Wanting a King
March 28 - Nº 87 1 Samuel 7 – 8
After what happened in Shemesh (see #86), the Israelites were afraid of the Ark. Eventually it was stored at the home of a man named Abinadab. But because God had demonstrated His power so radically, the people of Israel decided that it was time to serve Him again. Samuel warned them, “If you really want to do this, you must get rid of all your idols and worship only Him.” He gathered the whole nation together for a special service, and everyone dedicated themselves to God. They confessed that they had sinned, and Samuel prayed for them. When the Philistines heard that the Israelites had all gathered together in one place, they decided to attack. The people of Israel were frightened when they realized that the massive Philistine army was approaching. They begged Samuel to ask God to rescue them. Samuel sacrificed a burnt offering to the Lord and cried out for His help. God answered him with deafening thunder! The sound sent the Philistine army into such a panic that the Israelites were able to chase them down and defeat them. After the victory, Samuel set up a large stone as a monument. He called it Ebenezer, meaning “Rock of Help.” It was a permanent reminder of the amazing victory God had given them. As long as Samuel lived, God kept the Philistines from harming the Israelites, and Israel won back the cities the Philistines had taken from them. From then on, Samuel was not only a prophet and a priest for the nation—He became their judge. Samuel appointed his sons to be Israel’s next leaders. But they did not follow his example. They had no integrity. They accepted bribes in exchange for dishonest judgments. When the people realized this, they went to Samuel and said, “You are old, and your sons are corrupt. We want to be like all the other nations, so we want you to appoint a king to take your place.” This upset Samuel. But God told him, “Give them what they want. It is not you they are rejecting—it’s Me! They don’t want Me to be their king! But I want you to warn them what it will be like to have an earthly king.” So Samuel stood in front of them and described how an earthly king would abuse them and take advantage of them. He said, “He will take your sons away from you and make them serve in his military and plow his fields and work for him. He will turn your daughters into his cooks and bakers and perfumers. He will confiscate your fields and vineyards and give them to anyone he likes. He will tax you and take the best of everything you own for his own advantage. Meanwhile, you will get poorer and poorer. When you finally cry out to God for relief, He will not listen. Sadly, the people insisted that they wanted a king to lead them and fight their battles for them. They wanted to be like the other nations. Again, God told Samuel to give them what they wanted. Samuel sent everyone home, and he started looking for a king.
How easily are you convinced that you need what others have? Or that you want to do what they are doing? We get ourselves into difficult places in our relationship with God when we want to be like everyone else. A relationship with Him requires a life that is different from others. We need to let Him lead us and be our King!