1 & 2 Samuel: Day 4

Israel’s Demand for a King

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Today's Text: 1 Samuel 7:1-17, 1 Samuel 8:1-22, Proverbs 1:29-33, Hebrews 1:1-3

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).

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  • Kristen Clegs

    God’s allowance does not mean God’s approval: in Israel’s case, it just meant that God was no longer going to force Himself between His people and their own foolishness. Yet He so mercifully warned them before He permitted their demands, He remained so faithful to them throughout their rejection of Him, and He unconditionally loved them enough to judge their disobedience. We are just as prone to wander as Israel was, but we have something they didn’t: they had fallible human judges to warn them and guide them, but we have the very Holy Spirit in our hearts, coming alongside our weak faith and frail obedience, making us supernaturally competent to live lives of glowing Christlikeness in spite of our pagan culture.

    • Maria Zalesky

      Thanks for the great comment Kristen! I love this : “but we have something they didn’t: they had fallible human judges to warn them and guide them, but we have the very Holy Spirit in our hearts”

  • Jaimey Etten

    Definitely one of the more thought provoking daily readings. I can relate to wanting what everyone else has or wanting to follow the path that everyone else has done. I even beat myself up for different directions my life has taken, but it was on the random path that I was brought into a personal relationship with Christ.

  • 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.

  • This reading really hit home to me. I tend to believe my worth comes from the possessions I own or the friends I have. True worth and freedom and joy come from Christ, and while I know that truth in my head, I struggle to believe it in my heart sometimes. This is something I need to work on. I need to declare Christ as King of my life every day.

  • I am set apart. Oh Lord, please help me surrender to this notion. Please help me remember it daily. Please help me rejoice in it hourly. Please help me trust in your incredible plans. Please keep my spirit divinely flexible in a joyful way!

    SRT and the comments have been hitting it out the ballpark with this study! Love it!

  • What stuck out to me was Israel’s ignored warning. I am looking back on times in my life when God has whispered warning to me and I ignored it, digging myself into a situation of deeper pain than the one I was trying to escape. My prayer today is that I listen to and heed loving warnings from the only good King!

    • Jyndia

      Man! Isn’t that the truth! I had not thought of that, but sure does shed light on how similar we are to those of Israel

    • Leah

      Your words definitely hit home with me, good point!

  • I’m so glad to have discovered SRT!
    “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.” Sometimes I feel over run with too many “individual kings” demanding loyalty (aka: enslavement)! It’s only when I abdicate my throne and surrender to my One and True King, Jesus Christ, that I find real freedom and release.

  • “They have not rejected you; they have rejected me as their king.”

    It’s interesting because they make this request in a season of plenty with the Philistines subdued, peace with the Amorites, restored territories, etc. I understand that Samuel’s sons were corrupt but look at all the Lord had done and they still reject Him as their King.

    More. More. More. In our sinful human nature, we always want more. We are never satisfied when we pursue our idols. The Israelites were not satisfied with the victories and gifts from the Lord.

    It’s disheartening to read those words from God because I know he has said them about me. She has rejected me as her king. I have given her plenty and she still pursues more. This is sobering and convicting. I want to experience true freedom because I choose my Savior over the dissolving things of this world. May He reign as King in my heart!

  • Lately I have been overwhelmed by the amount of corruption in the world. In particular, regarding human trafficking and sexual abuse. I work with a nonprofit that helps girls in Africa receive an education, and I love the work we do.

    Part of my work is staying on top of world news related to girls and women. I am often sickened by the stories I read and what I hear. But despite all this sin in the world, and the sin in my own life, God reigns. God is still our KING, and He is in control. I needed to read this passage today and be reminded of His sovereignty. Because our God reigns there is hope, and our world will be eventually set right by Him. I am thankful I can turn to Him and find hope. I might not be able to solve the world’s problems, but I can make a difference where God has placed me, and that is something to be thankful for. ❤️

  • Amen. I just saw the movie Wonder Woman yesterday, and this devo kind of reminds me of it…there was this part in the movie where Wonder Woman was begging her friends to let her fight and save the people from the German fire. Up until this point, she had heard consistent “No”s from the men. But in that moment she chose to do what she thought and knew was right, instead of blending in with everyone else and ignoring the situation. Choosing Jesus is not the popular opinion. But with Him, our battles will be won, since we have freedom and strength in Christ. We can trust that what He says is right and true, despite the many voices that surround us telling us “No”. In surrending our lives to His will, it won’t matter what the world says, because we know that God’s plan is good. He will fight our battles. We will train our hearts and minds so that no matter what comes our way, we have the ultimate Fighter who will slay our giants. So awesome (and also definitely recommend you all see Wonder Woman, it was SO GOOD. I read a blog post on how it portrayed Biblical womanhood, and I think it definitely did…made me feel strong in the Lord, like I could take on anything! )

    • Christa

      I loved Wonder Woman too! I was so encouraged seeing a male and female working together as team and mutually supporting each other’s gifts in order to fight evil!

