In the hit musical Hamilton, England’s King George III is humorously portrayed as a cartoonish, deranged villain. However, a new biography on King George said he was not the tyrant described in Hamilton or America’s Declaration of Independence. If George had been the brutal despot that Americans said he was, he would have stopped their drive for independence with extreme, scorched-earth measures. But he was restrained by his “civilized, good-natured” temperament.
Who knows if King George died with regret? Would his reign have been more successful if he’d been harsher with his subjects?
Not necessarily. In the Bible we read of King Jehoram, who solidified his throne by putting “all his brothers to the sword along with some of the officials of Israel” (2 Chronicles 21:4). Jehoram “did evil in the eyes of the Lord” (v. 6). His ruthless reign alienated his people, who neither wept for his gruesome death nor made a “funeral fire in his honor” (v. 19).
Historians may debate whether George was too soft; Jehoram was surely too harsh. A better way is that of King Jesus, who is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). Jesus’ expectations are firm (He demands truth), yet He embraces those who fail (He extends grace). Jesus calls us who believe in Him to follow His lead. Then, through the leading of His Holy Spirit, He empowers us to do so.