Hello everyone! I’m sorry for the lack of activity last week; I came down with some sort of stomach bug that pretty well took me out of commission. But I’m back to my old self now, and I come bearing a new devotional!
Today, let’s take a look at a passage in 1 Samuel 8. The scene is this: having survived years of oppression under pharaoh, wandering in the desert, and continuous war from the people around them, Israel begins to be afraid not only of the physical threat of violence, but also of the possibility that their neighboring kingdoms may develop more fully as a result of their government structures. See, up until now Israel had been led by prophets and judges from God, holy men and women (because yes, some of the judges who led Israel were women) who clearly heard the will of the Lord and guided their people accordingly. Now, however, they were tired of doing things God’s way. They wanted the security that the kings gave their neighbors, which leads us to this.
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah;5 and they said to him, “Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.8 Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day—in that they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. 9 Now then, listen to their voice; however, you shall solemnly warn them and tell them of the procedure of the king who will reign over them.”
10 So Samuel spoke all the words of the Lord to the people who had asked of him a king. 11 He said, “This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots. 12 He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants. 15 He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and use them for his work. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. 18 Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but theLord will not answer you in that day.”
19 Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, “No, but there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
– 1 Samuel 8: 4-20
Israel had enjoyed years of protection by the Lord, the very same one who delivered them from their bondage into a land of their own, and yet they rejected Him! They looked out from paradise and safety into the chaotic world, mistaking change for improvement, and demanded that their heavenly king relinquish the throne to a man, even knowing their own fallibility. And what response does God give them?
“Have it your way. You are free to choose folly and slavery again, if you want it. But know that when you have Me, you don’t need a king. You don’t need the systems of your neighbors.”
How applicable this is to our very lives today! We live in a world of consumerism, where stuff is king. In God, we have refuge, we have joy, we have everything we could want or need, yet we demand more, refusing to be satisfied. And God’s message rings just as true today as it did in Israel, that we don’t need anything but God.
What kings do you place in your life? Money? Power? I’ve said this before, but because I find it to be the most compelling aspect of Christianity, I’ll say it again – do you allow fear of Death to be king? Not even that is needed when we have God. See, the kingdom of God is alive within us, within the Church, today, and it will thrive even as we try and appoint shiny new consumer kings in its place. God is immutable, and His kingdom will not be overcome.