Pulpit Reflections: Give us a King
We find this request in 1 Samuel 8 from the people of Israel to Samuel the prophet. Even though this is a story from the Old Testament it has application for our lives today.
In this chapter, we see that Israel is having a leadership crisis. Instead of seeking the Lord through the prophet, the people come up with their own plan. Their plan is they want to be “like all the nations” and have a King. The Lord equated their request, based upon sinful motives, to be a rejection of God Himself.
These two things usually go hand in hand. That is, a rejection of God and becoming like the world around us. Our God is holy and calls us to be holy.
We are called to be set apart, and yes—different. But like Israel, we often want to be like the world around us. We see this when: Christians adopt the world’s outlook and priorities; when we employ the world’s methods in ministry; when we exchange pure worship for entertainment; when our ministries look more like carnivals than places of prayer.
The Lord told Samuel (who was offended) that they were not rejecting him but God Himself. There is a nugget here that should be encouraging to many believers.
To the parents who have raised their children in the fear of the Lord and these same children as adults walk away from the faith – it is not you they have rejected, but the Lord.
To the church leaders who have been faithful in ministry only to find few interested in knowing the Lord – it is not you they have rejected, but the Lord.
Samuel obeys the Lord and warns the people that having a king will come with consequences they won’t want to pay. Samuel lays wisdom at their door but they won’t have it, so God gives them their desire. It isn’t always a blessing when God gives us what we want when we will not end our prayers with “your will be done”.
We see this today with people who want a government to give them everything. As Samuel warned Israel, there will be cost to this that you will not want to pay – ‘you shall be slaves’. A Government that provides for everything you want will be one that takes much of what is yours and must be obeyed in areas of your lives you won’t like. Be ready to sign your freedom away to have this request.
Ultimately, God allowed this as an accommodation to their sin. It was God’s plan all along to bring about a monarchy (Genesis 17:6; Deuteronomy 17:14-15).
The ultimate fulfillment is in Jesus Christ who is the King of Kings. He doesn’t come to take but to give. He came to give himself as a ransom for sinners – he comes to give eternal life to all who bend the knee. True freedom is living as you were created to live – enjoying and glorifying the Lord.