This past Sunday we studied 1 Samuel 8 and saw that the people came to Samuel and demanded a king so they could be like all the other nations around them. The focus of my sermon was on Israel's (and our own) obsession with wanting to be like the world around us; we want to fit in, be relevant, embrace whatever is trendy, be cool, etc.; we try so hard not to offend anyone that we essentially become indistinguishable from the world. In doing all this we deny our essential identity as God's people - "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession" (1 Pet 2:9). To be "holy" means to be set apart, unique, distinct, separate ... not that we're supposed to dress funny and act weird, but rather we're to be so enamored with Christ that our speech, attitudes, actions, and lifestyle is constantly and consistently pointing to the glory, power, sufficiency, mercy, joy, love, and grace of Jesus Christ. Yet Israel denied their true identity as Israel and we, also, typically deny our true identity as the church. We're far too fascinated with the world to allow our faith in Christ to disrupt our love affair with worldly things.
What I didn't really address last Sunday was Samuel's warning to the people after they made the demand for a king. If you go back and read through chapter 8 you'll see Samuel clearly telling the people that this king will be characterized by one word ... "take." He will "take your sons" as soldiers (vs.11-12); he "will take your daughters" as servants (v.13); he "will take" their best fields and vineyards (v.14); he "will take" their servants, cattle, and donkeys (v.16); he "will take" a tenth of their harvest and flocks (vs.15-17). Did Samuel not adequately convey to them that their request for a king would result in this king "taking" from them? Just in case he wasn't clear enough he said in v.17 "you shall be his slaves." Yet they again made their demand, "there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations" (vs.19-20). I guess deep down they missed Egypt.
Though we would never put it in such terms, deep down we miss being in slavery. We don't know how to really handle the true freedom we find in Christ and resort to finding comfort being enslaved to old sins (even though we're dead to them), old masters (who are defeated by Christ), and an old life (though we've been raised to new life). This is much different than King Jesus. He came "not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45)
As was noted, the idea of having a king isn't a wrong idea. The question is "who?" Do we want to be our own king? Do we want to submit to a king of our own choosing? Or are we willing to submit to the one true king, Jesus Christ, who gives Himself to us every day?
This week (9 August) we will be looking at 1 Samuel 9. We'll examine Samuel's secret anointing of Saul and all that was involved in that. Hopefully we will come away with a greater trust in what God is doing in our lives, even when we can't understand all the "whys" and "hows." Please prayerfully read this chapter as you prepare for worship this Sunday.