I have a quick question for you: Have you ever wanted something in your life which turned out to be really awful?
Yes, me too! We’ve all heard the saying; “Be careful what you wish for.” haven’t we?
Well, today’s Bible study tells how Israel asks Samuel for a king. And, little did they know what lay in store for them.
The lesson comes from 1 Samuel, chapter 8 and I believe we can all relate to the pit Israel was about to dig for itself.
Israel Wants a King – God’s Warning
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 all 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.”
Warning concerning a King
So Samuel spoke all the words of the Lord to the people who had asked of him a king.
He said, “This will be the procedure of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and place them for himself in his chariots and among his horsemen and they will run before his chariots.
He will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and of fifties, and some to do his plowing and to reap his harvest and to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.
He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers.
He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants.
He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants.
He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and use them for his work.
He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants.
Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to 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, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
Now after Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the Lord’s hearing.
The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice and appoint them a king.”
So Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.” – 1 Samuel 8 NASB
Samuel’s Two Sons
Much as we saw in 1 Samuel 2, Samuel’s two sons, Joel and Abijah followed the path of bribery, power and corruption.
We now know that Eli turned his head when his sons went against his wishes. But, he and his family paid heavily for their mistakes.
Was Samuel a bad parent? We don’t know.
But, we do know that we can no longer control our grown children if they turn away from God. We can only give them a foundation when they are young.
Why a King for Israel?
As I read through some research about this ordeal, I thought of a couple of questions…
- Why did Israel want a king?
- Didn’t they already have one – God?
Okay, in defense of Israel, Samuel’s two sons were definitely unfit to lead the nation.
And, the twelve tribes of Israel seemed to continuously encounter problems because each tribe had its own leader.
They hoped a king could unite them and make the one nation stronger.
“Like Everybody Else”
Israel looked around them and saw other countries lead by kings. On the surface, this looked appealing to them.
But, they hadn’t thought through the long-term effect of having one ruler. And, especially when that one ruler was not God.
In other words, a king is just a man. He rules according to his own thoughts — Not God’s!
Truth is, God lead Israel in every occasion, except when they turned away from Him.
And, this is what they were doing now — and God knew it!
Obedience to God or the King?
Like many today, the people of Israel thought a new establishment would solve all their problems.
This change of government would bring positive change. But unfortunately, as we’ll see in later chapters, the change Saul brought was anything but.
You see, when we put our total faith in human leadership, we tend to take God out of the picture.
This is a recipe for disaster!
Yes, we should adhere to the elected leaders of our nation. They are there to represent us.
But, our first allegiance should be to God. We can’t replace Him with any government.
We think of peer pressure as a high school term. Not so! Peer pressure can even follow nations as we learned in this passage.
The desire to “be like everyone else” took precedence over the desire to follow God.
When we want something badly, we many times don’t look far enough down the road.
Living in an Unbelieving World
Having a king seemed appealing to Israel. After all, their neighboring countries had kings. But, they would later find that following a king instead of God was a really bad decision.
The other nations didn’t follow God at all. They seemed fine — on the surface!
Fact is, Israel was not like other nations. They were God’s chosen people. They knew what God could do and yet they turned away.
Yes, Israel wanted a king. They got what they asked for. But, this was totally against God’s plan for them.
As Christians, we are God’s children. And yes, we have to live among a world of unbelievers.
Some want to lead us away from God. Some even want to persecute us.
This is why it’s so important for us to remain faithful to God. This does not always mean we share the values of others. And, we will not always be popular.
Again, let’s make sure what we wish for is in tune with what God wants for us. Prayer can help us find the answer.
If you would like to discover how to receive the love and life-changing experience of Jesus Christ, please take a moment to see John 3:16 here.