  • “They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption, since people are enslaved to whatever defeats them.” – 2 Peter 2:19

    Wow. What a powerful statement.

    Lately, I have been struggling with God- it’s been hard truly submitting my life to him and trusting in his goodness even when I see my dreams shatter and feel the pain of uncertainty. Today’s devotion was so beautifully focused- I realize now I’ve been placing other ‘kings’ ahead of my Gracious Father. Kings that have truly defeated me and have enslaved my spirited. But praise God- these chains can be broken by running back to the open arms of Jesus!

    I’ve been enslaved by fear.

    I’ve been enslaved by how people perceive me.

    I’ve been enslaved by doubt.

    I’ve been enslaved by selfish ambition.

    “But God is rich in mercy.” How sweet it is to lay it all out before him and honestly share with him my fears and failures. How comforting is it to know he hears my prayers and comes along beside me!

    Sisters, I don’t know what you struggle with this morning- if you have been defeated or enslaved or just feel forgotten. But the contrast to this verse in 2 Peter is the promise of freedom we find all throughout the New Testament (Galatians 5:13). This freedom is meant for US, and is the very essence of what we were created for. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”- ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

    If you feel stuck or captive to your sins, your addictions, your past or failures- write these verses down. It’s okay to pour out the ugly parts of yourself – the secrets you hold tight- to the very One who created you. There is freedom for you today!

  • Rebekah DeLibro

    Growing up I remember being annoyed with my Mom because she would say, “well I don’t want to be like everyone else, I want to be what God sets me apart to be” I was a head strong teen and these arguments usually were about something minor. Not about what I was leaving the house dressed in or boyfriends, make up etc. My parents were strict but not smothering. They gave me freedom to make choices and I wanted to please them and God and I knew it was the best thing so I was obedient. I remember her saying this because I would say “why don’t we have video games, VCRs, cable tv like everyone else?” She didn’t think they were evil or something like that, she just thought they complicated life and I didn’t agree then but oh how she was right. Look at all of us now, with all this technology. Yes too complicated sometimes and I know sometimes it has become my king and even as I type this and love this wonderful online study, I know I need to make more of an effort to be quiet and alone with God. Worship Him like a real King.

  • As a youth pastor’s wife, I kept thinking of our students in reading this. How often I feel like I am failing them because numbers are low, or some other number of reasons. Samuel probably felt a little like a failure in this moment, too. I believe God was trying to send comfort to Samuel when He said they were rejecting God, not Samuel. In that peace, is also a command to continue seeking God- not conforming to wanting to be like everyone else, but seeking after and teaching the ways of the Lord to bring others closer to Him.
    I also wondered how often I reject sound counsel because I get so stubborn in my ways. I pray to be like Samuel, seeking after God FIRST when I see something wrong, and listening to Him as well as the sound advice brought to me by my brothers and sisters.

    • Lana

      The tenderness of God comforting Samuel in this way is such a beautiful image. Thank you.

  • What is it with these children?! First Eli’s sons were bad and now Samuel’s sons. On top of that the respective fathers did not change them. I cannot believe the parents sat as complacent as it sounds. As a mother with adult children not always living with choices I would like I understand how this can play out. I also know to NEVER judge one’s parenting style unless you want to be judged for yours! How interesting that Eli’s children’s behavior resulted in Samuel’s position and then Samuel’s children’s behavior results in the one true King. God’s big picture plan!

    • Aimeejoy

      Sarah, I am not a parent, but I see in my parents the deep desire for their adult children to live as a child of God. In the case of Eli’s and Samuel’s sons, it looks like they did not want the identity of honor that was their inheritance. They sought control over their situation and used manipulation to get it. As a result, they did not experience the fruits of freedom that came with the status and duties of representing God’s glory. It is heartbreaking that they chose a limited identity as opposed to a full expression of who God has made his creation to be. However, we also see that Eli and Samuel were heartbroken too. Eli, for example did not debate the Lord about the consequences of the choices his Sons made. Instead he accepted the consequences himself, even when he did not deserve it. He knew his sons had messed up, but he trusted God’s big plan. Eli realized that it was not his own responsibility to rebuke his sons. The consequence comes automatically, and that consequence is separation from the Heavenly Father and frustration from not living as God designed for his people. Eli realized that his sons were the Lord’s from the beginning, and God was working his plan. Eli could not choose God for his sons. His sons had to take that responsibility to chose God. I am inspired with you as well that God worked the rebellion of Eli and Samuel’s sons as a part of His big plan! I hope looking at Eli and his sons with this perspective allows for some peace as a parent.

