Choosing your poison. Israel’s demand for a king. Studying 1 Samuel 8:19-22

The book of Proverbs dedicates a lot of space to talking about the “fool,” the person who lives a life in opposition to the wisdom of God. The chief way a person can be a fool is in a failure to fear the Lord. We do this when we try to take God off of his thrown. Other examples of foolishness.

Proverbs 28:26

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered.

In 1 Samuel 8, the Israelites speak up and say that they want a king to lead them. The problem is that they wanted a human king instead of God as their king. 

And in this passage, the Israelites were trusting their own minds. Their own desires and will.And again there are many other examples in the book of Proverbs. 

The people are going against the wisdom of God. And the chief way they’re doing this is the failure to fear the Lord and to honor him above all else. 

Had they done that, they would have realized that they didn’t need a king. That they had everything they already needed in God. 

The best way to know the will of God is to know his word. There are things we can do which are totally contrary to the wisdom of God. For the Israelites, it had been explained to them why a king was not going to be good for them. And they wanted it anyway. 

And again, we can do that too. We can have all of the reasons to know that something will not be good for us. But then we do it. The Bible has wisdom in regards to how we manage our households, our finances, our health, our rest, our language. It’s in our best interest to get with the program. To live for God. To follow his wisdom. 

Sometimes we even know better and continue to do what we want anyway. 

It’s so easy to let the ways of the world influence us more than it is us influencing the ways of the world. We might not be asking for an earthly king, but we so often want another god. We so often look to areas of life that we think will lead to our flourishing. 

Because of his goodness, God insisted that the Israelites be warned with what they were doing. He TOLD them it wouldn’t work well. And we receive warnings in God’s word. 

The heart of the issue isn’t just about wanting a different king. It was putting something over God. And any time we choose to go against God, to go against his word, we’re putting ourselves on the throne. 

Is there’s something you don’t have right now, but where you think “if only I had THIS” everything would be better? Or you’d truly be happy? 

Don’t replace the true king. The issue is when we buy into the lies of what objects or relationships can give us and place those on a pedestal above God and the true fulfillment, and purpose, and grace, and the life that comes from him. There is a price to be paid for wanting to change the king.

At the end of the passage, the Israelites make their choice. 

Verses 19-20: 

19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us,20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

In this chapter of the story, it doesn’t tell us too much about the result. But upon continuing to read in the Old Testament, the things that Samuel had warned about did end up befalling the Israelites. With the advent of the monarchy, it did institute high taxes, losses of land, more wars. And the kings weren’t there to fight their battles for them. And those problems would continue to spiral from one generation to the next. 

Isn’t that what happens in our lives too? When we decide to go against the wisdom of God? There are consequences for that. They might be external. They might be in our environment. But they’re also always going to be internal.

Our sins, our putting things ahead of God, our living life as though a new king or a new source of purpose is going to fulfill us will chip away at our relationship with God. 

God allows us to make bad decisions. It is sometimes through the tough decisions and struggles that we see that there is no other way besides God.

God is the one true king. He is to be the king of your life. It’s not about looking elsewhere when we’re struggling. 

In spite of the sin of the people, God was still gracious. Because God is a good God who is faithful to his promises. 

The first king of Israel was Saul. But he would be replaced in the following generation by King David. And through David, came a line that would lead to the king of kings, the Lord Jesus. Even though God allowed for their to be a new king, he was always the one who was really in charge. He was always the one who was still sovereignly reigning and ruling in the world. For all eternity past, God had known what the Israelites were going to do and had already known how he was going to work through the sins of his people to bring about his kingdom. 

But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s God’s desire for our obedience and to properly worship him as the king. We are to listen to his warnings. It’s his will for us to put him first, to worship him alone, to place our trust in him.  

Don’t look to earthly kings when we have a heavenly king. Because unlike earthly kings who sin and fail, who can be in things for their own gain, our heavenly king is perfect, and he is just as he rules and reigns supreme over all creation.

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