“But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king!”
A leader can make himself look like a great king, or he can choose to be one, no matter how that looks.
King Josiah had helped the poor and needy. King Jehoiakim used them to erect a palace of cedar.
Jehoiakim did what was best for himself, and abused others to meet his own needs. Josiah did what was right, and all his needs were met.
“‘That is why God blessed him. He gave justice and help to the poor and needy and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know me?’ says the Lord.”
A leader that knows the Lord chooses to do what’s right, uses his power fairly and gives his resources to care for those who need help. A leader who walks before his God knows that this is what pleases Him. The security of the kingdom against enemies, the needs of the palace, his own welfare…those are all things the Lord can handle, things the king cannot ensure by his own means anyway.
But God would have leaders turn their attention to the ones who depend on them for justice and could benefit from what power they do have, rather than obsess over the things they cannot control. And all would be well.
It is easy to become consumed with ourselves and our needs and our worries and devote all our time to a well-fortified, shiny outside.
But cedar palaces do not make great kings.
When we prioritize how we look, we often sacrifice who we are. We build a veneer that suffocates the life on the inside.
And I would rather be a good person than look like an impressive one.
I would rather hand over all that is too much for me to my God and just see to those areas where I do have the power to make a difference. I would rather relax, knowing I do not have to impress everyone else. I am free to just walk before Him. He handles all my needs, so that I can set my focus on others. And All will be well.
I do not have to chase after the things the world prizes. He is the highest prize.
I am not a king, but the choice is mine all the same. Will I build up palaces or people?
Make me brave to live as Josiah did, to serve you as a daily routine.
To “eat and drink and do justice and righteousness.” (Jeremiah 22:15)
Teach me to prioritize doing what’s right, not just what is best for me; to decide to please you, not just to please myself; to care for others because I know that I am cared for.
Help me to know what it is to know you, Lord.
And thank you for the freedom and transformation that brings. Because knowing you creates life on the inside, even if the outside isn’t so shiny.