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We Have All We Need In God


19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”
(1 Samuel 8:19-22)


Yesterday we learned that Israel wanted a king to rule over them so they could be like all the other nations. They saw the kings that the nations around them had and likewise wanted a similar king for themselves.

They wanted a king to judge them (correct their mistakes and resolve their disputes) and who would go out before them and fight their battles. What they didn’t realize was they already had a leader who did those things in God Himself.

Beginning at the exodus, God had been leading Israel [Exodus 13:21]. After Israel was settled in the Promised Land, God appointed human judges such as Deborah, Gideon, and Samson. These judges would lead Israel in battles against their oppressive enemies such as the Moabites, Ammonites, and Amalekites among others [Judges 3:12-14, 4:1-3 et. al].

Furthermore, God Himself would often directly fight Israel’s battles for them. Shortly before Israel demanded a king, God miraculously defeated the Philistines [1 Samuel 7:10-11]. But apparently the people of Israel – and more astonishingly, their leaders – had forgotten all this.

Israel already had a king. They had the perfect king in God Himself. But they did not want God to lead them. They wanted a human being to lead them. Sounds just like today, doesn’t it?

In our modern world, people have rejected the notion of God and instead place their hopes and trust in human leaders be they government officials, business leaders, or entertainers. The sad part of all this is, just like ancient Israel, people are spurning the best for a much more inferior substitute.

This is, of course, nothing new. Israel rejected God in favor of a human king. Centuries later they would reject Jesus as their savior and king declaring that they had no king other than the human – and incredibly cruel – Caesar [John 19:15].

Rather than accept the benevolent leadership of God and His Son, the human race would rather be led by less-than-perfect, often-cruel, and certainly-flawed human leaders. The two major candidates in this year’s presidential election in the United States are prime examples.

The truth is we could not ask for anything more than God’s love, power, concern, and wisdom. In God we have all that we could possibly need [2 Peter 1:3]. With God there is nothing lacking. And He’s more than willing to give it all to us… if we want it [Psalm 16:5-9].

God will not force Himself on people. He gives us the ability and freedom to choose. We can accept Him or reject Him. Sadly, the vast majority of the human race has chosen to reject Him and does so more and more with the passage of time. As Jesus told us, only a very few of all the people who ever live will accept Him [Matthew 7:13-14].

One of the Old Testament names for God is Jehovah-Jireh – “the Lord who provides” or, more literally, “the Lord who will see to it”. God will see to it that all of our needs are met [Genesis 22:12-14].

God provides forgiveness. He provides healing. He redeems. He offers perfect wisdom. He protects [Psalm 23:1, 103:2-5; Psalm 91; James 1:5]. And so much more.

God provides all we could ever need [Philippians 4:19]. There’s no reason to look anywhere else.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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There Is Joy & Reward In Living A Unique Life


19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”
(1 Samuel 8:19-22)


The people of Israel wanted a king. So they approached Samuel and asked him to appoint a king over them [1 Samuel 8:4]. Samuel, being distraught over this request, took the matter to God who told Samuel to inform the people how their lives would change if they had a king [1 Samuel 8:5-18].

But the people refused to listen to this logic and continued to demand that there shall be a king over them. They did not care about the burdens that would be placed upon them. They didn’t care about the financial cost of having a king. All they wanted was to be like other nations.

God never wanted this for Israel. God wanted Israel to be unique among all the nations [Deuteronomy 7:6]. God’s intention was to make Israel a great nation so that they, in turn, would be a blessing to all the other nations [Genesis 12:2].

This was God’s plan to save the world. People would learn about Him through Israel because Israel would be unique. Israel would have unique customs and they would receive unique blessings (and punishments) from God.

This uniqueness would call attention to Israel and make other people curious. That curiosity would lead people to learn about God and their sinful nature, from which they could be forgiven through Jesus. God would use Israel to offer salvation from sin to the entire world.

At least that was the plan.

But Israel didn’t want to be unique. They compared other nations to themselves and thought those nations had it better than they did. Rather than being glad about the uniqueness God had blessed them with, they wanted to blend in.

And that would mean they would no longer stand out and could not be the conduit through which God reached the world (at least not to the original extent God intended).

