Friday, June 26, 2009

9/40: We Want What We Want

How's that for some alliteration? ;-)

This is yesterday's post.

1 Samuel.

The Kings of Israel were not God's idea. He set up a system of Judges. However, when Samuel's sons were grown they did not walk in the ways of the LORD and the people of Israel asked for a king. they're reasoning: because that's what all the other nations did. (8:5)

The first time I remember learning about the fact that the Israelites asked for a king was in the fall of 2003. I was reading a book by Elisabeth Elliot and she included a letter from a reader that asked her something along the lines of "Is it wrong for a single woman to desire a husband like all of her friends around her? Is that along the lines of Israel demanding a king when they had God?"

God tells Samuel to warn the Israelites what will happen if they have a king:

"This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons . . . He will take your daughters. . . He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves . . . He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage . . .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 that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day." (8:11-18)

Ok - so - fairly convincing evidence that you don't want a king, right? I mean - we've got a God who shows up in pillars of ire and clouds and talks to his prophets through burning bushes and audible voices - that sounds better than this king. So how do the Israelites respond?

But the people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles." (8:19-20)

those two verses are perfect "sermon outline ready" verses. Let's see -

I. Refusal to Listen
II. It's all about what they want.
III. Comparing themselves to those around them.
A. Quick refresher: the other people - are NOT the chosen ones of God
B. They've been repeatedly told to have nothing to do with the majority of the people around them.
IV. They say want a leader.
A. They already have a leader - God.
B. God has also given them prophets and judges.
C. I sense discontentment.
V. To fight their battles
A. God's already said he'd do that
B. He's Proven it.
1. Red Sea anyone?
2. Walls tumbling down?
3. I could go on

But - God give them their king. Saul.

Like the woman who was asking if demanding a husband was similar to this - there are many other things in our lives where we demand of God some thing - - something to fight out battles, to lead and guide us, to make us like the people around us. We've been told of the consequences of these things - the consequences of a life-consuming job, of a unhealthy relationship, of a lifestyle beyond our means. But somehow we manage to not listen to the warnings. And - God gives us over to our desires - he lets us have that think that we are desiring for all the wrong reasons. And in the end - "we cry out for relief from the king we've chosen."

I've been there, done that. Had things I thought I wanted take from me more than I realized they would. I have lived with the consequences of kings I have demanded from God. Hopefully I am learning to be a better listener to the warnings around me and to remember that God has promised to be my leader and to fight my battles and that I don't need to be like anyone around me.

*disclaimer: I am not saying that jobs/relationships/nice things are inherently bad obviously. It's all about the motivation for having them and how you view them :)

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