Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 16: Israel desires a king Saul chosen – 1 Samuel 8

When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. 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. 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 us, such as all the other nations have.” But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 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…Now the day before Saul came, the LORD had revealed this to Samuel: “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over my people Israel; he will deliver them from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked on my people, for their cry has reached me.” When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the LORD said to him, “This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people.”

Isn’t it amazing how easily we can see the flaws in someone else’s plan? We can clearly see the pitfalls of political programs suggested by people of differing viewpoints. Such is the plight of the people of Israel.

The people of Israel had been governed by judges, appointed by God, to administer to their needs. Samuel had grown old and was grooming his two sons to be the next judges of Israel. Israel had begun to look to the other nations and desire to be more like them. The corruption of Samuel’s sons helped further fuel this wish.

On the surface, the request seems harmless enough. We, as Americans, were fueled to become a nation by the longing to displace disreputable rulers and have traditionally been very sympathetic to peoples governed by such rulers.

A deeper analysis reveals a much greater problem for the people of Israel. The system of judges was designed to help Israel see that God was their king and He was to be their ruler. Wishing for an earthly king was an open turning away from God and a desire to adopt secular ways.

Samuel was personally hurt, but God showed him that Israel’s rebellion was not against Samuel but a rebellion against God Himself. God told Samuel to go to the people of Israel and list all the negatives that will go with this wish for a king. Samuel hits them with quite a thorough list. Can’t you just hear your parents telling you all the negatives connected to some great desire you had as a teenager? Do you remember how your focus on that desire allowed you to easily discount those negatives? And do you remember how sage your parents turned out to be?

It is amazing that though God allows the people of Israel to have their king, and as contrary as granting that wish was to His will for them, He then used the monarchial path through David to show Israel the ancestor of their coming King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Though our prayer requests are often versed in secular needs, God hears our requests and turns them into what we truly need.
-Marvin Drier

Eternal Lord, Ruler of all, graciously regard those who have been set in positions of authority among us that they may be guided by Your Spirit, be high in purpose, wise in counsel, firm in good resolution, and unwavering in duty, that under them we may be governed quietly and peaceably; through Christ, our Lord. Amen

Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS used by permission for private and congregational use
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved
Collect for Good Government – Lutheran Worship © 1980 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis

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