No discussion of government from a Christian perspective can ever be complete, without a proper consideration of the eighth chapter of 1st Samuel. There are a number of reasons for this.
Firstly, Israel was a nation in deep spiritual decline, and this had been an on-going issue since the nation had only partially completed the conquest of the promised land. The decay was evident as early as Judges 2, centuries earlier. It is evidenced graphically in the corruption of the priesthood, in I Samuel 2-4. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli were priests to the Lord (1:3), but they “…were worthless men; they did not know the Lord” (2:12), they corrupted the people’s sacrifices (2:12-17), and they were sleeping with the women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting (3:22). In their apostasy, they took no notice of their father, such that “…the Lord desired to put them to death” (3:25).
Corruption in a nation always begins in the church, so its ultimate cleansing will have to begin in the church too, because “…it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God…” (I Pet.4:17). The cleansing of the Temple in Jesus’ day was a priority for Him, as it was the key to the reformation of Israel. Naturally He was opposed.
Rushdoony’s comments here are helpful:
The cleansing of the Temple was predicted in Malachi 3:1. The Temple was the house of God, His appointed dwelling place. God speaks throughout the Old Testament of the tabernacle and the Temple as “My house.” Our Lord in Matthew 16:18 speaks of “My church.” As against this, in Matthew 23:38, our Lord refers to the Temple as “your house.” When the sanctuary or church becomes man’s, it is doomed, because God will move against it. At the beginning and at the end of his ministry, our Lord cleansed the Temple (Matt.21:12-13). He cleansed it because it was properly His house, required to serve Him and not itself. The Temple’s rejection of an inner cleansing slated it for judgment.
National corruption has spiritual roots, and there are no quick-fixes for this. Thinking that political changes will somehow make up for a nation’s deep deficiencies, really is futile; like putting lipstick on a pig.
Secondly, Chapter 8 shows us that the elders of Israel asked Samuel for “…a king for us to judge us like all the nations” (v.5). The elders had already decided what Israel needed when they came to him. This wasn’t merely an entirely new political consideration for Israel; it was a statement of her rebelliousness. Israel’s spiritual corruption could not be confined to the priesthood and the temple, for it had seeped through to politics too, and God’s commentary revealed this. He said to Samuel,
Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them (v.7).
God had determined that now, Israel needed to face the outcomes of their apostasy. He’d give them what they wanted: a king, like all the other nations. And for forty years they would taste and see exactly what this would be like; what it would lead to.
In rejecting their true and divine king, God Himself, Israel was acting in denial of His covenant with them, and God was taking this seriously. They were in violation of the First Commandment: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Ex.20:3). So He said to Samuel,
Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day- in that they have forsaken Me and served other gods-so they are doing to you also (v.8).
All of this is directly relevant to us today. Why?
The church has been in decline for generations. It went into a kind of free-fall with Darwin, when 99% of the church decided that rather than challenging a ridiculous, unscientific and unproven fad, discretion was the better part of valour. With the publication of “The Origin of the Species,” we hastened off the field of ideological conflict and confrontation, and haven’t returned, leaving it to the godless to push their agenda.
Well, you could trust them to do that. Within two generations we had the nations of Europe tearing at one another in total war, followed by the rise of socialism, Communism and Nazism. Europe, where the Reformation had begun, has never been the same.
A brave, faithful and uncompromising church?
No, a weak and compliant one, which then and now wants power and privilege all right, without the fundamentals of Biblical law and ethics. Moses, Elijah and John the Baptist would struggle to find friends amongst most modern leaders of the church.
There really is hope for the church. But it is not to be found in man, but can only be found in faithfulness to her Lord and Saviour who died for the church, and to whom we shall all give an account.
Jeremiah commented in his era that “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, saying ‘Peace, peace,’ but there is no peace” (Jer.6:14), and so there are plenty today whose supposed solution to our governmental and national problems never involves the faithfulness or integrity of God’s people, or their obedience to His law.
National, long-term health will require nothing less than our return to God’s law, beginning in the church. Is that what you’re ready for?
 Rousas Rushdoony, “The Gospel of John,” 2000, p.23.