Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 11:1-15, 1 Samuel 12:1-25, Isaiah 5:8-12, Micah 6:1-5
I still vividly recall my third year of law school, when graduation neared and I had no offer of employment. The plan had been to work at a Washington, D.C., law firm during the second summer and, by the end of my time there, secure a permanent offer to return upon graduation. But the firm suffered a financial downturn and could extend only two offers. (Another firm I’d turned down extended more than twenty.) Stressed out and covered in hives, I was sure I’d be forever unemployed.
Please, let me get this position. My heart uttered those words with every resume sent, every interview secured. Still, the rejections piled up. Then, one week before graduation, my resume found its way to the desk of a federal judge in Madison, Wisconsin. She conducted a phone interview, flew me out for a face-to-face, and offered a clerkship on the spot. It was one of the best jobs I could’ve gotten. And oh, how I celebrated, calling it as a blessing.
A month later, my fiancé and I ventured to Madison to begin our careers. We rented an apartment and moved in together. I didn’t know the Lord at the time. I wanted His blessings, but I didn’t want Him as Lord and King over my life.
Such was the state of affairs in Israel during the latter part of Samuel’s time as judge. The people asked for a king to reign over them “like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:5), thus rejecting God as King. They got what they asked for. God chose Saul to be their king, and, empowered by His Spirit, Saul led the people to a great victory against the Ammonites. And oh, how they celebrated. They had their king! They had victory over the enemy!
With such immense blessings, they surely felt all was well. Don’t we tend to think the same? When we’re being blessed—especially if we’ve received the very thing we asked for—we don’t see “warning” flags. To the contrary, we feel good about ourselves and our situation, perhaps even about our relationship with God. After all, we must be doing something right in order for God to bless us, right?
But blessings have more to do with God than with us. They reflect His amazing grace and His long-suffering character. They flow from His lovingkindness and goodness. “For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45).
In the midst of great blessing, our hearts can still be far from God. And apart from Him, blessings are merely temporal and empty.
God was gracious in pointing this out to the people of Israel. Through the prophet Samuel, He interrupted their revelry to remind them that they had rejected Him and to point to where true prosperity lay.
“If you fear the Lord, worship and obey him, and if you don’t rebel against the Lord’s command, then both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God.”
- 1 Samuel 12:14
Madison ended up being the place where I met the Lord, where He drew me to Himself and saved me. That was the true blessing—the greatest blessing. Now, when I think of that time, I’m reminded that no matter what is happening outwardly in our lives, whether hardships or joy, the true measure of our well-being is in the posture of our hearts before God. The ultimate blessing is in following Him and allowing Him to reign as King over our lives.
Kim Cash Tate is the author of several books, including Though I Stumble (2016) and Cling: Choosing a Lifestyle of Intimacy with God (2017). A former practicing attorney, she has a passion for studying and teaching the Word of God. Kim lives in St. Louis with her husband and their two young adult children.