Samuel was getting old. He had served God his entire life and given leadership to the nation of Israel throughout his adult years. Now, as he approached the end of his life, he assumed that his sons would follow in his steps and provide godly leadership. “But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.” (1 Samuel 8:3)
The people of Israel did not want to follow Samuel’s sons, so they gathered together and made their demands known. They said to Samuel, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” (1 Samuel 8:5)
Samuel was displeased with their request. But the Lord said to 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. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you.” (1 Samuel 8:7-8)
It’s not that kings are necessarily bad, but Israel was supposed to be different from the surrounding nations. To distinguish them, God had provided His laws to serve as their guide for life, and He had provided prophets and judges to give them spiritual leadership.
It would be a mistake to think that the people responded as they did to Samuel because they were concerned about having godly leadership for their nation. God indicated that their real motivation was rebellion against His leadership in their personal lives. They wanted to live life without God’s authority over them. Instead, they took their cues from the surrounding nations and wanted a government that looked like theirs.
This is a political year in our nation and soon the television and mailbox will be filled with an abundance of political ads. Most Americans have an opinion as to who will be the best President next term to lead our nation and represent us to the world. Will President Trump retain the position or will someone else be voted in?
For Christ-followers there is a much more important question to ask. Not once every four years, but daily I must ask, “Who will be king of my life today, me or God? Who will be in charge? Will I lay aside my agenda for God’s or, like a spoiled child, will I demand my own way?”
Multiple times each day we are faced with this question. Regardless of how long you’ve known the Lord as your Savior, as we are confronted by temptations, a part of us wants to be in charge. In our relationships, there are times our sin nature raises its head and screams, “I want my way.”
The Bible records the history of various kings of Israel in the years following Samuel. Some were godly, but many did not promote God. The results of wicked kings were not pretty. The results in my life when I do what I want to do instead of submitting to God are also not pretty. Guilt, shame, hurt feelings, strained or broken relationships, and a sense of boredom prevail.
“Lord, You are King. I am not. Help me today to submit my life, including my mouth, to Your will.”