4 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.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. I Samuel 8:4-6 (NKJV)
Monday, May 13, 2013
Did God Want a King?
One Year Bible
Old Testament passages for May 10-12, 2013: 1 Samuel 8:1-13:23
A complex turn of events surrounds the rise of kingship in Israel. Throughout the history of the children of Israel, they did not have a king. In the earliest days, Israel was a family led by Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). Then Moses and Aaron were Lawgivers who welded this family of twelve tribes into a nation. Joshua was a Military General who transitioned the nation into an advancing and occupying army.
The mighty Judges were never kings. In fact, at one point, the people wanted to elevate Gideon (perhaps the mightiest of the judges) to be king. They proposed a kingship complete with hereditary succession to the throne. "Then the men of Israel said to Gideon, 'Rule over us, both you and your son, and your grandson also; for you have delivered us from the hand of the Midianites.'" (Jud. 8:22) But Gideon refused. He said to them, "I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you." (Jud. 8:23)
By contrast, however, we read that the lack of central authority was a plaguing problem of those times. In Judges 21:25 we read, "In those days there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in his own eyes." In addition, we find passages in which God speaks grandly of the type of king He will raise up. In Deuteronomy 17, the Lord prophecies that a king shall arise and He then gives the manner in which this God-ordained king should rule. Concerning David’s rule, God says, “I have provided Myself a king” (I Sam 16:1). The prophecies concerning the throne of David are the some of the strongest Messianic passages in the Old Testament (II Sam. 7:12-16).
So, did God want a king to rule over Israel or not? Did Israel miss God’s will by demanding that Samuel raise up a king for them?
In the early chapters of I Samuel, the pressure toward raising up an earthly king reached a critical point. It is clear that Samuel and God Himself did not want this new office of king (I Sam. 8:4-18). But really, it was not the OFFICE of King that God resisted, but it was the KIND of King that was the problem.
The key phrase in Israel’s request for a king was “like all the nations” (I Sam. 8:5, 20). God forewarns that the WRONG KIND OF KING will only take Israel back into bondage. It is clear that Israel’s desire for a king was not aimed at helping them to better fulfill their divine destiny, but instead to simply survive in a world of chaos and conflict.
God had plans to raise up the RIGHT KIND OF KING. He sought a “man after His own heart” (I Sam. 13:14) who would shepherd Israel into a kingdom that would never end. God had plans, but Israel could not wait.
This speaks to the challenge facing each one of us today. In the face of the immense demands that surround us, will we wait upon God’s best or will we demand our immediate relief? I believe God always wanted godly authority to rule Israel. But, in the haste of survival instinct, they demanded second best.
The big difference here is GOD’S WAYS versus MAN’S WAYS. King Saul was a “taker”. Earthly leadership is self-centered and self-serving. But, God’s King will be a SERVANT. Jesus came not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom! (Matt. 20:28) That is the picture of the King. That is the picture of godly leadership. That is the picture of Jesus!