1 Samuel 8:1-22 NKJV
This seemingly simple story from the book of Samuel may not seem like much on the surface, however, this passage notes a very distinct and dark turning point for the nation of Israel. Samuel has began to show is age and it has become apparent that he will need a successor. His sons had been appointed to important positions of power, but the people of Israel had concerns. Samuel’s sons did not follow in his faithful and holy footsteps. “(3) they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.” The people of Israel had a great idea of their own instead; they asked Samuel to appoint a king. Israel had not had a king up until this point, but rather followed God’s instructions relayed to them through the high priest.
All of the surrounding nations in this land had kings of their own, and Israel was feeling left out. Now if we are being honest, we can understand where the Israelites were coming from, to a certain extent. All of the nations had a tangible king that was among them. Taking orders from an omnipresent being may have seemed odd, especially when everyone else in the world did not. However, Israel seems to have a short memory because every time, up until this point, when Israel obeyed God’s commands, He delivered them. The tangible world itself seems to put up the biggest fight against God. Even though Israel had the power of the true King at their backs, they would take one look at the tangible world in front of them and request to conform to earthly ways rather than the divine. Man’s desire to conform to the material world poses the greatest threat to their own salvation.
Continuing on, Samuel takes the people’s request to God Himself. We do not see a reaction of anger from God, but rather sorrow. Samuel felt as though he was being rejected, however God said “(7) for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me.” Time and time against God had delivered the Israelites, but at every turn they were obsessed with what the tangible world had to offer. God wanted what was best for them, but He also gave them free will. It appears at this point, God is going to advise them against appointing a worldly king, but He already knows that they will not heed the advice. God has Samuel tell them about all the baggage that will come with having an earthly king. The king will take you sons, daughters, harvest, money. etc. and when they cry out, God will not be there to hear them because they did not obey. Israel does not listen and appoint Saul as king. Needless to say, thing eventually go south, just as God had said.
As a parent, you do everything in your power to teach your children about the world and hope that they listen to your advise, but at some point you just have to let them go and learn for themselves. This is essential the constant struggle that goes on between Israel and God in the entire Old Testament. They do make their way back to God after hitting rock bottom, but as soon as they get back to smooth sailing, they wander away again. This story was put in the Bible, not only to give you a backstory for the Israelites, but to act as advise for us in current times.
We live in a materialistic world, with temptations at every corner. The world around you is constantly telling you to do things for yourselves; make yourself happy, you deserve it. Any mention of the divine/metaphysical realm is met with constant mockery in today’s society. I think it is safe to say that man has a very minuscule understanding of the way the universe works, any true scientist can attest to that, however, there are those among us that think far to highly of themselves. They believe that what they can observe is the limit of knowledge, and scoff at the idea of exploring the intangible. The fact that Christian ideas and values are met with such overwhelming opposition only confirms that the constant battle of good and evil is ever present in our world. I believe that this story was put into place for us to realize that putting our trust in the material world may seems reasonable and obvious, but in reality the truth only comes from above. The world, however, will do everything in its power to convince you that this is a laughable notion and you are less than intelligent for believing such fantasies. Do not trust the world around you. Take a real close look at the world you live in. You’ll likely find it less than ideal. Perhaps man does not know what is best for man.