I never have understood the request the Israelites make in this chapter. Samuel has served faithfully as God’s judge for many years, and he is getting old. Unfortunately, just like most of Israel’s leaders he has done a poor job as a father. His sons practice evil and promote injustice. The people could have gone directly to God and prayed for deliverance from the unrighteous judges, but they have a better idea. The result is that they will request that God give them a king. Then they can be just like every other nation that surrounds them.
They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” 6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. (1 Samuel 8:5-7 NIV)
The people have lost confidence in God’s ability to protect them. So, they ask God to appoint them a ruler and protector. Samuel makes it clear that this decision will have many unpleasant consequences. He understates his predictions as the nation heads toward many years of war and destruction. As a result, one bad king after another leads them away from God. It will take many generations for this impact to become obvious. Based on the short term results, many of this crowd making the request thought they made the right choice.
What about us?
Prioritizing the culture wars over worship and God’s kingdom leads us to make similar choices. Satan continually challenges us by surrounding us with ideas and laws incompatible with our faith. We can see persecution on the horizon and wonder what we can do to turn it away. Many Christians decided to choose someone for President who would fight for them. We got what we asked for and elected a superb fighter. For some, this took them even further away from recognizing God as our King and the master of our circumstances.
I am not a prophet and have no idea what God has planned for His people in this country. The early Christians persevered and endured persecution. Like them, I believe we will be more confident in facing whatever the future holds if we continually declare, “Jesus is Lord.” Kings and presidents make a difference and we should pray for them. However, we must always remember that our King will not be impacted by the next election cycle.
This song from our Sunday morning service struck me as a perfect way to end this blog. The song expresses a prayerful response to the trouble around us.