“‘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. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do’” (1 Samuel 8:7)
It is good to ask for things from God. But what if we don’t seem to hear anything from Him and it feels like the answer might disturbingly be “No” to our requests? How many times have we continued to insist on our way in life, just because we want what we want when we want it? Be careful what you wish for because the desires of our hearts may not be in our best interests. The Lord might not be answering your prayer because He has something even better planned for you; better than we ever dreamed. Having faith in God anyway, in spite of our conflicting desires seemingly not being met is always in our best interest.
It reminds me of my little boy who was 3 years old and barely potty-trained; however he would still constantly wet his bed at night (and sometimes ours too). So his mom and I would put a diaper on him at night and this worked for a while, but he watched and admired his older brother who didn’t wear a diaper to bed. And then he made up his mind that he shouldn’t have a diaper and that we as parents were wrong in our decision. He began to fight back and insist by pleading, kicking and screaming endlessly to not wear a diaper to bed. And we overwhelmingly loved him enough to let him choose his own path in that moment even though we knew it would be a miserable choice in which he would wake up once or twice a night in a puddle of his own urine. And so the misery began for him, but initially he was happy with his choice; he felt older and more mature despite the nightly urinary accidents.
Israel was not that different from our younger son. They felt miserable as they compared themselves with other nations and they wanted a king, becoming more-and-more insistent with God that a king was in their best interest.
In 1 Samuel 8:5 the people said to him (that is, they said to Samuel, God’s priest and prophet), “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.”
How many times in our lives have we told God that our way is better than His and told Him what we want instead of listening and responding to what He is telling us is right for us? I still laugh when I think about it because we all do what they did. Yes it can be difficult to see God’s side of things. Israel saw its neighbors with kings and insisted to God that a king would be right for them because it was the way of the world at that time. They didn’t want to be left out.
However we learn from the First Letter of John the Apostle: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15). If we leave the Lord out of our plans, God’s many blessings on us will be placed into jeopardy.
Israel was looking at the kingdoms around them and noticed that their neighbors all had kings. They were determined to get a king for their country and they despised the current governmental system the Lord had set up for them even though God had pointed out that it was created in their best interest (see today’s verse). Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the God who loves us became the leader of the country we live in? It would be good but we might not be content.
God was concerned and strongly warned them before answering their insistent cries:
“And the Lord told him (Samuel): ‘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. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do’” (1 Samuel 8:7).
It saddens me to hear the words of the Lord in the above verse: “the people have rejected Me as their king.” That people’s faith was not in the Lord. They wanted what their neighbors had. Their faith was in the worldly things they saw in other kingdoms, just like we imitate other people and other groups today. They thought a human king would be the answer to their problems or maybe it was indeed just as simple as desiring to be more like the rest of the world, like my son wanted to be more like his brother. Israel would not, could not see and did not hear Samuel’s words that they already had a perfect King. And before the Lord granted their requests; they were warned about what would happen because of their request:
In 1 Samuel 8:11, He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do; He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When the day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
We all have a time in our lives when we can trust in the Lord, and this was their moment to place their faith in Him, open their ears to what He was saying and heed His warning. This was His final warning, much as a parent would say to a child: “Just listen to me please; you don’t know what you are asking; it will only bring you misery.” They demanded a king and God warned them, much like He is warning us today: “Listen to me. Have faith, for these things are not the ways I have intended for you and you will not be happy with the results of getting the things you are asking for."
And finally, the Lord, because of their stubbornness, provided Israel with what they insisted was best for them. They received the answer to their own desires, they got their king and all the warnings the Lord had given them did come to pass.
Lord, forgive us our sins of insisting that our way is right. We have been foolish for You know what is right for us. Though we may not always understand, give us guidance and lead us, for You are our true King and our God. We may not always understand but we know You are ever watching out for us and we needn’t worry. Forgive us for being foolish and naive, Lord, and help us to follow Your ways. In Jesus Name. Amen.
“Insistent With The Lord” by Jon Beckham
Audio by Pastor Ron Beckham (Ron@FridayStudy.org)
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