Last week I shared with you about the way the Israelites were governed. Before the time of the kings, Israel was a theocratic state which meant that God was their king. Israel did not have kings like other nations that surrounded them but had prophets. They received guidance from this king (God) through the prophets. It was the prophets who delivered God’s message to his people. Prophets were anointed by God and spent most of the time trying to be in fellowship with God. The prophets were the intermediaries between God and his people and they were the bridges that connected God to the people. Prophets were in charge of all sacrifices that were done by people to God.
According to God’s analysis the office of the king that people were asking for came with the following disadvantages:
- A king would reign over them: Yahweh lives among his people and does not reign over them. God made a promise to his people from the beginning that he was going to be with them and be there for them. He is an omnipresent God. When we invite God to live with us and among us there is a continued fellowship that makes us feel secure and comfortable regardless of the setting we find ourselves in.
- A king will take their sons to work on his chariots and horses: Yahweh does not need to take anything, for everything belongs to him. A king will require people to give their sons and daughters to work for him, very often without compensation.
- A king will appoint commanders to go to war: Yahweh is the only commander and directs his winning through his angels. These commanders can be misused by the king to take revenge or fight personal battles, not that which belongs to the interests of the people. God will always fight for us.
- A king will make their daughters work for him: Yahweh does not require anybody to work for him other than accept his saving love and live according to God’s boundaries of love.
- A king will take the best fields from them: Yahweh does not need any fields of land. He created all that there is. He will not compensate them for what he takes. That means he is going to exploit their resources to enrich himself.
- A king will take a tenth of all the grain that they harvested: All that Yahweh requires of us is our broken heart. God will never despise a contrite heart. He does not need any grains or any animals. A tenth should only be given to God, not to any leader.
- A king will make servants of sons and daughters: Yahweh does not need any servant but calls us to be his disciples to spread his love to the world.
- A king will make slaves out of your children: We are God’s children so Yahweh will never make us slaves. We will always be sons and daughters of the most high God.
The Israelites were not satisfied with this arrangement of God as their king but rather wanted to be like everybody else. Wanting to be like everybody else is not always the right thing to want. We are individuals who have unique characteristics. What the Israelis kept forgetting was that they were chosen to be an example to the whole world. They were blessed so that they could be a blessing to others. Therefore, the decision was to have this king who, according to them and what they saw from their neighbors, was to be the go-to person. They did not realize what they were asking. They wanted a king no matter what.
- A king to rule over them: By asking for a king over them they were not only rejecting Samuel as God’s voice but they were rejecting YAHWEH who was their king, the one who had delivered them from the land of bondage to the land of promise.
- A king to be a judge: God was always their judge. He was a fair judge and never needed any favors to judge justly. He was a righteous judge. Now they were asking for a king/judge who they could influence and sway to their side. That meant justice would never be guaranteed any more. The poor and the marginalized would not receive justice again from the earthly king.
- A king to go before them: God lead his people by being ahead of them through a pillar of cloud. At night he had a shining star guide them. Like the star that guided the Magi, God stood before them and made sure that they were in the right place. Now they were telling Samuel that they didn’t wish for God to go before them. This thinking failed to see that as a human king, he would be limited to what he could see ahead and he could easily lead the people to danger. No earthly king is as powerful as God our king. In other words, people were choosing a weaker king from the stronger one. God in Omnipotent. No human king in omnipotent. The Israelites made a bad choice.
- A king to fight their battles: The Israelites were surrounded by nations which had a king. Though none of the living were alive in Egypt they must have heard stories of the great pharaohs that used to rein in the land of Egypt and the mighty things they did. In Canaan they were surrounded by many tribes who had kings over them and wanted what they had. They forgot they never lost any battles where God was their king and commander.
From this story we can learn the following lessons:
- Allow God to reign over us: As children, we should allow God to take control over our lives so that we might be the best we can be.
- Allow God to fight our battles: One of the things the word of God reminds us is that since God is on our side we should not fear anything. In Jesus we are more than conquerors. We have to remind ourselves that the battles for a believer belong to God. We are not fighting against flesh and blood.
- Trust God to guide us: Our walk with God is that of trust. We are reminded that “all other places are sinking sand, but Christ is the solid rock on which we stand.” When we commit ourselves to God to be our guide, he will lead us to the path of righteousness. It is the psalmist that calls God his shepherd, who leads him in quiet waters and to the paths of righteousness. God is able to see what our human eyes can’t see and is able to shield us from all dangers that are directed to us.