"God is Like a King" by M. K. MacDougall


by M. K. MacDougall

God is like a  king.

While popes are addressed as "Your Holiness" and princes as "Your Highness," kings are usually called "Your Majesty."  What does this mean?  And how is God, the highest king, majestic?

Majesty deftly combines two aspects of kingship under one word: power and goodness.  Kings have the power to carry out all their will, yet they also possess a certain goodness, which is both moral and aesthetic, and which makes them more than just tyrants.  C. S. Lewis gives a magnificent description of the combination of these two elements, when he recounted the descent of Jupiter in That Hideous Strength:  

Before the other angels a man might sink: before this he might die, but if he lived at all, he would laugh. If you had caught one breath of the air that came from him, you would have felt yourself taller than before.  Though you were a cripple, your walk would have become stately: though a beggar, you would worn your robes magnanimously.  Kingship and power and festal pomp and courtesy shot from him as sparks fly from an anvil.  The pealing of bells, the blowing of trumpets, the spreading out of banners, are all means used on earth to make a faint symbol of his quality.  It was like a long sunlit wave, creamy-crested and arched with emerald, that comes on nine feet tall, with roaring and terror and unquenchable laughter.  It was like the first beginning of music in the halls of some King so high and at some festival so solemn that a tremor akin to fear runs through young hearts when they hear it.¹  
Or perhaps more simply in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: “‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver; ‘Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ’Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.’”
² The power of kings inspires awe, as it should; a king can do anything and ask anything, and that means that one is not at all safe in his presence.  But the goodness of kings inspires love and delight, for it means that all a king does do and does ask is righteous and beautiful; one cannot help laughing for joy.

 Since God is the greatest king, indeed, the fulfillment of kingship, He also possesses this majesty, this power and goodness.  Sang Moses, after the parting of the Red Sea, “In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries; / you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble… / Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? / Who is like you, majestic in holiness, / awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:7, 11)  David declared God’s power, that it is in His kingly hands to bestow riches and honor, greatness and strength (1 Chronicles 29:11-12); Elihu proclaimed His majestic justice and righteousness (Job 37:22-23).  The psalmist also says, “In your majesty ride out victoriously / for the cause of truth and meekness and righteousness.” (45:4a)

Moreover, Christ “is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” (Hebrews 1:3a)  Thus, this kingliness, this majesty, is His also.  At the end of time, He will return to rule the world in righteousness and strength.  The Father will put all things in subjection under Him.  He, the King of Kings, will destroy His enemies and wed His bride (Revelation 19).  

He is the one John saw in his apocalyptic vision: "
Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:12-18)

¹C. S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength, “The Descent of the Gods”
²C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, “What Happened after Dinner”

M. K. MacDougall
193 Hilltop Lane

Annapolis, MD 21403