Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 7:1-17, 1 Samuel 8:1-22, Proverbs 1:29-33, Hebrews 1:1-3
In 1 Samuel 8, we find Israel rejecting their God, the One who rescued them from slavery, provided for them in the desert, and gave them victory over their enemies.
Israel instead demanded a king who would judge them, go before them, and fight their battles (1 Samuel 8:20). Ironically, the King they rejected was the only king to fulfill this request. God had already been their Judge (Deuteronomy 32:36), gone out before them (Exodus 13:21), and fought their battles (Exodus 14:14).
But they wanted a king “the same as all the other nations” (1 Samuel 8:5). So they rejected their true King, the God of heaven and earth. God granted their request and gave them over to their desires, but not without a warning. He promised to give them a king like all the other nations. He would give them one who was selfish, oppressive, and ruthless. They didn’t heed His warning.
I want to be like everyone else, too. I want to look like everyone else, to be both beautiful and adorable, and so I make my appearance king. Then I find myself overcome by my obsessive eating habits and exercise routine. Turns out that king won’t provide what I need.
I want to have what everyone else has, to feel important and sophisticated, and so I make my possessions king. I spend my time, money, and energy, filling my closet with pretty new dresses. But I’ll never have enough because this king demands more and more and more.
I could go on, and I’m sure you could, too.
Our individual kings demand more from us than we’d ever be willing to give. They lie and tell us that if we could have what the world has, we would have freedom.
Second Peter 2:19 warns against this:
“They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.”
This is what happens when we, like Israel, fall prey to the desire of being like everyone else. Instead of gaining freedom, we become slaves of corruption. When we turn from the wisdom of the Lord and His ways, we “will eat the fruit of [our] way” (Proverbs 1:29-33). In our efforts to be like the world, we miss out on what we truly need: freedom that can only come from submitting ourselves to the true King, Jesus Christ.
But God is rich in mercy. He pursues us and draws us to Himself until we long for Him again (1 Samuel 7:2,6). He even works through our rebellion, just as He did with Israel, providing what is truly best for us. God would later appoint David as king over Israel, and through his family, provide the true King in Jesus Christ. He is the One who ultimately goes before us and fights our battles (Revelation 19:11-16). He is all we need, and only in submitting to Him as King will we find freedom instead of slavery (Luke 4:18).