Can you explain, “God save the king?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

“God save the king” is featured five times in four verses:

  • 1 Samuel 10:24: “And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that there is none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king.” This, of course, regards King Saul.
  • 2 Samuel 16:16: “And it came to pass, when Hushai the Archite, David’s friend, was come unto Absalom, that Hushai said unto Absalom, God save the king, God save the king.” Technically, Absalom was not king but simply a son of David who temporarily usurped his father’s throne while King David was still living. Although Absalom had plenty of support in Israel, he was murdered soon after.
  • 2 Kings 11:12: “And he brought forth the king’s son, and put the crown upon him, and gave him the testimony; and they made him king, and anointed him; and they clapped their hands, and said, God save the king.” King Joash (also called Jehoash) was only seven years old when he began to reign from David’s throne.
  • 2 Chronicles 23:11: “Then they brought out the king’s son, and put upon him the crown, and gave him the testimony, and made him king. And Jehoiada and his sons anointed him, and said, God save the king.” This is about young King Joash or Jehoash too.

Contrary to what you might believe upon first glance, “God save the king” is not a plea for rescue from an immediate threat. Rather, it is the bestowment of well wishes or a blessing for a monarch as his administration begins. It is an expression of a sincere desire that the LORD protect or deliver the new king from future spiritual errors, serious illnesses, military defeats, assassination attempts, and the like. Understandably, the speakers wish he would be saved from any and all dangers. How absurd it would be for the people of a nation to wish their leader would fail, just as silly as the airplane passenger praying his or her pilot would die!

Also see:
» What does “All hail” mean in Matthew 28:9?
» Should we say “God bless you” after someone sneezes?
» Is “Divine right of kings” a Scriptural concept?