but I will instruct you in the good and right way. Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away.”
1 Samuel 12:23-25
It sounds like a broken record. Israel is falling away again. Surprise surprise! What is it this time? This time they want a king. They want to be like all the other nations around them (1 Sam. 8:19-20) Not satisfied with having the Lord of Creation as their leader and guide and protector. No they want to be like the other nations. Aaugh! After all He’s done for them, even rescuing them through the period of Judges time after time, they cap that all off and reject Him again this time for a King. And the gracious Lord says they can have their king. But He lists all of the pitfalls that will result, like curses. And their reply to these warnings? “No, but there shall be a king over us,” (1 Sam. 8:19)
Samuel’s life starts out very promising. As a lad, the Lord calls to him in the night and he thinks it is Eli calling. Three times this happens before they figure out that God is indeed calling Samuel. And Samuel follows that call becoming a great judge over Israel. But eventually the same evil that befell his mentor Eli, the problems of sons, none of them followed the teaching of the father, followed Samuel, his sons too were worthless. So Israel did not want these lazy louts as judges over them after Samuel’s death, which they must have thought immanent. Why is it great leaders of God can’t have enough influence on their sons so they follow accordingly in their footsteps?
Anyway, God picks out their first king for them. Again, a man with such great promise. Beautiful on the outside, Saul, God’s chosen, even becomes a changed man, filed with the Spirit, as he starts his his chosen profession. “God changed his heart;” (1 Sam. 10:9) which is what everyone should ultimately be asking for. Not a king, not for stuff, but for a changed heart. Wouldn’t that be fantastic? Too bad the nation of Israel wasn’t asking for that. They could have kicked the rest of the nations out of their territory instead of shriveling up and letting the pagans rule over them!
But they get their king. And Saul is confirmed into royalty with some great words from Samuel. Again a warning, just like Moses gave them before crossing the Jordan; but also a promise that he, Samuel, will never cease from praying for this wayward people. But that he “will instruct you in the good and right way. Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.” And that is what we should do daily, even moment by moment. “Consider what great things He has done for you.” Because, believe it or not, in dark times and in light, He continues to do marvelous things for us. If only we have eyes to see, and ears to hear, we wouldn’t keep asking for a king to make our lives go more smoothly and painlessly. We’d relish the guidance of the One who brought Israel out of Egypt with signs and wonders, and brought them into the Promised Land, and pushed stronger and larger nations out of their way. We should relish considering the things God has done for us. Which is why one writer tells us to keep our eyes on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), the beginning and the end of faith. So that we don’t loose heart and want to be like everyone else.
[Scriptures taken from the New American Standard Bible © 1995]