1 Samuel 8:4-20 “…they (the Israelites) said to him, “Behold, you (Samuel) have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations. But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.’ … The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them…The people refused to listen to 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, that our king may judge us and go our before us and fight our battles.”
The dark period of the judges exuded a signal of hope when God raised Samuel as a prophet, priest, and judge. Samuel, though imperfect, was committed to keeping the ways of His Lord. Though Samuel was appointed as a mediator to the Israelites' true King, they began to plead for an earthly king. They begged for one to rule over them in order that they may “be like all the nations.” They wanted a judge, one to go before them, and someone to fight their battles. Samuel was no longer enough, and as they cast their glances of comparison at their enemy nations, they opted that they too needed a king.
In 1 Samuel 8:11 – 17, Samuel told them of the LORD's words regarding the negative repercussions that would follow from them gaining a king. What would it look like for the Israelites to have a king? Here are some of the things the LORD said: he will reign over you, he will take your sons and they will run before his chariots, he will take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers, he will take the best of your fields, he will take a tenth of your seed, he will also take your male and female servants and use them for his work, he will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants.
“Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.” (1 Samuel 8:18)
In His permissive will, God allowed the Israelites to obtain that for which they wished. Samuel appointed a man named Saul as the earthly king over the Israelites. Saul failed to obey the commands of the Lord, missing the mark towards the victorious king for which the Israelites had hoped. Nonetheless, a system of earthly kings ruling over the people of Israel had been established. All the kings to follow would be unsuccessful in meeting the Israelites' hopeful expectations.
Even in the midst of the Israelites' plea, which was actually a rejection of Yahweh, God's glory is not reduced. He does not fight for His rightful lordship over His chosen ones, but sets the stage for the completion of the Gospel by using the lineage of the kingship that He permitted. For in the disobedience and failings of Saul and all future kings, the kingdom clock ticked to display one who would disrobe His divine kingly garment. And this One would be the fulfillment of all that the earthly kings lacked. Samuel was a prophet, priest, and judge. Christ is the fulfillment of the prophecies, the Great High Priest, and the Judge. Christ is King. Christ is Lord. Christ is Master. Christ does indeed judge, go before them, and fight their battles. And His glory is made known.
It seems dumbfounding that the Israelites would know ahead of time the harmful consequences (v. 11-17) of their getting the king for which they asked and yet still plead for one! They would lose sons and daughters to the king’s service, he would reign over them, and even they themselves would become his servants. Yet they continued to ask, thereby rejecting the LORD.
And yet, don’t we do the same sisters? Do we not knowingly sometimes reject the LORD as Lord over our lives, searching and pleading for another ‘king’ to rule over us? We want to be like “all the others” even though the God of the Universe has called you unto Himself, chosen you for Himself, and declared that He would be YOUR King (Ezekiel 37:27). He would be YOUR Deliverer (Romans 11:26). He WOULD lead you in triumphal procession (2 Cor. 2:14). He WOULD love you with an everlasting satisfying love.
Sisters, when we forsake the Kingship of the Lord over our lives, we are allowing another to rule over us. It is not that there is a void on the throne of our hearts. Someone or something takes reign. Sometimes it is a relationship, sometimes it is a materialistic goal, sometimes it is the hope of a future job, move, or image. Sometimes it is even ourselves. Sadly, it often takes us too long to see the sin that results. In our rejecting His Kingship, we will set ourselves up for loosing our 'sons and daughters and the ‘best’ of our income and goods' to the false king. In allowing an idol to reign, we have become its servants. The thing we think we are in control of, or have by the reigns, likely has us in its grips if it is anything less than the complete freeing rule of Jesus Christ.
Sister, I love you too much to share only the ‘feel-good’ truth of His Word with you. If you feel that the reign of your Lord is constricting over your life, then tell Him. I assure you He can handle it. But if you could dare put any weight in these words of a sinner saved by grace, then I need you to know that His laws of perfect liberty really do set you free. His Kingship is of a perfect Kingdom that endures, that wins, and that goes before all things. For in Him, all things hold together. He is all that you could ever ask or imagine.
You are not supposed to be “like all the others.” You are called to be set apart (1 Peter 2:9). Choose Christ for yourselves dear one. “For the LORD will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the LORD has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.” (1 Samuel 12:22). I beg you not to miss the beauty and freedom of Christ as King over your life in exchange for another earthly king. He is pleased to make you His own. I believe wholeheartedly that He is pleased when you make Him your own. Beloved, go for it.PS - If you want to know what's been going on in my life lately, and ensure that I haven't fallen into permanent osmosis with my Greek textbook, go here :) I love you all!