John 8:34-36 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV)
Read John 8:34-36 and 1 Samuel Chapter 8, Jesus talks about being a slave to sin and how to escape that slavery. The people of Israel wanted a king, so Samuel took it to God in prayer, and God told him to give them a king, and sent him to anoint Saul. God upholds mankind’s freedom of choice, even when we are wrong.
Why do you think that the Israelites asked for a King? I mean they already had God personally available to them through his prophets and through prayer. If you think about it, the only thing they didn’t have was the Holy Spirit living within them and salvation through Christ. However, when Jesus came he died for all who accept him, whether they died before he was born and was sacrificed or not.
I know, you are say, “How does that work?” “How could they have accepted Jesus as their savior if Jesus had not been born yet?!!”
I know it seems a difficult concept, but if you realize that God is timeless, and that time is not an issue for Him, then it becomes more easily acceptable. The main thing is that the Jews were living with the prophets and the prophecies that were being made about the Messiah and they accepted that there would be a Messiah who would come to save them. Although for the most part they didn’t understand what to expect from that Messiah, and believed that he would form an earthly kingdom in the there and then when he came. The most important thing is that they had faith that what God said would happen would happen, so they accepted the Messiah, Immanuel – God with Us, would come and save them. God gave them “credit” for following him and believing in him and his promises.
We are told that God justified those in the Old Testament who followed and believed in Him by their faith. Habakkuk 2:4 Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith. (NKJV) and Galatians 3:11 quotes Habakkuk in this to reiterate what is said in the Old Testament But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. In Romans 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” we are further told that it is faith that justifies not anything that we can physically do for God. However, to show that we love God we are told that the way to do that is to be obedient to him…John 14:23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
So now, back to the idea of a King…why would anyone want one? If you look at all the things that God had Samuel tell the Israelites would happen to them when they got a King it is a daunting list of undesirables. Samuel was heartbroken about them wanting a King, but God told him that it wasn’t his fault..that the one who was being rejected was God himself, not Samuel who was only God’s prophet. The person who conveyed God’s words to the people.
So looking at the Bible we were told that the primary reason the Israelites wanted a King was “so that we can be just like everyone else around us….just like our neighbors” 1Samuel 8:4-5 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” (NKJV)
So if we look at what they are saying, 1) they wanted to be just like the people around them in the neighboring nations, and 2) they didn’t trust God to provide another good prophet for them.
After all, just because Samuel’s sons were the sons of a prophet and Samuel appointed them to be judges over the people, does not necessarily mean that God would make them his prophets…or let them remain the corrupt judges that they were. Samuel should have understood that from what happened with Eli’s sons. They didn’t get to take over for him either…God took care of that situation. Apparently, Samuel wasn’t any better at parenting and teaching his sons to be honest and Godly than Eli was…they were bribe takers.
Now God, chose Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the people of Israel to be his people so that they could be different from the nations around them. He wanted them to be in close contact with Him so that they could be living examples of God’s grace and love to the other nations. So that they could show the other nations the character of God and bring the other nations closer to God. God wanted them to trust Him and let Him lead them.
By asking for a King they were failing to trust God in all circumstances. They were not trusting God for the future…they were trying to plan around Samuel’s sons. They should have done that by praying and then asking Samuel to tell them what God was going to do about the future when he, Samuel, wasn’t there to lead them anymore. That would have been the correct response of trust in God. However, they didn’t and so we have the Israelites distancing themselves from God instead of drawing closer to Him.
God is kind enough to warn them of the consequences of their actions…but they don’t listen. This is kind of like when a parent tells the kid not to eat too much candy, that it will make them sick to their stomach. Then allowing the kid to eat too much candy anyway because they keep insisting on more candy. This is a case of the parent allowing the kid to learn their lesson the hard way.
God was doing the same thing, allowing the Israelites their “freewill choice” of accepting or rejecting God. He was allowing them to have a King and see that it was just as bad as He said it would be.
How many of us in our various nations are still looking for that next “leader” who will “fix” everything? I know that my own nation is doing that. Every time there is an election everyone talks about the candidates and what they are and are not going to do. Although they are elected instead of appointed, they are still our leader….in a smaller vein we find in work places and churches and groups when things are not going so well that people are more likely to look to finding a new work place, church, or group, or finding a new “leader” for that work place, church, or group, than they are to sit down as a group and pray and look to God to see how the group can be made to be functional and unified and Godly again. So it appears that it is rather hard to sit in “judgment” on the Israelites in this case, as man has not changed…people are still looking in the wrong place for leadership. God keeps allowing that, because He wants us to voluntarily without reservation choose to follow him. He doesn’t want servants who are reluctant, God wants his people to love him and obey him because they want to do so! God does not want people who are obeying him because someone else made them do it, but by their own free will. The choice is always up to us.
Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)
Hebrews 12:2 Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NASB)