The Lord’s Prayer: Thy Kingdom Come…

The Lord’s Prayer: Thy Kingdom Come…

Mar 23, 2017

by Phil Lawton

When I think about kingdoms I get images of knights and kings and wizards. For some, you might think about our neighbor across the pond. Our earthly understanding of kingdom is geopolitical. It must be in a physical location and it must have some form of political power. The United Kingdom can be pinpointed to a specific geographical location. The kingdom of Arthur, though legend, can be characterized by a certain form of politics.

Yet if I asked you to point to the Kingdom of God you could not find it on a map. If I said what are the politics of the Kingdom of Heaven, you might be able to tell me about ideals — but not any treaties that the Kingdom of God has with North Korea. The Kingdom of God does not have a seat at the UN. It does not have a navy nor an air force. No, the Kingdom of Heaven is something very different than all other kingdoms.

Like all the other phrases in this series, we spend very little time actually trying to understand what it means. We simply say it and assume that it means the same thing to me as it does to you. The problem with this is that we have not truly looked at what God, through the Bible, has to say about it. We are not the first group that thought we knew what God wanted in a kingdom.

Give Us a King

In the early years of the nation of Israel there is no king. For 40 years they wander the desert with God as their guide. When they enter the promised land it is under the leadership of Joshua, but he is not their king. When they set up their nation there was no king. Each of the twelve tribes was given land. The book of Judges shows us that the People of God continually did what was right in their own eyes. The people would fall away and God would raise up a judge to free the people from oppression.

Judge after judge take over leading the people. By the time of Samuel this position is more a spiritual than political one. Samuel appoints his sons as judges over Israel, but they are wicked and “pervert justice.” So the people come to Samuel and ask for a king like everyone else has. At first Samuel is against the idea. He feels that the people have rejected him. But God reminds Samuel that it is God, not Samuel, who the people have rejected. God tells Samuel that this has been the pattern of Israel for generations. God then tells Samuel to give the people a warning of what life under a king would look like.

The next several verses in 1 Samuel 8 sound like something we would all understand. The king will take from them. He will take their young men and women and use them for his purposes. He will take a tenth of everything they have and in return they will work for him. In short, he will be a king like all the others. I find verse 18 the most telling:

Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.

Did you catch that? God says, “your king” whom “you have chosen” for “yourselves.” God is telling them that they will make their bed and then have to lie in it. If you know anything about the kings of Israel you know that many of them were not good for the people. It is the wickedness of the kings that leads the people astray. It is this same wickedness that causes God to send Israel into exile. The kings become a burden to Israel, not a boon.

I know what some of you are thinking. “Phil,” you say, “what about all the good kings? What about David and Solomon and the Temple?” There were good things done by the kings of Israel — that is true — but let’s look at the greatest king. Let’s look at the king that is used as the paragon of a good king. Let’s look at David.

The Greatest King

David is chosen by God when he is young. In fact the story of his anointing is a great one. He is the youngest son of eight. You can read the whole story in 1 Samuel 16. David is the king that God chose. The king before him, Saul, was chosen by the people. Saul was the kind of king that God warned about, but David was a good king, right? Sort of.

It is true that David is a worthy king. He does many things that are good for Israel, but he is also human. David is not perfect. Most know of the story of David and Bathsheba. If you don’t you can read it in 2 Samuel 11. I want to point out that David gets himself into this mess because he is not doing what he is supposed to:

Then it happened in the spring, at the time when kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him and all Israel, and they destroyed the sons of Ammon and besieged Rabbah. But David stayed at Jerusalem.

David, unlike all the other kings, stays in Jerusalem. This is a great lesson on the dangers of idleness. I know in my own life I get in the most trouble when I don’t have anything to do. But that is not the point. The point is that David commits adultery, tries to cover it up, and then commits murder. Not really the model of purity and goodness is he?

David — adulterer, murderer, thief, and liar —- this is the best king that Israel ever had. This is the best example of human kingdoms we have. Even the mythical kingdom of Arthur is full of problems. The place of knights in shining armor is also the place where Lancelot had an affair with Guinevere. No kingdom created by man — real or mythical — is truly a place of peace and justice.

The Kingdom of God

So what about the Kingdom of Heaven? Often when people look at this question they go to the Gospels. After all, Jesus talks about the Kingdom of Heaven a lot. But I want to start with the Old Testament. We can start to see what the Kingdom of God looks like in the prophets. Perhaps the best place to see this is in Micah.

Most know Micah 6:8. But what you might find interesting is that this comes after an indictment by God against Israel. This is the center of a chapter about how Israel steals from the poor and does not take care of those most in need. What we can gain from Micah 6:8 is that the Kingdom of God is a place where people do justice, love mercy, and walk with God. In a kingdom like that no one would be in need.

But Micah isn’t the only prophet who speaks of this. We have Amos 5, Ezekiel 22, and Isaiah 10 — just to name a few. Time and again, God disciplines His people for enacting evil laws and not caring for those who have nothing. Yet this is not the only thing in the Old Testament.

If we go to Isaiah 61 we read what God’s kingdom looks like. It is a place where prisoners are set free. It is a place where those who mourn are comforted; where people will be given twice what they need. This is the exact chapter that Jesus reads in the synagogue to inaugurate His ministry. Jesus declares that this is the kingdom that He came to bring. The Beatitudes in Matthew are part of this; in fact the whole Sermon on the Mount is about God’s Kingdom. The Kingdom of Heaven is a place of justice, peace, and mercy.

Prayer with Intent

The whole point of this series is to get us to think about what we pray and why. So often we go through this prayer with little thought. My hope is that this has made you realize that need for the Kingdom of God. When you pray, “Thy Kingdom Come,” I want you to mean it. This should be a cry from your heart. It should be a hope that we cling to. In a world where justice often seems so far off, this phrase should bring peace. Yet to truly live in the Kingdom of God we must submit to the King of that Kingdom. But that is a story for next time.

May you not be satisfied with the kingdoms of this world.

May you come to find the Kingdom of God as an oasis in the desert.

May you earnestly pray. And may God’s kingdom come.


Fourth in a series by Assistant Pastor Phil Lawton at the Seventh Day Baptist Church of Shiloh, NJ. Check out Phil’s blog at

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