  • This is so true! Comparison is truly the killer of joy and peace. SO much effort is put into trying to be and look like others that we lose ourselves in the process. Those things (physical appearance, academics, personality, etc.), they all become kings in our life. So much so, that we don’t leave room for THE KING. The one and only Savior who loves us just the way we are and has already won and IS victorious now and forever. Thank you Jesus for being the one true King. Thank you loving me despite me sinnin against you. Amen!

  • When I was reading the requirements placed on the people for having a King besides the Lord, one thing kept coming to my heart: Consider the cost of what rules over you! So many things become “wicked Kings” to our hearts where they reign supreme. They all have a heavy price, there’s little freedom found in them and they too have the ability to take whatever they want from our lives. Choosing JESUS today!

  • Beautiful devotional today!!! Thank you:)

  • I am enough because He is enough!

  • A wonderful message I struggled with for years. I constantly wanted to change who I was because I just wanted to be liked by other people. I tried to focus on changing my personality, my style and basically losing myself along the way thinking I would find freedom in other people’s acceptance… and ending up empty handed feeling vacant and depressed. Nothing I did felt good enough and it just seemed like everyone demanded more. My self worth was completely gone. And then God stepped in to my life. He began to show me what exactly He “demanded” of me. It wasn’t to change who I was. It wasn’t to become someone I’m not. He demanded I love me for me just as He has and always will. To allow Him to steer my life and change it forever. I found freedom in the Lords acceptance of who He created. He showed me mercy but He gave me the most important thing I desperately needed. The reminder that I am enough… and that He is enough to fill any gaping hole that the world and its people have left behind in me. He is enough and that’s why I will forever be as well. Thank you God ❤️❤️❤️

    • Nancy

      Katalina, I love this! See so much of myself in what you have written. Thanks for putting into words.

    • StacyLou

      Katalina, Yes! I can relate to what you have written here. I have felt God remind me that he doesn’t need another “her”, He needs me as He made me. Living the calling He has for my life. I tell my kids all the time that God made them on purpose with their own personality, sets of interests and even senses of humor. And yet, I sometimes forget that these truths also apply to me!

  • Yes Jesus! Thank you that true freedom comes from you!

    http://Www.in-due-time.com

  • Brittany Blackshire

    I want to make sure I’m reading correctly and gaining understanding. In 1 Samuel 7, Samuel was their judge, right? He has a connection with God and went to God on Israel’s behalf, right? But in 1 Samuel 8, Samuel sons took over as judge, and that’s when they wanted a new king because his sons didn’t follow in the way of Samuel. So does that mean they missed the connection that Samuel had with God and missed God working through Samuel on their behalf?

    • Rachel

      That sounds like a fair interpretation. You may have to look into some more in depth studies on that. I think the point is that they started looking to what other countries had (a King) and wanted that instead, not trusting what God had given them (even if they weren’t doing a great job).

    • Karen From Virginia

      I think that’s true. Samuel was honorable and God’s mouthpiece. His sons were crooked. So I think Israel the problem as a time to complain about being like everyone else. They weren’t asking for a godly prophet to walk by faith. They wanted a king to boast in.

  • This is such a great message and one I really needed this am. “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.” THIS. AMEN. I want this printed out at my desk. This couldn’t come at a better time. I am struggling with my marriage as we have both put our hope/joy in eachother and not our true God so when we fight we are really destroyed however we need to refocus our love and joy on Christ. If you could pray for us that would be amazing..as my husband said last night he believes all these things but how will it get better…JESUS that is how. So please pray we keep Christ first in our lives, pursue him and not allow things of this world to come first( job etc).

    • Kirsten

      I can relate to your situation. Prayers for you this morning!

    • Erin

      Praying for you this morning, Courtney! 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 popped in my head when I read your comments. Read and be encouraged. You’re right, Jesus is how things get better and even more you will be able to offer others the comfort that Jesus offered you!

      • Courtney

        Thank you so much for your prayers and the bible verse you shared, it does indeed leave me encouraged. xo

    • Laura

      Praying for you!

    • Lynne

      Courtney, I am praying for you and your husband. May you put God first!

    • Marie

      I also loved that same message! I copied it down in my study book. Praying for your during this time Courtney.