The same is true to today of Christians. Now that we are living under the New Testament it is Christians who are to be the ones through whom the world learns about Jesus. And for Christians to be successful at this then they, like ancient Israel, must be unique. We must stand out.

But, sadly, like ancient Israel too many Christians don’t want to experience God’s unique blessings. They too want to be like the world around them. They want the big house with granite countertops. They want the corner office and huge salary. They want the BMW and vacations in Hawaii.

When Christians live like the rest of the world we give the impression that worldly things are as important – or maybe more important – than eternal things. But, of course, this is not true.

All Christians should live with their eyes and lives focused on eternity [Colossians 3:2]. The world lives as if what is on this earth is all there is. And that will lead to their destruction [Philippians 3:19]. Followers of Jesus are not to live like this.

We are not to gather worldly possessions or experiences. We are to forsake these in exchange for eternal treasures [Matthew 6:19-20]. We are to be the extreme of “light” in a world of “darkness” as we learned when we studied the Gospel of Matthew. If we do, the world will take notice and will come to know Jesus.

The problem is that if we do this, not only will the world take notice but they will often ridicule. And no one enjoys being made fun of. But the only way to bring about change is to be different. One who is like everyone else cannot lead others to a different place.

One who is like everyone else cannot lead others to a different place. Christians who want to be like the non-believing world around them will not lead anyone to heaven. They will only lead people to hell.

Rather we should live the unique lives God calls us to. Not only will this have an eternal effect on the lives of others, but it will be more enjoyable than living life as a clone.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God Provides All The Information We Need To Make Informed Choices


10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
(1 Samuel 8:10-18)


After explaining to the people in yesterday’s passage how the king they want will behave, God gives them a final warning today. He tells them that when all those happen they will be unhappy.

They will be so unhappy that they will cry out – they will ask God to fix the situation. But He will not. When they do cry out to Him He will not answer them.

This is not a matter of a spiteful God ignoring His people plight. This is a matter of a loving God teaching His people that decisions have consequences. The people had chosen for themselves to have a king. And it would be because of that king that they would be unhappy.

When that time came they would have to learn to deal with the situation and learn from it. God wasn’t going to accept any complaints from a fickle people who had gotten from Him exactly what they wanted.

God has warned them. He has told them, through Samuel, what it will be like to have a human king. It isn’t going to be all pomp and circumstance, as they think. It will require some great sacrifices on their part.

They hadn’t thought it through. They saw only the outward extravagance of foreign kings. They didn’t see all the work that went on behind the scenes and all the sacrifices the people of these foreign countries had to make to support a human government.

Up until now, with God leading them, Israel didn’t have to make such sacrifices. God has provided what they need when they needed it. He raised up judges at the appropriate time and fought against foreign armies on Israel’s behalf. With a permanent human ruler, things would be different.

If they continue with this decision after hearing what their future holds they will have no one to blame but themselves when that future becomes their reality.

God wants us to be knowledgeable and to make informed decisions. He doesn’t want us to whine to get the things we want only to complain when we get those things and they don’t turn out the way we thought they would.

Information creates responsibility. It also creates accountability. By not responding to the people’s certain future complaints about their king, God would be holding the people accountable for their actions. He’d be teaching them that if a similar situation should ever arise again – one in which they wanted something God did not want for them – they should pay more attention to His admonitions.

God is all about growing us. God did not create us to live passive lives in which He grants all our wishes and magically undoes the mess we make of our lives while we lie on the couch all day and take no responsibility. He allows us to control our own lives by making our own decisions.

Sometimes God will prevent us from having what we think we want. Other times He’ll let us have it, knowing it is not what we need so that we can learn. God uses all things for our good [Romans 8:28].

Israel had all the information they needed to make an informed choice. Yet, as we’ll see tomorrow, they will choose the thing they should not.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God Is A Giving Leader, Not A Demanding One


10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
(1 Samuel 8:10-18)


In today’s passage, Samuel relays all the words from God to the people about how the king they were asking for would act. It had always been God’s plan to appoint a king over Israel [Genesis 17:6, 16; 35:11]. But the people were impatient. They wanted a king before they were ready for one. And they wanted a king for the wrong reasons – to be like the nations around them.

