Lent Devotional: 1 Samuel 8:1-22
by Jonathan Haefs
1 Samuel 8:1-22 (click here)
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him… “Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.”
And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them…only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations…” (1 Samuel 8:4-5, 7, 9, 19-20)
“like all the nations…”
Make us like everybody else. That was Israel’s essential request. They had been led out of slavery by God… redeemed by God… brought to a new land by God… established their nation by God… forgiven by God as they forsook him over and over again… they belonged to God!
The very purpose for which he had saved them was so that they might be different from all the other nations of the world… set apart as his people… a holy nation.
Exodus 19:6, “…you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”
But they did not want to be a city set on a hill for all the world to see and behold the light of God through his people. No… they wanted to be in the valley where they could hide their light under a bushel and party with everyone else.
They rejected the kind of community their King had created them to be.
And they were warned.
Through the prophet Samuel, God warned his people that there is no such thing as life without a king, and any option aside from himself will eventually fall short. But they didn’t care… and all too often neither do we.
Life without a king simply doesn’t exist.
Everyone has a ruler, even if they believe it to be themselves. As Christians, we have been recreated as a community of king Jesus! We’ve been set apart, made a city on a hill, that through our sacrificial love for one another the world might see a reflection of the sacrificial love of God most clearly displayed through the cross.
But oh how strong is the temptation to want to be like all the other people of the world. In our own western culture, that temptation specifically takes shape in the desire to be our own king and captain of our soul.
Oh people of God, hear the warning of God through the Word of God… we make bad kings! You have been freely given the greatest king who offers you the greatest joy… himself! You… we… have been given Jesus! May we be a people, a community who cling to our king!