“The king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God will glory in him”.

Ps 63:11 NIV

We live today in countries which allow and tolerate the observance of a number of religions. It is considered normal and sensible to allow individuals the right to follow whatever religion they prefer – and to respect the variety of such preferences. Normally the democratic government does not interfere with religious institutions and takes very little notice when religious leaders make statements about matters of state.

It was very different in the days of the Old Testament. It had been the custom to assume that all Israel’s leaders would worship Jehovah-God. Those people who followed any other religion were regarded as being disloyal to God. But there grew up the feeling that they needed a secular king to lead the state and conduct its defence. Without such a political leader there was a vacuum. When they chose a king, he was appointed and anointed by the High Priest because he (the king) was deemed to be God’s servant and his gift to his people.

The normal situation today is for the church and the state to exist in distinction from each other with each respecting the separate spheres of operation of the other. However, the church regards it as its duty to watch the state to ensure that it safeguards the interests of the common people and allows religious freedom. A head of state may practice a respected form of religion or not, but the main religious bodies will expect a political leader to set an example in morality, decency, integrity and honesty. And they will, hopefully, point out to him (or her) where he (she) is going off the rails.

Lord, bless our head of state, and keep him honest and worthy.