God is going to let them have the king they wanted. He will be a man of their choosing, not God’s. And therefore, he will not be the kind of ruler God would have provided for them.

But in the process, God will teach the people a lesson about true leadership and, more importantly, about His leadership. So in today’s passage, God forwarned the people about how their king will behave, giving them a chance to change their minds.

Once Israel has the king they want, life will never be the same. Under God’s system of judges, there was no standing army to maintain or royal palace to support. There were no advisors to be paid or staff to be hired. The entire system was informal and inexpensive.

But a king requires support. He will need a standing army which in turn needs supplies. The men for the army and their supplies will have to come from the people. The king will conscript their sons into his army and their daughters will become his servants. The best of the people’s fields, vineyards, and orchards will have to be given to support the government.

The people will have to give up some of their male and female servants and animals to the king. They will have to give up a tenth of their flocks. Overall, the nation would have to make a big sacrifice to have a king that was like the kings of other nations.

Notice how many times God tells the people that their king will “take” but never once tells them that he will “give”.

Human leaders take. They don’t give. Outwardly they may appear to be working for the people’s best interests. But underlying their decisions is a need to secure their own current administration and future legacy.

Contrast that with God. God leads by giving. He gave His only Son so that those who believe in Him would have eternal life [John 3:16]. Jesus Himself did not come to be served but to serve [Matthew 20:28].

The people of Israel thought that having a big government would provide them with certain benefits. And it would. It would protect them from foreign invasion and it would provide a public display of power. But all that comes at a cost. In the end, the king would not serve them; they would be his slaves.

People today still think that our problems could be solved through human leadership rather than turning to the Lord [1 Samuel 8:7]. We think that a certain political candidate, if elected, will be the solution to our problems. But that never happens. Our problems don’t go away. They only multiply no matter who is in office.

God is the only answer to our problems. He is our king. He is not a taker but a giver.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God May Give Us What We Want To Show Us It’s Not What We Need


1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
(1 Samuel 8:1-9)


Over the past few days we’ve been studying a passage in which the people of Israel demand to have a king rule over them because the nations around them had kings.

Up until this point the people of Israel lived freely without any centralized form of human government. Occasionally God raised up judges like Deborah, Gideon, and Samuel to addressed issues the nation was facing. These judges would communicate with God to get the perfect solution to their problems.

In this way the government of Israel was a theocracy. Their laws and direction came directly from God, who see all and knows all and who gives perfect guidance.

But the people of Israel were not content with this form of government. They didn’t want human leaders who were humble and who didn’t call attention to themselves. They wanted a leader like the nations around them had: who lived in opulence and who lead armies and who was well-known.

God told Samuel to obey their voice. He did this not because their request was good or right but because God knew they would not change their minds. If they did not get the king they wanted they might start a rebellion against Samuel and that might destroy the nation.

So God grants their request, even though He knows it is not in their best interests, in order to show them that what they desire is not good for them. In fact, He tells Samuel to solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.

Notice that Samuel was to “solemnly” warn the people. God knew this was not a good idea. He knew that it would not end well for the people of Israel.

God knows the hearts of men. He knows how human rulers are. He knows it now. He knew it back in Samuel’s day. God knew that the king who was going to rule over Israel was not going to be the leader the people needed. Yet He acquiesced and gave them what they wanted.

Israel had been rejecting God for years [1 Samuel 8:8]. This request for a king was more of the same. God was their king. But they were not satisfied with that arrangement.

Similarly today, Jesus is to be the Lord of our lives. But many people don’t allow Him to be. Of course, those who are not Christians don’t have Jesus as their Lord. But many born-again Christians do not allow Jesus to be the Lord of their life either. They allow their careers or spouses or reputation or money rule over them.

God will not stop us from doing this. He will let us go down such a path for the same reason He let ancient Israel have a king: to let us learn for ourselves that such decisions are not in our best interest.

Ideally we would learn the best way to live through Scripture and prayer. But we don’t. Rather than learn the easy way we have to learn the hard way – by getting what we want and experiencing the consequences.

