What Kind of King?
Great and Steadfast God, You are faithful in Your promises, constant in Your care, unwavering in Your justice. I bless Your name.
Read 1 Samuel 8:1-22
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Great and marvelous are Your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are Your ways, King of the nations” (Rev. 15:3).
Samuel will continue as a significant prophetic leader, but his sons’ unjust behavior prompts a change in political structure while hinting at problems in hereditary power (compare Eli and, earlier, Gideon; Judg. 8:22,23; 9:1-57). Chapters 8-12 portray both positive and negative aspects of kingship, and how they intertwine. The interactions between God, Samuel, the people and Saul highlight ambiguities. When the elders ask Samuel to appoint a king (4,5), Samuel sees this as personal rejection, but the Lord points out that “they have rejected me as their king” (7). Despite the victory at Mizpah, the elders expect their needs to be met by having a king like “all the other nations” (5,20). Samuel’s warning (11-17) outlines the lifestyle of such a king with his court, which has to be paid for–by the very people who seek the change. It is “take, take, take.” Kings saw as their right a lifestyle more elaborate than their subjects, an attitude that may be seen today in many people of high status (so different from the prescription of Deut. 17:14-20). God had brought the people out of slavery (8), but a king like all the other nations would make them slaves (17). Later, Solomon’s subjects use language of the Egyptian bondage to describe his reign (Exod. 1:14; 6:6). When a king (or any government, business or church leader) fails to serve under God’s kingship the result is often oppressive.
Kingship was God’s direction (2:10,35), but not “like all the other nations.” God takes the initiative through Samuel (21). Still, asking for the right thing for the wrong reason is a form of sin, however subtle. Whether Samuel or the elders–or us–God starts with where we are, with our imperfect, self-centered and blinkered attitudes and motives.
Are you seeking (or resisting) personnel or structural change in your church or organization? Pray, allowing God to “judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
Father, as the hymn says, “Make me a captive Lord, and then I shall be free.” You are my King and I give You my allegiance. I seek first Your Kingdom.