  • Kelly R Smith

    During my prayer time this morning, I told God I couldn’t fathom a scenario in which perfect balance could exist. I’m tossing around the idea of going back to work full time and all the factors that go with that decision. While going back brings some financial margin, it removes the time margin I have. My finite mind cannot produce a solution.

    I don’t make a good king of my own life. I can make a plan and pursue it, but it will be imperfect and wrought with chaos (Prov. 1:29-33). BUT if I submit to God as King, He goes before me. He works out a plan and provides a way. So, instead of plotting out a plan, I’m spending time in worship. I’m lifting up the one true King and allowing Him to reign!

    • Laura

      It is so easy for me to want to plan it all out in my mind too! And God usually ends up having me do something completely different, that turns out to be better than anything I would have planned. One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 19:21–“Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand.” I find that something to rest in!

    • amylou

      Thank you Kelly for sharing! I am anxious about two similar situations, where I don’t see a solution and am really having trouble trusting God to make a way in both of them. I really needed to see someone else’s struggle with this, too, and your wisdom in letting go. Thank you!

    • Emily B.

      I love your example–we all fail trying to rule our own lives. Submitting to God as King of everything will make the path clear, even if we don’t always see it. Thanks for sharing today!

  • churchmouse

    Eli the priest failed to discipline his sons. Now we see Samuel’s sons, appointed by him, as corrupt judges, failing to follow in his footsteps. So all the elders gather and decide the solution to these corrupt judges is to have Samuel appoint a king . But God warns that an earthly king would be no better and indeed would be worse. Samuel foretells their future under a king – it isn’t pretty. But the people insist on having their own way. And so they get what they want. And they also get the future as Samuel described. They had freedom and favor with the one true God and traded it for bondage and misery. Oh that I would learn to be careful what I ask for and oh that I would want nothing but the one true God. Help me to daily keep my eyes and my desire only for You. Amen.

  • Wanting to be like everyone else, thinking my want for needs ca be satisfied by what the world has to over is wrong. We all fall for it. The devil makes it look so good and tempting. Only the One and true King can provide for what I need. HE IS THE ONE WHO CREATED ME!!!!

  • This was encouraging to me as I have been sick and house bound for almost six months.. I sometimes fight the temptation to envy every one else’s summer that i see on Facebook, I envy those who are making amazing memories with their kids while I am stuck on the couch.. This is a good reminder, my God has a different plan for me. He is good. The king of being like everyone else isn’t going to bring me closer to my Heavenly King and there isn’t anything better than Him. So By His grace can rejoice at where I am right now and by His grace be content.

  • PursuedByHim

    I see now God wasn’t giving in to them by granting them a king. He was preparing for King Jesus, and his precious grace! They were an obstinate people…so am I, even though I don’t want to be.

    Thank you, Father, for always preparing a way for us to You!

  • This devotion made me think of 1 Peter 2: 9-10. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
    We are His very own; He’s chosen us to be His beloved possessions. He has set us apart as a beautiful reflection of Himself. We are His joy.
    I read these words and wonder, “why in the world would I want anything more than this?”
    Papa God, keep me close to you. Help me to love your marvelous light more than the darkness You have called me out of.
    Be blessed, sisters!

  • Those supplementary readings were PERFECT for the Samuel readings! Overall great devotional, thank you Missy!

  • In Deuteronomy 14:2, Moses has told the people, “Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.” And yet they want to be like everyone else!
    I also find it easy to look around me and want to be like everyone else, to live up to the world’s standards. I need this reminder that as Christians we are called to something far greater- that we are chosen and set apart for God and called to live lives of true freedom that reflect him to the world around us.

    • Momandorder

      I struggle more with trying to live up to Christian standards. Instead of comparing my life to the world’s I compare to Christians who seem to “have it all together”. My three ring circus does NOT look as calm and obedient as theirs. Lol. Comparison is truly the theft of joy..sigh..

      • Marie

        I can totally relate to this! I always feel like I need to be doing everything perfectly before I can be the “Christian I want to be”.

      • aprilinsydney

        Take heart, momandorder. Nobody has it all together, despite appearances. x

  • No amount of clothes or money will make you happy my sisters. Only His love will truly leave you content. Being like everyone else isn’t always the best in the long run! Thank you Lord for enriching my life with your grace!

    • PursuedByHim

      Yes, Alison! “Thank you, Lord, for enriching my life with your Grace!” Amen!

    • Karen From Virginia

      Amen. Satisfied in Jesus is the only way to truly a fulfilling life. It’s a fight to not allow others or stuff get in the way. Long time ago I had a button – So many idols One true God.

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