Following their own persuasions, without consulting Samuel or praying to God, Israel’s lay leadership requested a king. That choice led them to a couple of disastrous mistakes.
First, the nature of the king they sought. Though the request hit Samuel like a punch between the eyes, God had foreseen the need and offered strict rules for a king. He would be an Israelite; he wouldn’t return to Egypt or marry many wives; he wouldn’t multiply his wealth and would keep a copy of the Mosaic Law to consistently read Deuteronomy 17:14-20.
Therefore, their request demonstrated an entirely new perspective. They wanted a king, not with the requirements God imposed, but “like the nations.” That remained an unresolved difference between Israel and God. They pleaded for permission to be like the nations. He warned them it would never happen. Except for isolated reigns, such as David’s, Hezekiah’s and Josiah’s, Israel never converted wholeheartedly to being God’s Chosen People, with the necessary holiness and singularity.
Christians have yet to learn from Israel’s impenitence. Like them, we don’t want to be the pounded protruding nail. In a permissive anti-Christian culture, we are especially susceptible to being of the world, not merely in it.
We must pay the price of being transformed into Christ’s likeness, not conformed to this world’s. Christ’s lifestyle we seek, though it chafes; the world’s we reject, though it fits and soothes! Richly endowed by the Holy Spirit, we refuse to act spiritually impoverished. Remarkably gifted by him, we refuse to be mere commoners. Overcomers of the world, we refuse to incompetently blunder thorough life.
Second, the heavier price to be paid. At God’s direction Samuel enumerated the costly nature of a king: every person and possession at his behest; his every domestic desire an imposition on all; his military demands incessant; the nation’s youth in the army at the sovereign’s command; the nation’s girls consigned to cook, bake and clean his palace.
No matter to the leaders. They knew what they wanted, though ignorant of what they needed: the perfect Old Testament example of post-modernism—don’t bother us with the facts! And, most flagrantly: they ignored the inevitable; that the king they chose as their servant would be their master and they the pawns of his policies, the bankers of his needs, the instruments of his will.
Many Americans repeat their mistake. However poorly the goals they have chosen serve them, they choose to continue embracing them. To them, any alternative in life is preferable to serving God. Whatever small price he demands for discipleship, they choose the spiritual bankrupting price of humanism. Again, anything NOT to admit God’s right to rule.
We must live with the results or the consequences of our choices. We have the freedom to reject God, but will we like the consequences? We have the right to obey God. And, if we do, we’ll always delight in its results. – Fini –
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