Last modified on March 2, 2024, at 14:00

Divine right of kings

Solomon and the Plan for the Temple, as in 1 Kings 6, illustration from a Bible card published by the Providence Lithograph Company

The divine right of kings was a belief that the king received his power and right to rule from God.

Some proponents of this doctrine have claimed that it was scripturally supported, and pointed to two key texts.[1] The first of these was Proverbs 8:15-16:

By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.

The second of these key texts was Romans 13:1-2:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

This, however, neglects the very first of the Ten Commandments, which is that "Thou shalt have no other gods beside me." While it is true that not all Monarchs and Emperors who claimed the Divine right for themselves sought to replace God with themselves as God, Luke 4:8 states that "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only."

Matthew 6:24 contains probably the strongest message against Monarchism or the Divine right: "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon."

While Mammon is commonly referred to in newer Bibles as simply money, it has a larger meaning than that. It means pretty much anything worldly, especially anything worldly which could or would have a claim over you. Such as a king, for example. When the Christian knights of the Christian king Henry II murdered the Christian Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket they were acting more as the King's Men rather than as Christians who had pledged their swords as knights loyal to Christ.[2]

The Chinese have a similar version of the concept, called the "Mandate of Heaven". Losing the mandate means one lost his right to rule. The Chinese spread this concept to other cultures, such as the Manchu. The Qing, a Manchu dynasty, considered themselves justified in conquering large swaths of central and east Asia due to the mandate. The CCP conquers in a similar way, conquering many of the same territories as the Qing, but as communists, they do not feel the need to have a divine right in order to rule, but rather take the position that their very existence justifies the conquests.


  1. History of divine right of kings
  2. Thomas Becket (1118–1170) was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1162 to 1170 who defended the Church against demands by King Henry II.