To that end, God will let us have what we want in order to show us it is not what we need. The path to that realization will be much tougher than if we just do things God’s way from the start as Israel will find out when they get their king.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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Don’t Take Rejection Personally


1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
(1 Samuel 8:1-9)


Samuel was not in a position to grant the elders’ request. This was a decision that only God could make. So Samuel took the matter to God in prayer, as we read yesterday. And God’s decision was for Samuel to obey the voice of the people. God decided to give Israel the king they wanted even though, as we’ll see, this was not what they needed.

But notice that it wasn’t just the elders who wanted a king. The elders were the ones who approached Samuel. But they apparently did so at the behest of the people they represented. This was a grass roots movement. It wasn’t just a few old men who wanted to get rid of Samuel. It was pretty much everyone.

Samuel was displeased with their request because he knew that the people were making a big mistake in requesting a king [1 Samuel 8:6]. Having been the leader of Israel for a few decades, he apparently thought that he had not done a good job of leading if, after all that time, the people were making such a sinful request.

But God consoles Samuel and lets him know that the people had not rejected him, but they had rejected God from being king over them. Samuel need not feel that he was a failure or had let God down. After all, this was nothing new. From the day God brought them up out of Egypt they had forsaken God.

When Moses was up on Mount Sinai longer than they expected, the people decided to make a golden calf and declare it their god [Exodus 32:1-6]. Shortly thereafter when they heard about the Canaanites in the Promised Land, they turned against Moses and Aaron and refused to go into the land [Numbers 14:1-4].

Despite all the good things God had done for Israel , they kept turning away from Him in favor of other gods [Numbers 14:11]. All the efforts of leaders like Moses and Samuel to lead the people to God were not always successful.

Even though the people did not want Samuel’s leadership, God told Samuel not to take it personally. Nor should we.

When Christians try to talk to others about Jesus we will often be rejected. When we try to set an example through out lifestyle we will often be ignored or even ridiculed. But we should not take such responses personally. For it is not us they are rejecting, ignoring, or ridiculing. It is God.

In fact, we should be glad and not discouraged or ashamed if we are insulted because of our faith [1 Peter 4:14,16]. Such afflictions are momentary and will result in eternal glory [2 Corinthians 4:17].

As long as we are doing and saying what God wants us to do and say we should not be discouraged when people don’t respond or, worse, respond harshly. For it is not our message that they are rejecting but God’s. For this reason it is very important that we do and say only those things that God wants us to do and say. And to do that we need to know our Bibles.

We need to know correct doctrine. We need to know the kind of life God wants us to live and then we must live it. We cannot have secret sins that will someday get exposed. We have to walk the talk. As long as we are doing that, we can have confidence that we are accurately representing God on this earth and that any rejection of us is really a rejection of Him [Psalm 69:9].

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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Some Decisions Are Out Of Our Jurisdiction


1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
(1 Samuel 8:1-9)


Yesterday we saw that Samuel was saddened when the elders came to him and asked him to appoint a king for them. He realized that they were making a big mistake – they weren’t satisfied with what God had provided for them. They instead wanted what the world had. That is never a good decision and Samuel knew it.

Samuel was the spiritual leader of Israel. Yet he was not qualified to grant the elders’ request. It was not for him to decide what type of leadership Israel should have. And he knew that. Faced with this grave situation, Samuel did the only thing he could.  He prayed to the Lord.

It’s interesting that we don’t read that the elders ever prayed about their request. As we’ve learned, this was a period in Israel’s history when people did not have a relationship God. They were doing whatever they wanted to do [Judges 21:25]. They did not seek God and His wisdom.

Many decisions we make in life are minor and have no spiritual consequences like what to eat for dinner or what color to paint our bedroom. But there are also times in life when we are confronted with a situation that does have spiritual consequences. In those cases, we don’t have the capacity to decide as we can’t see the future. Nor do we have the jurisdiction to decide. Such decisions belong to God and we need to seek His guidance on such matters.

This is where many of us go wrong. Of course those who don’t even believe in God never approach Him for direction for their lives. This is understandable. But many people who claim to be (and who likely are) part of God’s eternal family also rarely, if ever, seek His wisdom.

Instead we rely on our own understanding, which is certainly heavily influenced by the world’s values. Or we seek the advice of friends or famous people who know no more than we do, if that much. This is sad because God will grant wisdom to anyone who asks [Proverbs 2:6; James 1:5].

