I think back to Leah. Leah, she of the “weak eyes”, didn’t necessarily want to be married to Jacob. Her manipulative father, Laban, tricked Jacob into marrying Leah before he got to his true love, Rachel. She became embroiled in a lifelong rivalry with Rachel over Jacob’s affection and how many sons each could bear. Yes, God turned it around; Jacob had 12 sons which become the 12 tribes of Israel, but at what price? The brothers were divided by jealousy most of their lives, each wishing to be their father’s favorite.
I just read in I Samuel about Saul’s life as king, his interaction and later hunting of David, then Saul’s subsequent death. Did Saul ever feel like a pawn? I mean, he didn’t want to be king. The Scripture says he was very handsome and taller than any other man. He was Mr. Israel. When Samuel chose him, he was just a shy young man, married, with a little boy. He had no special aspirations for his life. In fact, when Samuel gathered all of Israel to him at Mizpah to announce Saul’s kingship (I Sam. 10), Saul hid among the equipment. He was scared! He did grow in maturity and strength under Samuel’s guidance, but it didn’t last. Later, with the kingdom ripped from his grasp due to disobedience and presumption, did he look back with regret over his life and wish he’d refused Samuel’s anointing? Is this another example of someone being promoted beyond their abilities?
It was the people, disgruntled about being ruled intermittently by eccentric judges, who wanted a king. They said to Samuel, “Look, your sons are corrupt. They take bribes and do all kinds of other awful things. Make us a king to judge us so we can be like all the other nations.” Talk about peer pressure. Samuel prayed about it and the Lord agreed with the people: “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer.” (I Sam 8:7). Ouch!
Does rejection breed pawns?
So it begs the question – Did the Lord feel like a pawn in regard to His people? He wanted to rule over them as their king, with no man (or woman) as a figurehead. The stiff-necked people had other ideas. They didn’t want to be left out in the cold. “We look stupid! We need a man with a crown sitting on a throne so we can be cool!” At this point, they sound like teenagers wanting the latest “style”. Not quite mature, but no longer little children, either.
I think rejection does breed pawns. You remember pawns from the challenging game called chess (the sport my husband lettered in)? They’re those lowly pieces only able to move two spaces to start, and one space forward ever after that. Their life is confining and seemingly trivial. They have so little momentum; they have so few choices. And yet, if pawns make it to the other side of the chessboard, they redeem another captured piece – a rook, bishop, even a queen.
In the light of this idea, Esther was a pawn. Deborah was a pawn. No other righteous man could be found at the time of her promotion. Abigail, who saved her husband Nabal’s life by sending food to David and his men, was a pawn. Even Jesus looks like a pawn of His Heavenly Father.
Here’s where it breaks down. We all have free will; and we’ve all sinned, thus rejecting God. Choosing not to do what God has for you is still a choice. Trusting God with your life path is also a choice. No pawn in a chess game has such a luxury. The hand moves the piece where it wills. And Jesus? He knew who he was the whole time. He never grumbled or rebelled against his destiny. He healed the sick, raised the dead and made the blind see. In the end, he died on the cross for us. He made it to the other side of the board of life. He rose again.
That makes him the Redeemer Pawn.