“In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes”. Judges 21:25 (Bible Hub)

As the book of Judges wraps up a bleak 400-year period in Israel’s history, it was marked as a time of great struggle. The Bible warns us over and over not to make ourselves king or to want others to rule over us. It leads to all kinds of bad things like separation from God and the worship of idols. The book of 1 Samuel shows us that Israel didn’t learn much during this 400-year period.  Seven times in the book of Judges, we see Israel in a pattern where the people sin and turn from God. They cried out to the Lord for help.  The Lord raised up a judge to win a battle for them and deliver them from their enemies. God deliverers them with the judge and a military victory to win back their freedom. This is followed by a few years of silence, and then, they start that process all over again. Samuel being the last judge is chosen by God to anoint the first king of Israel. He knows and pleads with the people that it’s not best for them but that God should be their king.  Israel looks around at all the other nations and they want to be like everybody around them. (That always gets you in trouble.) Just read the verses below and think about the consequences of having a king - a physical king they can see rather than an invisible God who has led them and provided for them so many times in their history.

1st Samuel 8:10-11  So Samuel spoke all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “Here are the policies of the king who will rule over you:

  • he will conscript your sons and put them in his chariot forces and in his cavalry; they will run in front of his chariot.
  • 12 He will appoint for himself leaders of thousands and leaders of fifties, as well as those who plow his ground, reap his harvest, and make his weapons of war and his chariot equipment.
  • 13 He will take your daughters to be ointment makers, cooks, and bakers.
  • 14 He will take your best fields and vineyards and give them to his own servants.
  • 15 He will demand a tenth of your seed and of the produce of your vineyards and give it to his administrators and his servants.
  • 16 He will take both your male and female servants, as well as your best cattle and your donkeys, and assign them for his own use.
  • 17 He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will be his servants.
  • 18 In that day you will cry out because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord won’t answer you in that day” (1 Samuel 8:10-18).

This was a tragic decision for Israel – one that they warned about from Samuel and God that came with very high consequences. Isn’t that the struggle we still fight today? We want the safety of the king (or leaders we can see), we sign up for comprise and God’s discipline in our lives because we choose other god’s or idols before Him.  I think the saddest consequence of all was their separation and loss of dependence on God. Notice verse 18 again, “you will cry out because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord won’t answer you in that day” Whenever we surrender our lives to anyone or anything other than the Lord there is a life of misery and pain ahead for us and a distance with the one who created for us for Him. So, if you’re tempted to start looking around at what others have and put their trust in, be sure and stop and reread these verses. Ask the Lord for grace and focus on Him and His plans to lead and guide you. May we learn some lessons of from the Old Testament of the importance of wanting God to be our King and not those things or rulers we can see.

by Jerry Hull, Pastor of Children's Ministry

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