Consider these scriptures.
Judges 21:25 “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
Proverbs 21:2 “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes…”
Proverbs 12:15 “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who is wise listens to counsel.”
Those passages have been on my mind lately.
I’ve certainly seen it prove true in my time on this spinning rock. People will do all kinds of sinful, wrong things and find ways to feel justified or even at peace about those things. I guess we could call it compartmentalized thinking or even sociopathic. But it’s more of a journey than that.
It’s interesting that, as I said in another article, I recall learning in a sales training session that people buy things based on their emotions. They emotionally want something so badly that they find a way to justify it rationally. It might not really be rational, and usually isn’t, but it will give them that feeling of peace about what they want to do.
It might be relief from something, as in buying a cool drink on a hot day. It might be for pride in buying a fancy car. Or it might be buying pornography to embrace lust. Either way, the purchase is based on emotion and then justified rationally in some way so we’ll feel good about it.
That’s what Proverbs 21:2 is saying. We’re intelligent enough creatures that we’ll find ways to justify and rationalize anything we want to do or else we wouldn’t do them. We’ll find a way to make it right in our own eyes.
But you see, Judges 21:25 reveals something more disturbing about that desire when it says, “In those days, there was no king in Israel…”
I think there was a king! There were many kings in fact. Each man was his own king and easily justified doing whatever he wanted no matter who it hurt or how wrong it truly was. And when you are your own king, no one else has the right to tell you, the king that what you’re doing is wrong. After all, you have rationalized what you’ve done and have your own royal approval for it.
But other folks might speak of another King, this one being the King of the universe. What should be done about Him?
Remember how I said we are intelligent creatures? I assure you we are even though we’re certainly not always smart in using that intelligence. And we are also immensely complex. There are so many factors going on inside our heads they might as well be a Rubics Cube of thought combinations and influences.
So when a point comes to us that damages the royal status of the king we have made of ourselves, we dismiss it even though somewhere inside of us we know the implications. So we “shoot the messenger.” Or we muddy the waters of the issue just to add another arrow to our imaginary arsenal of justification.
And, as with most dictators, we cannot have defection in our kingdom. If a few brave friends attempt to intervene to save us from ourselves, they’re charged with treason against our throne. So like Stalin and Hitler we remove from our presence those who disagree. No one will question the king!
And so there we are in our world where the king with our same name and social security number gives royal decree to allow us to do what we want. Those other judgmental folks who used to be called brothers are so wicked for opposing me! How dare they! They will not question the king!
We might also compose a round table of knights who agree with the king we have put on the throne. That ought to shut up that tiny voice inside suggesting those judgmental low-lifes might be right about paying attention to the One claiming universal kingship. So we assemble voices who agree that those others are wicked and judgmental. They also agree that the sins of the opposition muddy the water enough to distract. Even a technicality counts in the debate against yourself when you’re wanting to justify something.
And whenever that tiny voice begins, “But that doesn’t change the fact that….!” we silence and banish it by adding more knights to the round table. These knights don’t just deflect the attention to those who questioned our own right to the throne of deciding right from wrong. They do something even worse. They tell us that the desire in question has the blessings of the universal King.
And for a time, that last voice of opposition inside our head is banished and we have enough justification to provide that numbing peace that cancels out all the other pesky thoughts and voices.
And there will be no king in Israel.