistic authority to rule. Even the Bible supports the notion that Jehovah, through His Providence seats and unseats rulers as He desires. One excellent example from the Scriptures is the account of Nebuchadnezzar’s pride and fall, his descent into insanity, and his restoration:

28 All this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months he was walking in the royal palace of Babylon. 30 The king spake and said, Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for the royal dwelling-place, by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty? 31 While the word was in the king’s mouth, there fell a voice from heaven, [saying], O king Nebuchadnezzar, to thee it is spoken: The kingdom is departed from thee: 32 and thou shalt be driven from men; and they dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field; thou shalt be made to eat grass as oxen; and seven times shall pass over thee; until thou know that the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will. 33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hair was grown like eagles’ [feathers], and his nails like birds’ [claws].

34 And at the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up mine eyes unto heaven, and mine understanding returned unto me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him that liveth for ever; for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation. 35 And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

36 At the same time mine understanding returned unto me; and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and brightness returned unto me; and my counsellors and my lords sought unto me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent greatness was added unto me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven; for all his works are truth, and his ways justice; and those that walk in pride he is able to abase. (Daniel 4:28-37, ASV)

We also learn from the “handwriting on the wall” that Jehovah can quickly topple regimes as he chooses. MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. (Daniel 5:25, ASV). We only get a glimpse of the hand of the Lord guiding the affairs of a limited number of nations in the Scriptures. He tells us that the children of Israel were his covenant people, though whom the Christ was born, and we see that special relationship, but we get glimpses into His interest in other nations in accounts such as that of Jonah.

We don’t know how God administers the affairs of the nations of the Earth. As Americans, we see no place for the Divine Right of Kings in our society. There is no dynastic family that rules over us, we stick to the quaint notion that “We the People” rule our own affairs.

Does God actively seat the presidents of the United States? One could argue that we are free moral agents and we set our own fate. I don’t discount the Providence of God to direct the affairs of even the United States of America. How many current events are being guided by His invisible hand? How deep is His involvement. We don’t know, and can’t. Many have preached repentance for the end was near (and for each of us it is, for we are not guaranteed another moment of life) throughout the history of this land. We’ve had revivals, and we’ve had moments of national irreverence toward the Lord. Whether we believe in Him, as a nation, or not, He is still there, guiding the outcome of mankind to His desires.

Many conservatives in this nation believe we are a Christian nation, a Nation under God. They lament the impending punishment we are bringing upon ourselves for our godlessness. I won’t argue against that possibility. We have been blessed, to be sure, and we might have that blessing and protection withdrawn should we continue to disregard the Lord in our society overall. I can only address the matter at the only level that I have true influence: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve Jehovah, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Jehovah.” (Joshuah 24:15, ASV)

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