Knowing when to seek God’s wisdom is easy. If the decision we face has spiritual consequences, then we should leave the decision up to Him. Samuel could have decided for or against the elders’ request on his own. But he knew this decision was too big for him and that the spiritual health of the people was at stake. So he turned it over to God.

Also notice that if Samuel had made the decision on his own he would have been in trouble either way. If he had granted the elders’ request he would have become an accomplice to the problems that he knew were certain to ensue from having a human king. If, on the other hand, he would have opposed the request, he would be inviting accusations of being self-serving especially considering his previously ill-advised decision to grant his sons judgeships.

Some dilemmas we face in life are too big for us. Some decisions affect our own spiritual well-being or the spiritual well-being of others. In these cases, its best to turn them over to God as He knows the best way to handle the situation. And, as we’ll see tomorrow, His way is not always the obvious way.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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We Should Be Saddened When People Reject God


1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
(1 Samuel 8:1-9)


Over the past few days we’ve been studying a passage in which Israel’s elders (local magistrates) approach Samuel and asked him to appoint a king over them instead. They tried to give the impression that they were motivated by Samuel’s age and his son’s corrupt practices. But the truth is they wanted to be like other nations [1 Samuel 8:5]. They didn’t appreciate God’s plan for the leadership of Israel.

As we’ll see in tomorrow’s study, they are not simply seeking to fire Samuel as their judge. They are seeking to fire God as their king, whether they realized it or not.

Their request displeased Samuel. Notice that Samuel wasn’t upset when they called him “old”. Nor was he upset when they rejected his sons. He was upset when they said “Give us a king to judge us.” 

Samuel wasn’t concerned about what others thought of him. He was concerned about the hearts of those seeking this change in government. Their faith was not grounded in God who, up until this point, had been leading the nation.

Samuel saw the request of the elders for what it was: ungodly idolatry. Wanting to be like other people, especially those who are not part of God’s family is idolatry – it places those people above God. Rather than wanting to be like others, we should want to be like Jesus. This is God’s desire and plan for all His children [Romans 8:29].

I’m sure it didn’t help that Samuel had been leading these people for many years. He had taught them and had been their mediator with God. Yet after all his hard work, they still didn’t get it. They had no faith in God. They wanted to be like the world. And this saddened Samuel.

I’m sure many of us can relate. Perhaps we’ve been praying for a loved one to come to Christ. Or perhaps our own children are not walking with Him. Or maybe we’ve tried to be a light in our workplace – standing out by behaving differently than those around us – hoping that someone would notice and be interested in learning more about Jesus.

We make a lot of sacrifices and put in a lot of time into the lives of others. But sometimes they reject God, despite our efforts. That can certainly be demoralizing.

Jesus Himself became emotional when He looked over Jerusalem, knowing that the people of Israel would reject Him. He knew the ramifications of their decision. And it understandably distressed Him [Luke 19:41-44].

We must remember that all we, as God’s children, can do is plant seeds; we cannot force anyone to believe [1 Corinthians 3:6-8]. We cannot force anyone to put their faith in Jesus if they don’t want to.

Rather we must live in a way that brings God honor [1 Samuel 2:30]. In so doing, our lives will be a light to those around us, who are living in spiritual darkness [Matthew 5:16]. Most people will reject that light and will instead choose the ways of the world, which leads to hell [Matthew 7:13-14].

That should make us sad.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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God Calls His Children To Be Different From Everyone Else


1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
(1 Samuel 8:1-9)


Yesterday we saw the elders of Israel request that a king be appointed over the country. In so doing they were rejecting the governmental structure God had set up by raising up judges to lead the nation. They were also forgetting that they already had a king – God Himself.

When God delivered the Israelites from the bondage of slavery in Egypt and gives them His law He was establishing Himself as their ultimate leader; as their king. In fact, the Israelites recognize and admit this in their song of praise after they cross the Red Sea [Exodus 15:18].

The government of Israel had, until this point, been a true theocracy. God reigned from heaven through divinely chosen individuals, such as Moses, Joshua, and the judges (including Samuel) who spoke to the people on God’s behalf. The entire government and legal system of Israel was based on 4 words: “Thus says the Lord”. In this way Israel was unique among all the nations of the earth.

