Q&A: The Bible's Portrayal of God as King

The Bible's Portrayal of God as King

In what senses can we say that God is a king?

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Answer

Well, there are a number of portrayals of God in an authoritative position throughout the Scripture, particularly in the Old Testament, but New and Old. In an authoritative position God can be portrayed as a parent, God can be portrayed as a shepherd. One of the most common, particularly in the Old Testament, is God being portrayed as a king. Now, in contemporary understanding, that can be confusing because a number of kings that we know of or think of are either really pompous or are some sort of despot. But in the ancient world, the common form of government would have been of a monarch, of a ruler with complete and absolute authority. God fits that. God fits that better than any human monarch because he really is in control, he really does have the authority to make commands and demands and issue decrees that we are, as his subjects, being his creatures, are obliged to obey. His commands are good; his commands benefit the subjects that are under that obligation, and thus its appropriate to refer to God and portray God as a benevolent king.

Answer by Dr. Todd Mangum

Dr. Todd Mangum is Professor of Theology and Academic Dean of Biblical Theological Seminary.