Why would a king ride a lowly donkey when they have those marvelous steeds prancing with beautiful jeweled saddles and gleaming harnesses? A horse can certainly gallop much faster than a donkey can trot along. According to the Bible as he was dying King David said to put his son, Solomon on his donkey and ride him out for all to see and acknowledge that he would be David’s successor. I Kings 1:32 – 34 Then King David ordered, “Call Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.” When they came into the king’s presence, the king said to them, “Take Solomon and my officials down to Gihon Spring. Solomon is to ride on my own donkey. There Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet are to anoint him king over Israel. Blow the ram’s horn and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!‘ I believe that it’s because those charging steeds were known to be war horses. When kingdoms went to war the leaders are always seen riding horses. Horses were used extensively during warfare. The Calvary were mounted soldiers on horseback. Horses pulling chariots would charge fast towards the battle front. They could carry a knighted rider with full armor into a battle. A war horse can leap over obstacles, plunge into skirmishes or carry it’s rider to safety. Horses have powerful hindquarters, able to easily coil and spring to a stop, spin, turn or sprint forward.
On the other hand donkeys are peacetime animals. They don’t move very fast so donkeys are more of a parade animal. Donkeys walk or trot along. If you are riding on a donkey, it won’t be hard for everyone to see who’s sitting on the donkey’s back.
I believe that is why when Jesus rode into Jerusalem he did so on the back of a donkey. All four gospels bear witness of the account. Matthew 21:1 – 17, Mark 11:1 – 11, Luke 19:29 – 40 and John 12:12 – 19. Traditionally, entering the city on a donkey symbolizes arrival in peace, rather than as a war-waging king arriving on a horse. Jesus wasn’t a man of war sitting upon a war horse. He was on the donkey because He was the King of kings. Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. This was appropriate for a Hebrew king coming in peace. A Hebrew king coming for battle would have ridden a horse. In the Roman culture, a king would only have come riding a horse. Since Jesus rode on a donkey, he presented himself as the King of the Jews, yet posed no threat to the Romans.
Who would have thought there would be so much symbolism on what a horse or donkey represent?