God”s intentionally designed Israel to be different from others nations, superior to them, and a lesson for them (Exodus 19:5-6). God purposed to bless all other nations through His theocratic reign over Israel

And that was the problem. Israel didn’t want to be unique. They wanted to be like all the nations.

Sadly, many Christians today also want to be like the world around them. They want the nice house with the green lawn. They want to drive the new car and have the latest technology gadgets. They look around and see that those who are not God’s children are having more “success” than they are. So they drift away from God and begin to live like the world around them.

This is not the proper strategy for living. God never calls us to achieve success as defined by the world. God’s definition of success is not measures in square feet or in dollar signs. God’s measure of success is based upon faithfulness [Matthew 25:23].

Instead of living as the world does we are to surrender our lives to God, determining His will through prayer. It is almost certain that the things God calls us to do will not be the things that the world is doing.

God will call us to give away our money to help others. The world tries to amass wealth. God will call us to live lives of sexual purity. The world considers such a lifestyle strange. God calls us to take care of the elderly, the homeless, and the poor. The world cares only about itself.

Like Israel in the Old Testament, Christians in the New Testament have one purpose in life: to draw others to Jesus. Our lives aren’t supposed to be about comfort or success or wealth. Our lives are supposed to be pointing other people to Jesus.

The way we do this is by living differently. When we live differently from the world – when we live like God calls us to live – the world will take notice.

The world is in darkness [John 3:19; Colossians 1:13;  Ephesians 6:12]. Followers of Jesus are to be light [Matthew 5:16; Ephesians 5:8]. Light is different than darkness; it is noticeable. In fact, the darker the darkness, the more noticeable light is:

Light Animation

Those of us who are children of God are not to conform to the ways of the world but are to transform our minds to think like God does for that is the only way to know and understand His will and to, therefore, live lives that shine as light to the world around us [Romans 12:2].

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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Sometimes We Have It Good But Don’t Realize It


1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
(1 Samuel 8:1-9)


In yesterday’s study we saw the elders of Israel confront Samuel about the immoral and illegal behavior of his sons, who Samuel had appointed to leadership positions. This was the right thing for them to do. But as is common in the Bible, people don’t always do the exact right thing and today’s passage is another example of that.

In addition to confronting Samuel about his sons, they tell Samuel that they think he is old and won’t be around much longer. So they ask him to appoint for them a king to judge them.

Samuel was old and his sons were corrupt. The elders were therefore concerned about the future leadership of Israel. Samuel was going to die soon (or so they thought) and they were afraid that his sons were going to inherit Samuel’s position as judge over the entire nation. But their thinking was flawed.

The elders seem to have forgotten that judgeships were not inherited. God raised up a judge of His own choosing at the appropriate time. There was no dynasty in place. Joel and Abijah should never have been made judges, as we learned. And it is certain that had they outlived their father, God would not have allowed them to continue in their current capacity as judges in Beersheba.

Notice that what the elders are proposing is worse than the situation they are trying to rectify. They wanted a king to rule over them. They wanted a monarchy in place of the current system of judges. But in a monarchy, a king or queen’s son or daughter takes over upon their death, no matter how good or evil or competent or incompetent that son or daughter is.

The elders wanted to replace a system in which God appointed qualified leaders, like Samuel, with a dynasty in which leadership would be inherited with no guarantee that the new leader would be any good. They wanted to replace a system that was not broken by one that was sure to be worse than what they had.

The system they had was working just fine, despite Samuel’s mistake of appointing his sons to judgeships and their corruption. As we’ll see as we continue our study, it wasn’t Joel and Abijah’s behavior that was driving the elders to make this request. They were just using it as an excuse.

Israel had it good. But they didn’t know it. They let a short-term and easily fixable problem direct their future. They didn’t think their request through to understand the ramifications. Moreover, they didn’t see the benefit of God’s way of doing things. Nor did they seek His advice – they approached the problem with only human thinking.

How often do we do this ourselves. Life has many problems. But sometimes we think they are bigger than they really are so we make drastic changes to address them when a simple change would do. And as a result, we take our life down a course that is much more difficult that it would have been had be not done so.

God has our best interests in mind. The best course of action is to do things His way.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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