In 1 Samuel 8 we read about the Israelites demanding Samuel for a king. Samuel served the Lord for quite a few years and was getting old. He appoints his sons as judges for Israel.
Samuel was a godly man, but judges were appointed not by men but by God and the role of being a judge for the nation of Israel did not pass on between generation to generation of the family. In verse 3 of the chapter we read that Samuel’s sons did not follow the ways of God, and yet Samuel appointed them as Judges.
Samuel excused sin in his sons, maybe he did the same while they were growing up. And if he did so, that could be one of the reasons contributing towards why they did not commit to walking obediently in God’s way. I pray that for us parents out there, we do not hold a different measuring stick to our children. That we can objectively see and correct them when they tend to derail from the path that God wants them on. Tough love can be hard, but so very necessary. “Do not withhold discipline from a child.” (Proverbs: 23:13a).
Samuel was so close to God and consulted with God and obeyed Him in every regard as role of Judge over Israel. But did he submit to God and heed His guidance and wisdom when it came to his role as Father to his sons?
Let God lead, guide and influence every role we assume here in our life, let not one area of our lives be driven more by us and our wants instead of by God.
The elders gathered together and state their reason that Samuel is getting old and his sons are not walking in God’s path and hence the ask for a king. They continue with the want for a king to lead them, such as all the other nations have.
In verse 6 we read that when they said “Give us a king to lead us” that displeased Samuel. We see a very godly response from Samuel here. He did not argue in irritation or try to refute when they mention his sons being ungodly. He was displeased for the right reasons and that was that the people were asking for someone other than God to lead them. Samuel responds by turning to God in prayer and seeking His counsel.
May we always remember to not let our emotions do the talking but seek His counsel first in prayer.
God responds to Samuel by telling him to listen to the people. God knows their hearts and the motive behind the ask. In verse 7, God reaffirms to Samuel that it was God himself the people were rejecting as their King. God goes on to mention the people’s disobedience by worshipping other gods and their turning away over the years after all that the Lord did.
Israel were to have a king, a king appointed by God and in His timing, we read that mentioned earlier in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. But this demand by the Israelites did not seem to be in accordance with God’s timing. God allows them to have their way so that they learn a lesson. It was a time for disciplining their stubborn and disobedient hearts. But even in His disciplining we see a merciful God. A God who gives instructions to Samuel to warn the people of what their asking is going to entail for them.
He will Take
In verses 10-18 Samuel details out the words God gives him elaborating on how the king is going to treat them all. In those nine verses, there are five mentions detailing all that ‘He (king) will take and all that the people will do to serve the king for his benefit and in the end, they would cry out for relief to God. A stark contrast to the Lord as king who gives and came to serve (Mathew 20:28), whereas this king who only takes and came to be served.
But so caught up were they in wanting to be like other nations that the words of warning fell on deaf ears. In verse 18, we read that they refused to listen to Samuel and say “We want a king over us. Then we will be like other nations with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
Looking at that verse, we might wonder how the people of Israel can be so blind to what is best for them. But can we not be the very same sometimes.
Here are a people who have God as their king, it is the best position to be in. God wanted them to be a kingdom of priests and a Holy nation (Exodus 19:6), but they have over time turned away from God and are worshipping other gods.
For us: Just like the Israelites who knew God and all that He did for them and yet sin by not keeping Him before everything else, how often do we let ourselves slide in our worship of HIM. Worship is not just a Sunday thing, a church thing or a few minutes a day thing. It is a lifestyle and lifetime thing. Is our worship of God a part of us? Is our everyday life, the highlights and the mundane acknowledging Him and making it known that we function not by our own might or intellect but by the love, grace, mercy and wisdom of God.
The Israelites were meant to be God’s chosen people but they wanted to be like everyone else. Are we so focused on earthly glory and acceptability that we strive to conform to the world and forget that being His and to stand out from the crowd as God’s people is a privilege.
In the previous chapter (1 Samuel 7) we read how the Israelites pleaded with Samuel to cry out to the Lord for them to be delivered from the attack of the Philistines. They were victorious over the Philistines and although between chapter 7 and chapter 8 about 20 years have passed, they seem to have forgotten that the Lord indeed fights for them. With the passing of time do we forget the ways the Lord has provided and protected us?
God is for His people, but He wants them to be obedient in their ways to Him.
Did the Israelites want a King that fit into their image of what a king should be and to fulfill his role as king without any accountability from their side?
Trusting in something tangible sometimes seems a lot easier doesn’t it. And wanting to live a life without accountability can seem alluring but just like the Israelites brought on themselves more grief and pain by resisting and being disobedient to God, we must remember that a life lived within His boundaries and His rules are meant for us to flourish and become who He has made us to be. May we never desire for anyone or anything else but God to be the one and only true King of our lives.