The People of Israel
1-2Samuel had two sons. The older one was Joel, and the younger one was Abijah. When Samuel was getting old, he let them be leaders at Beersheba. 3But they were not like their father. They were dishonest and accepted bribes to give unfair decisions.
4One day the nation's leaders came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said, “You are an old man. You set a good example for your sons, but they haven't followed it. Now we want a king to be our leader, just like all the other nations. Choose one for us!”
6Samuel was upset to hear the leaders say they wanted a king, so he prayed about it. 7The Lord answered:
Samuel, do everything they want you to do. I am really the one they have rejected as their king. 8Ever since the day I rescued my people from Egypt, they have turned from me to worship idols. Now they are turning away from you. 9Do everything they ask, but warn them and tell them how a king will treat them.
10Samuel told the people who were asking for a king what the Lord had said:
11If you have a king, this is how he will treat you. He will force your sons to join his army. Some of them will ride in his chariots, some will serve in the cavalry, and others will run ahead of his own chariot. 12Some of them will be officers in charge of 1,000 soldiers, and others will be in charge of 50. Still others will have to farm the king's land and harvest his crops, or make weapons and parts for his chariots. 13Your daughters will have to make perfume or do his cooking and baking.
14The king will take your best fields, as well as your vineyards, and olive orchards and give them to his own officials. 15He will also take a tenth of your grain and grapes and give it to his officers and officials.
16The king will take your slaves and your best young men and your donkeys and make them do his work. 17He will also take a tenth of your sheep and goats. You will become the king's slaves, 18and you will finally cry out for the Lord to save you from the king you wanted. But the Lord won't answer your prayers.
19-20The people would not listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want to be like other nations. We want a king to rule us and lead us in battle.”
21Samuel listened to them and then told the Lord exactly what they had said. 22“Do what they want,” the Lord answered. “Give them a king.”
Samuel told the people to go back to their homes.
Judges had been God’s representatives to the Israelites for about 350 years. Samuel, the current judge took it personally when the nation’s leaders told him they now wanted a king, like the other nations. The Lord knew that the leaders weren’t rejecting Samuel as judge, they were rejecting God as their King.
There were going to be consequences to having a king, but they didn’t want to listen to Samuel as he laid it out for them. The Israelites wanted what they wanted and they weren’t going to hear anyone talk against it – even God.
I imagine they thought it was a good plan. If having a king wasn’t a good idea, why did everyone else have one? Why did they have to be different? It seems to me like they thought they knew better than almighty God.
Before we’re too hard on them, let’s think a minute. Do we ever do that? You know, you’re about to do something that might be a little on the line, and you get a little niggling feeling that you shouldn’t do it. You really want to do it, or maybe it’s something you really want to have. It can’t be that bad can it? But, you know, in your gut, that you shouldn’t. Often, that niggling, that feeling, is God. How many times have I, have you, ignored it because we wanted our own way regardless of the consequences?
God let them have a king, even though it wasn’t best for them. Sometimes God lets us have what we want, even though it’s not best for us. Hmm, I wonder what we would get if we obeyed that niggling and got God’s best.
Dear Heavenly Father, You always know what’s best for me. Help me to trust in you, to go your way and not mine, even when I don’t understand. In Jesus’ name. Amen.