When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders.[a]2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. 4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[b] us, such as all the other nations have.” 6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” 1 Samuel 8.1-9
The people never learn. Even after Eli, and his sons, and the loss of inheritance of the Lord, you would think people would listen. Though they saw the Philistines and how God judged them for having the ark, the people did not learn. And when Samuel came on the screen, and the nation repented and God blessed them, they did not remember. Even with the Ebenezer set to remind them that God was their helper, they did not learn.
And now they were rejecting God as king. It wasn’t Samuel they were rejecting, although his sons were wicked, it was the Lord. They turned away from God and called for a king to lead them. Samuel knew this was not acceptable and so he brings the request to God. But the Lord said, “Listen to all that the people are saying to you, it is not you they have rejected but they have rejected me as their king.” Then God tells of how the people had forsaken him from when he delivered them from Egypt until this very day — “forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you,” said the lord. Give them a king, God says, “but warn them solemnly and let the know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”
This indeed was a dark day for Israel. The rejection of the Lord as king, wanting to be like other nations who have a king rule them, turning from God to human leadership. Samuel’s season was coming to an end, he was getting old, and his descendants had rejected the Lord as God. How often have we seen this repeat itself not only in Israel’s history but in the present as well?
Much can be learned from this passage. The rejection of God as Lord and King is not new. It’s a disastrous move that puts the whole nation at risk. Lives and souls are lost, favor with God disappears and the moral and ethical crumbling of a nation is at risk. I’m afraid we are seeing it happen all over again in our country today. It’s a lesson many have failed to learn but we can reverse the pattern by turning to God and turning from our sin.
Although the people rejected God, we don’t have to. We can follow the Lord and obey him. We can turn our families to the Lord, leading by example, and putting the Lord first in every aspect of our lives.
What is holding us back from making God our King? What is keeping us from serving him? Let us learn from the example in Scripture and obey the one who saved us from our sins.
“O Lord God, you are good. When my love fails, your love remains steadfast. Come now, Holy Spirit, and fill me with your love and power. Give me the desire to follow you, to kneel at your feet, and to call you my king. Bless my family and my children! Turn their hearts to follow your word. I love you Lord and praise for the example we find in your word. I praise you for being God of All and for loving us enough to send Jesus as a payment for our sins. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen