Select Wisdom Brand

The Way of Kings

Numbers 21:21-23a
Then Israel sent messengers to Sihon king of the Amorites, saying, “Let me pass through your land. We will not turn aside into field or vineyard. We will not drink the water of the well. We will go by the King’s Highway until we have passed through your territory.” But Sihon would not allow Israel to pass through his territory.

Such is the way of kings. Had Sihon only been a tad less greedy, he could’ve simply made the highway a toll road and asked Moses to pay a fee. Had he been only a tad less distrusting, he could’ve flanked the highway with garrisons of soldiers to ensure that Israel stuck to the path. Had he been a tad less proud, he could’ve formed a mutually beneficial alliance with Moses, offering safe passage and aid in return for a lifetime supply of milk and honey. Had he paid any attention to the miraculous tales that preceded Moses’ arrival, he could’ve offered these pilgrims fruit from his best vines and water from his purest springs and shade from his thickest olive groves. But that would’ve been the manly thing to do, right? And kings in the ancient world rarely resembled men.

God could’ve sent a militia of His best warriors to besiege Sihon’s territory under the cover of night. He could’ve stolen Sihon’s women and children and cattle and held them for ransom till the people passed through. He could’ve stormed through Sihon’s throne room in a whirlwind and exclaimed, “I, the LORD am bringing my people through your land!” But He isn’t like that. He first reaches out an open hand—an invitation of friendship as it were—offering this pagan king a chance to do the right thing on his own volition.

There’s nothing a Pharaoh or a Sihon or a Lucifer can do to thwart the plans of Almighty God. All the legions of hell are chaff in the winds of His forward advancement to the Promised Land. Yet each foe has a chance to surrender. Each could’ve been a trumpeter in the triumphal procession! Each had a choice to make, a hand to shake, a path to take, and each chose the bitter end for themselves.

Never once in the history of the cosmos has God made an enemy. He only makes friends. We make ourselves enemies through our pride.