Insistent Israel

1 Samuel 8:11-22

11He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.

18When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” 19But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” 21When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. 22The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”

Then Samuel said to the Israelites, “Everyone go back to your own town.”

Splitends!

There was a TV Advertisement of a particular shampoo that supposedly prevents ‘split ends’ on hair. A child was attracted to the beauty of swaying long hair with no split ends. Suddenly, the child told her parents who were watching with her, “I want splitends!” Her mother responded, ‘Split ends’ are not good for your hair!” But child cried louder, “I want splintends! Why can’t I have splitends?” Maybe, she thought that the shampoo was called “splitends.”

Children insist on things that attract them without knowing what may harm or benefit them. Likewise, many believers are inclined to follow their heart or human nature and may impede or delay their spiritual maturity.

It says in Jeremiah 17:9, 9The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

And in Proverbs 19:21, 21Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.

All the elders of Israel asked Samuel to appoint a king for them because his sons were dishonest leader. Samuel was upset. He may have sensed that they have secret plan, so he prayed, and the Lord told him to listen to them. Samuel warned them about a king’s rights, but they insisted on asking for a king.

1. Right

11He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 

Samuel made it very clear that the rights of kings didn’t favor them but they insisted on what they wanted—a king to rule over them. Why did the Israelites ignore his warning that kingship will be burden to them? Did they not consider that Samuel’s warning come from the Lord? Their desire to be like other nations, did it confuse them to discern the consequences when a king ruled over them?

To insist on what they wanted illustrates our insistence of what we think is best for us. Most often we want to be like the person next to us. Not a few are comfortable to be unique. It’s seldom to be thankful of our natural self.

It’s common knowledge that every person is created uniquely. Each one has strength as well as physical limitation or imperfection. Have you discovered that God created you uniquely with special talent different from others?

Kodi Lee

Who would like to be autistic? Who would desires to be blind? Yet, singer Kodi Lee was born autistic and blind. His parents could have tough times to accept that God is loving, fair and has plan for their son.  Did you know the winner of America Got Talent 2019? It’s Kodi Lee—the autistic and blind singer.

Did his physical flaws move the hearts of the audience to vote for him as rightful winner? Probably! His limitation to see things around him was certainly one factor for him to focus and perfected his talent in singing and playing piano.

If Kodi Lee is a Christian, he can easily understand Romans 8:28, 28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

Samuel did not argue when the Lord instructed him to listen to the people. He trusted the Lord’s plan.  Nonetheless, he warned that God won’t answer them when they cry for relief from burdens that the king would give them.

2. Relief

18When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” 19But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” 21When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. 22The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.” Then Samuel said to the Israelites, “Everyone go back to your own town.”

Have you watched a military parade. Do you appreciate it. They have nice, tidy uniforms. They march with dignity and grandeur. In contrast, terrorists don’t display or parade themselves. They may wear uniforms but not as nice, tidy and dignified for display or parade as compared to government military supplies.

The Israelites may not feel like underprivileged terrorist but in terms of military advancement, they may felt left behind with military trends. They wanted to be like other nations displaying their majestic kings and grand palaces. Perhaps, they also want to parade their army in uniform to scare enemies.

The Lord instructed Samuel to warn the Israelites of the burdens that a king may give them but the Israelites ignored him and insisted to grant their wish. The Lord told Samuel to grant the demand of the Israelites. Why?

The Lord told Samuel, “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.”

The Israelites rejected the Lord as their king. The Lord knew that it was far better for the Israelites to rely upon Him for their safety than to rely upon human king but he granted their demand to have king selected from their own relatives.

Did the Lord not mind when the Israelites rejected Him as their king? Why did God allow the Israelites to have a king from their own people? Did the Lord want to teach them that to allow their envy of other nations dictate their lifestyle was not a better choice than to have the Lord as their only ruler or king?

Can we apply Romans 8:28 here? 28In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 

When the Israelites ignored the warning of Samuel, was it because they ignored the Lord? They asked for a king because Samuel’s sons were dishonest. Actually, their main reason was because they were envious of other nations and wanted to display the majesty of their king, his army or his palace.

It warns in Proverbs 23:17,17Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.

Short-term Mission

When short-term missions were introduced, many seminarians joined. Some were called and others joined out of envy to go abroad. Those who were called had great experiences but others learned the hard way that it’s no joke to go to missions. Still others have found their lifetime partners while in mission.

It says in Ecclesiastes 4:4, 4All toils and all achievements spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

Envy in the ministry or missions could result to positive and negative experience. Interestingly, the Lord can intelligently use our passion including envy to lead us to the right path where He prepared for us to be situated.

Apostle Paul testified in Philippians 1:15-18, 15It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

Truly, some individuals join water baptism, others enroll in the seminary because of their friends did it. How about envy in sharing the gospel? God would allow anything essential to accomplish the purpose He has prepared for us to do.

It says in Ephesians 2:10, 10For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

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