Monday, July 29, 2019

A King for Israel

"And the LORD told him [Samuel]: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected as their king, but they have rejected Me as their king” (1 Samuel 8:7).

After the victory over Philistia at Mizpah, Samuel judged Israel for a number of years. Eventually Nahash, king of Ammon, began to move against Israel. The people used this occasion to demand a human king (1 Samuel 12:12). They used as their excuse the fact that Samuel’s sons, who judged at Beersheba, were taking bribes (1 Samuel 8:1–5). This was only a pretext because Beersheba was far out on the fringes of the nation, and all that was needed was for the two men to be deposed as judges. There was no need for a king.

God had told them through Moses that eventually He would give them a king—when He was ready (Deuteronomy 17:14–15). Until that time they were to regard Yahweh as their king. Gideon had rejected the crown offered him, saying, “Yahweh will rule over you” (Judges 8:23). Gideon’s son Abimelech took the crown for a short time, becoming Israel’s first king (in name a least), but after three years his kingdom was demolished (Judges 9). The last five chapters of Judges show that anarchy reigned in Israel, “when there was no king,” meaning when the people refused to honor Yahweh’s kingship.

Then, rejecting Yahweh, they demanded a human king. God told Samuel to give them one, but to warn them that because they had not properly honored Yahweh as High King, their national king would be no more righteous than they had been (1 Samuel 8:9–18). First, the king would draft their sons into his army, an army whose function was not only national defense but also personal service to the king. The “army” would be a corps of slaves.

Second, the king would take their daughters to be “bakers.” Third, the king would use his military power to steal the best of their land to give it to his favorite bureaucrats. Fourth, the king would take a tithe of their grain and wine. This was a pregnant prophecy, for it meant that the king would put himself in the place of God, receiving the tithe. Finally, the king would reduce the nation to slavery, and the people would find themselves in a new Egypt, one of their own choosing. On that day they would cry out to Yahweh, the true High King. But He would not hear them.

God’s plan requires God’s timing. Israel was not ready for a king. Perhaps there are similar circumstances in your life. Spend time today considering where your plan might be in conflict with God’s: job advancement, marriage, prosperity, etc. If necessary, seek God’s Spirit to slow down your personal agenda.