When the children of Israel demanded a King, God warned them that a king would exploit them. In demanding a king, the people rejected God (I Samuel 8: 10-17). Judges were charismatic individuals chosen to deal with crises confronting the 12 tribes. The fear was that they this did not provide stable leadership. God then allowed Saul to become king. Saul ruled from about 1020 to 1000, then lost God’s blessing. He disobeyed God’s instruction to destroy the Amalekites, so God withdrew the spirit from him (I Samuel 18: 10).
God took the notion of kingship and placed high expectations on those who ruled. Other nations saw kings as Gods. Biblical kings were to serve God and God’s people, shepherding the people (Ezekiel 34: 1). The command to rule justly runs through the Bible, as does the command not to exploit the people or to worship false Gods. God and the Biblical kings are both described as Shepherds. David, who succeeded Saul, enjoyed an eternal covenant with God, 2 Samuel 7: 16. God promised to regard David’s son as if he were God’s own son. David and Solomon, his son, ruled justly.
David was not allowed to build the Temple due to his act of adultery (2 Samuel II: 4). Solomon, who asked only for wisdom to rule well, not for personal gain, built the temple. His sons, Jeroboam and Rehoboam rebelled, splitting the kingdom. Jeroboam ruled Israel (North), Rehoboam Judea (South). Their descendants were judged good or bad depending on whether they imitated David and ruled justly or worshipped false Gods, exploited the people and shed innocent blood. Too many failed to uphold justice. In 722, Hoshea lost Israel to the Assyrians. In 597, Zedekiah lost Judea and Jerusalem to Babylon.