Give Us a King!
Reading about Israel’s rejection of God and demand for a king “that [they] also may be like all the nations” is sobering. In 1 Samuel 8, the people of Israel were discontent with the leadership that God provided for them, and ultimately with God’s leadership over them (1 Samuel 8:4-5), so they asked Samuel to appoint a king to lead them. Scripture tells us that this displeased Samuel, so he took his concerns to the Lord, and the Lord answered him saying,
“Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them out of Egypt, even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
So Samuel warned them about what it would be like to have a king to rule over them, and told them that when they cry out to God over what their king has done to them, He will not answer them. And still they insisted on having a king. Verses 19 & 20 say, “But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, ‘No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles”.
The people of Israel had the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the only one true God as their King, and they were still unsatisfied. They rejected the unique position they had as God’s chosen people because they wanted to be like all the other nations around them. They didn’t want to be set apart or different; they wanted to be just like everybody else.
The same kind of thing still happens today. People who call themselves Christians twist Scripture to make it fit the culture, thereby making culture their king. They desire to claim the name of Christ, but reject His standards, authority, and leadership. There will always be people within the Church who want the Church to look like the world. This will never end well. At times, each of our hearts will long for what the world has to offer, but it will always disappoint.
God, may this passage of scripture serve as a reminder to me and to the Church that your way is best, that you are our King, and that you alone can satisfy the desires of our hearts.