Israel Asks For A King
Read: 1 Samuel 8
Reflect: We read yesterday in Deuteronomy 17:14-20 about how God told his people that a king was coming – that one day they would have a king rule over them. Well, at this point in the story it hadn’t happened yet; God’s people had a good leader over them (Samuel), but he wasn’t a king. In 1 Samuel 8:5 we read that the people came to Samuel near the end of his time as leader and said, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
Have you ever experienced rejection before? Maybe you tried out for the school play but didn’t make it. Maybe you asked someone out on a date and got denied. Maybe you got your shot blocked all the way into next week in basketball. Nobody likes rejection. It hurts! That’s what Samuel felt at this moment. He had been a good leader of God’s people, but the people’s request for a king must have felt like a rejection. “What? Am I not good enough for them?” He must have thought.
So Samuel took that thought to God. He prayed about it… and look at what God said:
The Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. – 1 Samuel 8:7
Samuel took the people’s request for a king as a personal rejection, but he was wrong. God made it clear that when the people asked for a king, it wasn’t Samuel they were rejecting; It was Him. See, God has always been and will always be the rightful King. He deserves to sit on the throne of our hearts and to be our Ruler. But just like God’s people in this story, we reject God as a king and put other things in his place.
As we’ll read in the next few days, God’s people made a man named Saul their king. Saul started off okay, but eventually, he let the people down. The truth is, every other king can and will let us down. Think about this: Who or what is your king? Don’t just give a church answer – really think about it. Who or what do you follow after in life? What captures your attention? What do you spend the most time on? Where does your energy go? You’ll find your “king” at the end of those questions. But realize this…
When you bend your knee to someone or something else as king, you are rejecting God as your King. You are telling God, intentional or not, that He is not a good enough King for you, that He is not worth following, and that you don’t trust Him to lead your life. If you’ve ever experienced rejection, you know it hurts. God hurts when we reject Him because he wants the very best for our lives (read: John 10:10). But God’s best for our lives only comes about in God’s way. Take a moment today and ask God to remove from your life any other “kings” you have been worshipping and to take His rightful place as King of your heart. He is a good King, kind and just, strong and powerful, humble and considerate, and able to give you what you truly need in life – He will lead you well if you would follow after Him.