Give Them Their King!

1 Samuel 8:1-9 And it came about when Samuel was old that he appointed his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judging in Beersheba. His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; 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.” 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. 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. “Like 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. “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.”

Based on face value, the people appear to have a legitimate complaint. Samuel has grown old and is not able to lead Israel as he had before. Because of this, he appoints his sons as judges over Israel and unfortunately, they are not like him. They do not walk in his ways. They are no longer seeking God as they have turned to bribery and perverting justice. Again, there is no doubt that if we are only considering this without knowing everything else regarding the history of Israel, this would be a cause of concern. But…

The solution that the people have does not include God. In 1 Samuel 7:8, Israel goes to Samuel seeking God for help. They said, “Do not cease to cry to the Lord our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” What changed? When they had a problem previously, they sought out God as their solution but now that the sons of Samuel are causing problems, instead of seeking God, they have developed their own solution. This solution is based upon their own wisdom and desires. Why seek the answers of God when we can come up with our own solutions?!

They are telling God that they want their own king. They want to be just like the other nations around them. This request does not shock God. Granted, Samuel is frustrated. Obviously because of their lack of faith. God anticipates this request for a king back in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. God did not want their king to act like the other kings of other nations. He wanted the king of Israel to trust and obey God. If the people would have remained faithful and repented, God would have taken care of all their enemies. Faithfulness, obedience, and repentance would have solved all their problems. That was not good enough for them. They wanted to be just like the other nations around them. Does this seem familiar?

How often have we heard of different churches of Christ begin worshipping just like other denominations? There are local “church of Christ” groups that may have the sign on the building or out by the road, but their practices are far from the scriptural practices that we read about in scriptures. So many have unfortunately opened their doors to women preachers, instrumental music within worship, children’s church, daycare facilities, having coffee shops/restaurants, additional institutions (colleges, etc), and the list goes on. Why do you suppose this is the case? Is it because they are following God? Hardly! It is because they have the same exact attitude as the children of Israel. They lack faith in God, they do not trust God, they will not obey God, and they have provided their own solutions for “converting” souls. It is because they lack conviction just as the children of Israel lacked conviction.

Deuteronomy 26:16-19 This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul. You have today declared the Lord to be your God, and that you would walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His ordinances, and listen to His voice. The Lord has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments; and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honor; and that you shall be a consecrated people to the Lord your God, as He has spoken.

God wanted Israel to be different. He wanted them to stand out from everybody else. Peter tells us the same thing as he affirms this truth by quoting this passage in 1 Peter 2:5-10. We have the same problem as Israel. We do not want to stand out from other denominations. We see these “churches” being overrun with people, almost knocking their doors down. We want to experience the same thing! We want people to come busting through our doors just like everywhere else but please, let me just say this. Not at the expense of the truth. God recognizes false religion, and He rejects it. He desires people to worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24)

Do we want God as our king or do we want a king to be given to us?

2 Timothy 4:1-4 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom; preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away from the truth and will turn aside to myths.  

by Lee Elkins