REALITY OF KINGSHIP
Thank you Lord Jesus; I know in your presence who I am, whose I am, and why I am here!
Read 1 SAMUEL 8
Israel Asks for a King
8 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders.[a] 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[b] 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. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”
10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. 22 The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”
Then Samuel said to the Israelites, “Everyone go back to your own town.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.’1
A lifetime has passed. Samuel is old and will soon no longer be able to lead. His sons are showing signs of the same corruption as Eli’s sons.2 One imagines that this must have been a bitter disappointment to Samuel. How was it possible, given that they had such a godly father? Was he away, engaged in ministry too much,3 so his family was somewhat neglected? It’s a reminder to those in public ministry in our churches today to have a healthy balance between family and work.
Interestingly, Israel noticed and people were concerned about the situation. Perhaps by now they realized that they needed leadership that could help rather than hinder their worship? And surely that was down to Samuel’s ministry among them! So were they right to ask for a king? Had Samuel been right to appoint his sons as judges, when all along it had been God himself who called people to leadership?
Apparent spiritual highs often contain mixed motives. Israel’s desire for a king reflected not only their dissatisfaction with Samuel’s sons, but also their desire to be like everyone else (vs 19,20)! It is so hard sometimes to stand out from the crowd and be different! God responded to Samuel’s prayer about it by telling him to listen to the people and go along with their request – but he also pointed out that they were rejecting their real King. Evans helpfully summarizes: ‘On the one hand, kingship could be seen as a rejection of God’s own kingship, an unnecessary intrusion into the relationship between God and his chosen nation. On the other hand, it was a gift from God, a model and a channel through which God’s relationship with Israel could be illustrated and strengthened.’4 So who was right?
How do we respond in ambiguous situations? Pray for leaders you know who are faced with this kind of choice.
Loving One, I need to focus on listening to you. Help me filter out the many other competing voices and clearly hear when you speak to me.
1 Ps 145:1, ESV 2 See 1 Sam 2:12–25 3 Cf 1 Sam 7:16 4 Mary Evans, 1 and 2 Samuel, NIBC, Paternoster Press, 2000, p 41
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