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.