In today's readings in 1 Samuel 8, we come to a pivotal and disturbing point in the history of God's chosen people, Israel. After having been called out, chosen and redeemed and in a covenantal relationship with God, the people of Israel decide, 'we want a king.'
Israel did have not a king to this point. They had prophets and judges appointed by God. The nations around them had kings. Kings, as Samuel warned them, would take their sons for chariot drivers, others for labourers on the land, daughters for cooks. Kings would take their land, and a tenth of their remaining production. In short, the people will become slaves to kings (1 Samuel 8:10-17). ` Who wants that? Despite the warning, the people of Israel did.
Samuel, God's chose judge, warned them, but the people wanted a king, for several apparent reasons seen in the text.
1. They wanted a king to judge and lead them in battle, 1 Samuel 8:5,20. This was a slap in the face to Samuel, who judged them. They did not need a king. We will soon see in addition to Samuel, they already had a very good king! They did not need a king to lead them, because they had just defeated the Philistines in battle. (1 Samuel 7:10) Because the Lord had thundered! But still they want a king to judge and lead them for battle?! (1 Samuel 8:20)
2. They wanted a king to judge them because Samuel was old and his sons (who would arguably replace him) did not walk in God's ways, 1 Samuel 8:4. This is deception. They had already seen how God had dealt with Eli's sons who were coming after him but were failing to walk as their father had. They had reason to trust that God would 'protect' them and ensure that Samuel's sons did not become judges, that God would deal with them as he had with Eli's sons. That is conjecture perhaps, but we do know the elders of Israel did not ask or pray for new or better judges to replace Samuel. They just wanted a king.
3. They wanted a king to be like the other nations, 1 Samuel 8:5 and 8:20 (the latter verse reads "that we may be like all the nations." God had called out his people precisely to be different from the other nations. Repeatedly they are told 'do not be like the other nations.' And here, so soon, they say 'we want to be like them. in this regard, to have a king.' How could they?
4. They wanted a king because they were rejecting God, 1 Samuel 8:7. Samuel is no doubt dismayed by the request of the elders, but God tells him "Obey the voice of the people...for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them." God goes on to place all this in the context of everything that has happened since he brought them out of Egypt, forsaking him and serving other gods.
We should not be amazed, because we would have been doing the same thing. We do the same thing now. We reject God's ways, we want to emulate the world, we want what the world has, we ultimately, in our sin, reject God.
The great battle in life is to walk with God and in his ways, or not. It is to want him, or not. We have a king, who reigns, leads, protects and judges.
Derek Butler - I am a Christian, husband, father, son, brother, friend, reader, et al, all inadequately. This blog is a tool to encourage daily bible reading, for myself and others.
Click above to access the 5 Day Reading Plan used here. I am using the 5 readings Monday through Friday, with other postings on topics of interest Saturdays and Sundays.
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