The Humble King

Zechariah 9:9-13

In these verses we see a very direct prophecy of the coming king who God would send to his people. This was self-consciously fulfilled by Jesus on Palm Sunday as he literally rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and was hailed by the crowd as the coming king. The passage is introduced with a call to rejoice, and this should be a primary application for us as we think about these truths. The reasons for this rejoicing are unpacked as we see a description of what this coming king would be like and what would be the impact of his coming.

What the Coming King Will Be Like:

In verse 9, three particular qualities are picked out regarding him:

  • Righteous – In contrast to the majority of kings in the history of Israel, the promised one can be described as righteous. This means he is in right relationship with God and rules as one who has himself submitted to God’s authority and is serving the people out of love for them and for God.
  • Having Salvation – The king that God was sending would be a saviour king. At the time many took this to suggest salvation from the rule of foreign occupiers, but there was a much greater salvation required and this is what Jesus provided. Through his death and resurrection we have been saved from sin and reconciled to God.
  • Humble – The king’s humility is particularly pointed out, and riding on a donkey is the illustration given of this (in contrast to other rulers who would flaunt their power and ride chariots or warhorses). Jesus exemplified what it is to be a humble king (see Phil 2:5-8) and he did not come to be served but to serve.

What the Coming King Will Bring:

In verses 10-13, some of the effects of this king’s coming are explored:

  • He Brings Peace – In verse 10, it is the peace that he brings that is highlighted. This peace is both for Israel and for the nations. In him those who were previously hostile are made one and the weapons of war are cut off (see Eph 2:11-16).
  • He Brings Freedom – Verse 11 speaks of the prisoners being set free, and this is exactly what we see Jesus declaring he will do in Luke 4:18. Through the ministry of Jesus we see him bringing freedom to those in all kinds of bondage, and ultimately through the cross (highlighted in this verse by the mention of the blood of the covenant) he sets free those who were in bondage to sin. Verse 12 elaborates on this, pointing out that the restoration will be double.
  • He Brings Mission – Verse 13 speaks of God turning Israel into his bow and arrow and wielding them like a weapon. This cannot refer to physical conquest as he has already spoken in verse 10 of abolishing such weapons. Rather, God is saying that through the coming king the way he brings about victory over the powers of darkness will be through his people being sent out and being his witnesses and agents of transformation.

Possible Applications

  • Rejoice – This whole passage is set in the context of a call to rejoice. The news that Zechariah was proclaiming is even better news for us as we get to live in the light of it, not simply anticipate it. This should be a cause for great joy for us!
  • Humility – If even God’s promised king came in humility, then how much more should we be willing to do so?
  • Freedom and Restoration – Many in the room may be in places of bondage to particular situations or have not yet found salvation through the gospel. This message is a great moment to remind people of the freedom that is to be found in Christ and invite people to come to him for salvation and freedom.