In Part 1 I focused on the “Priest’s” response to the death of Osama Bin laden. Now we take a look at how someone with the disposition and temperament of a King might respond.

To Serve and Protect As leaders Kings build infrastructure and make decisions. Of course we all must make decisions, and will do so according to our temperaments, but someone who approaches life as a King, finds it easier to do so than say, the “Priest”. They are action oriented, have a knack for building allegiances and coalitions, and are willing and able to make the tough decision. They are able to take that which is complex and make it, well, less complex, so that goals are clarified, and action taken. Yes, they might be bold, but if the King stays connected to the people they serve and their real life concerns, they will lead with both strength and compassion, to protect and serve.  

 An excellent example in scripture of one who exhibited this leadership quality of a King, is ironically one who was not a king at all, but a cupbearer to a king who had conquered Israel: Nehemiah. Nehemiah was a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, and he exhibited incredible leadership and organizational skills. Artaxerxes was King of the Persian Empire (now Iran) and had already conquered Israel and a host of other nations in battle. The Jews who had escaped and survived the conquest, continued to live in Jerusalem under subjection to Artexerxes, but the city and its walls, were in ruin, as were the people, who were living defeated lives far removed from their former glory:

 The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah: In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, ‘Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.’”

 We still have memory of the devastation that took place on September 11. The image of the ruin of the Twin Towers is indelibly seared into our nations psyche. The lives that were lost, the economic downturn, the spiritual and existential crisis that was the result of this event not only left the Towers in rubble, but left us feeling as the Jews must have felt during then aftermath of their attack, “In great trouble and disgrace.   

What was amazing to me after 9/11, was the way we as a nation came together, and rallied around the people of the city of New York. We began to clear away the rubble, and bring healing and restoration to lives that had suffered great loss. But we also took steps to secure our borders, cover our economic base, and evaluated and improved our infrastructure and defenses. It was because of the foresight and skilled leadership of earlier “Kings” that we have a foundation from which to fortify and rebuild. This is the gift of good Kings, and the legacy they leave behind.

But imagine if the attack on New York hadn’t stopped there. Imagine both the city and the nation experiencing such devastation by an overwhelming attack of invading forces; the unimaginable loss of lives; our infrastructure dismantled; important significant landmarks and memorials destroyed; places of worship defiled; and our defeated forces and leaders paraded through the streets like trophies, their shame exposed, so that neighboring countries would be warned of what happens to their enemies (this was the way of the Godless nations in scripture).  Imagine many of the best and the brightest of our nation taken into captivity to serve the expansion and welfare of a foreign kingdom, while those left behind fend for themselves, as best they can, subjects of a foreign ruler who cares little for their welfare. This is exactly the situation Israel found itself in; in great distress and ruin.  

Reconstruction and Restoration So Nehemiah, a trusted servant and administrator of the King, requested that he would be allowed to go and rebuild the city of his ancestors, with full provision from the king. We look at ground zero and wonder what’s taking so long to build a memorial, but Nehemiah was looking at an entire city and its inhabitants, still demoralized by the destruction and now unable or unwilling to rebuild. He goes back to their Ground Zero. But he doesn’t dwell on the past, or their losses for long. Nehemiah’s focus is on reconstruction and restoration, not on inciting the people to fight new wars, nor instigation of greater conflict with present enemies. Sure, the detractors among his own people who had a vested interest in his failure opposed him, and even tried to get him to make decisions that would cause their enemies to rise up against him. Men who benefited by leaving things exactly like they were, resisted him and tried to deceive him into making decisions that would cause him to lose credibility with the people and the surrounding nations, and disqualify him from leadership. But he succeeded by staying focused on the task at hand.

At this time, a King would be less inclined to second guess or justify his actions, because for this type the justification for taking action was already determined and successfully executed based on goals that were set before hand. His attention will now be focused on the continued rebuilding of walls and restoration of people; on providing for and protecting the people within his sphere of responsibility.

Nehemiah, surveyed the damage; communicated a clear vision to the people, a vision of the great nation God had called them to be, and instilled in them the belief that they could be that nation once again. Each man was assigned a task, given their part of the wall, the city, and their homes, to rebuild. They were called into account, and to a place of responsibility. They were to work with a tool in one hand and a sword in the other – diligent at work, but ever vigilant and watchful of attacks from the enemy.

From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, 18 and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.” (Neh. 4:16-18)

Nehemiah rebuilt their infrastructure, gave everyone meaningful work to do, brought to their remembrance their vision statement for living in community, The Pentateuch (their version of the Constitution), and rooted out crooks and thieves who profited off the backs of the working people.  He dealt harshly with businessmen who were guilty of usury (charging any interest whatsoever to kinsmen was forbidden in scripture, let alone the exhorbitant ones we see today), and who thereby had made slaves of their kinsman. He regulated how they were to do business with one another so that those who were wealthy could no longer exploit the less powerful. He, along with the prophets, also called them back into a covenant relationship with their God, reminding them that neglect of this relationship was why they were in such distress. It was their moral failure that had made them vulnerable to attack, not their lack of military strength:

“For unless God watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” (Psalm 127:1)

Nehemiah knew this to be true, so along with all of his administrative gifts and leadership abilities, and the defenses he set in place, he was sure to make the kind of reforms that ensured that the people would live in community in such a way that promoted the peace and welfare of all, protecting them not only from enemies outside their walls, but from attacks from within. He called them to a higher standard; a God inspired vision of what it means to live in community.  

I believe that a good example of a Kingly response to Osama Bin Laden’s death would be modeled in the gifts and mission seen in Nehemiah. Kings, whether government leaders, civic leaders, or leaders of households, can learn a lot about how a Kingly temperament would respond to recent events by observing nehemiah in action. Even though recent events are not the same as those that faced Nehemiah, I believe that this type of personally would respond to Bin Laden’s death as an execution of God-given delegated authority:

“For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrong doer.” (Romans 13: 4)

This type is now less focused on “how do I respond to Bin laden’s death”, in fact, they may grow impatient with such “Priestly” considerations; it isn’t active or decisive enough for the Kingly type. The King is now thinking, now that action has been taken, and the threat to others neutralized, how do we as a Nation, a Business, a Community, a Family, go about rebuilding our lives; how do we reconstruct what was weakened, or exposed as insufficient protection for those I’m responsible for; and how do we restore a vision of Faith, Hope, and Love, so that the people may once again flourish, just as God intended. This is the perspective, and function of a King, and the task at hand.

Next: Part 3 – The Prophetic Response

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