*It's a rainy Monday morning here in Madison, West Virginia. I hope, however, in spite of the weather you are having a great day. I also hope that you are still enjoying these daily glimpses into the scripture. Today, we will look at the rise of the Israel monarchy. Yes, the people want a king. Let's see what happens.
"When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, 'You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.' But when they said, 'Give us a king to lead us,' this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord." (I Samuel 8:1,3-6)
Poor Samuel! There's nothing like being told that "you're old." In spite of everything Samuel seemingly has earned respect from the people. They have taken notice of Samuel's faithfulness and have observed that his sons are nothing like him. It appears that the people have bided their time in asking for a king. Perhaps they have been considering this for a while. They know that Samuel is old and his time is short. Samuel appoints his sons as judges, but the people clearly do not want them. And who could blame them? These sons would have most certainly led Israel down the wrong path. They decided that the time to act is now. "We want a king!" they demanded.
Keep in mind, Yahweh has been the king with Israel being His nation. God has led them, provided for them, and fought for them ever since bringing them out of Egypt. When Samuel prays to God about this situation God tells Samuel that this request is not a rejection of him (Samuel), but a rejection of God.(verse 7) Why do they want a king? One, they do not want Samuel's sons to take over leadership. Two, so that they might be like other nations. Wow! Things really haven't changed at all! Years ago there was a television commercial encouraging us to "Be Like Mike." (Michael Jordon) I think this was a shoe commercial. I guess the idea was that if I bought his shoes I could play basketball like him. (First I'd have to grow another foot and lose a few pounds) Even today I'm still told by the advertisers that I should drink this drink, take this pill, apply this cream, spray this cologne, etc., because it's what everyone else is doing. *There is one certain spray that commercials say that if you spray it the girls will be lined up after you. While my wife forbids me to use it I did buy some (For my sons! Oh please Lord may the commercials by correct!) Well, our ten year old got ahold of it and sprayed it. We had to open every window in the house and we had to leave because we couldn't catch our breath.) Anyhow, they wanted to be like everyone else. Just like today...Mr. Jones has a new Cadillac, I want a new Cadillac. Jones has a new Rolex (I realize that these are outdated brands, but I don't keep up with the latest gadgets) I want a new Rolex. Jones has a new mortgage I want one too. Jones had a three way bypass, I should have one to. They want a king like everyone else. Again, they are saying "Thank You God for all that you have done for us, now we've got this." They're just like children. For a while Mom and Dad are the greatest, but then, "Is that your Mom and Dad?" they are asked, "No, no...never seen them before in my life. Nope."
Now, one would expect God to be livid with these people. Instead, God tells Samuel to "Listen to all that the people are saying...But warn them..." (I Samuel 8:7,9) God is basically telling Samuel to "go along with the people." However, Samuel is to warn them about the dangers associated with having a king. It's kind of like me trying to explain to Zander (my ten year old) why he should rethink some of the things he wants. Right now we are trying to explain to him why he doesn't need a hamster, guinea pig, bearded dragon, weasel, etc...I'll say, 'Son, you will have to clean the cage, feed it, clean it, chase after it....But, 'Dad, I want one!' Samuel says to the people: "If you get a king here's what you can expect." What did he warn them about? A king would tax the people heavily. A king would draft their sons and daughters. A king would take the best of everything, including their children. A king will ultimately enslave the people. Samuel warns them: "When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord will not answer you in that day." (I Samuel 8:18) Remember, in the past, every time the people cried out, God responded. Now, Samuel warns them that when they are under the king God will say, (as my Dad sometimes said) "Don't come crying to me!"
"But the people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles." (I Samuel 8:19-20)
Yes, this is a flat out rejection of Yahweh. What had Yahweh done for them in the past? Yes, gone before them and fought their battles. This makes me wonder, "how long does gratitude last?" We can pass judgment against these people for their response to God, it is easy for us. yet so many times I have heard folks make statements of faith, only to eventually turn from God. This is so evident when it comes to revivals. Folks come out to the yearly meeting, stand and testify (usually same testimony each year) proclaiming a love for God and everybody, yet once revival is over they retreat back to their hideaway. Then, just before revival time folks can be heard declaring: "We need a revival!" Well, no, not really. What we really need is for folks to be consistently walking with the Lord on a daily basis. Notice, we have discovered a pattern with the children of Israel: They tag along, complain, etc., then something happens and they cry out. This time they are warned, "You're Tears Won't Get You Anywhere!"
One would think that these folks would adhere to the warning, but they don't. They want their king. Samuel tells the Lord what the people said. "The Lord answered, 'Listen to them and give them a king.'" (I Samuel 8:22) Oh those moments when we get what we want! The world becomes such a better place when we get what we want. Oh, we'll never want for anything else when we get what we want. Oh, the sarcasm. The people have been given their wish. *Well, they will. The question is: Will God now tap out? Will God leave the whole picture? Um...No! Thankfully. God will remain as the director of the story. The characters are about to get very interesting and the drama will at times be intense. Tomorrow, we will meet the first king of Israel, and it is not David. Join me tomorrow. -Pastor Rick