Listen to People

1 Samuel 8:7-10

7And 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. 8As 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.

9Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” 10Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king.

Introduction

You may have heard the argument, “If God is love why did He allow sin?”

God is not worried of anything. That’s for sure! He created human to share His grace with mankind and not to add for His pleasure. God’s satisfied eternally. No one can add to His contentment. He just wants us to experience His love.

And, it’s by faith we believe that God loves us despite of our sinful nature. His love for us does not prevent Him from punishing sin. He is just and punishes sinfulness. He punishes unrepentant sinners.  He forgives repentant sinners. It’s reality but unrepentant sinner can’t easily accept. By His grace, we can accept it.

Sin can be incidental rejection of God. When the Israelites asked for king, the Lord told Samuel to listen to them. Why? They’ve rejected Him as their king.

1. Rejection

7And 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. 8As 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.

Samuel appointed his sons as leaders of Israel but all the elders of Israel ask Samuel for a king because his sons were dishonest. They accepted bribes.

Samuel was not pleased when his sons were rejected. Rejection is not pleasant.

Nevertheless, Samuel prayed and the Lord instructed him to give what the Israelites wanted. The Lord explained that the Israelites didn’t reject him. Instead, they rejected the Lord as their king when they ask Samuel to appoint a king for them. They wanted to be like other nations. The Lord was not surprised by it.

That event has been prophesied by Moses even before they entered Canaan. He said in Deuteronomy 17:14, 14When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us.”

Moses knew that the Israelites wanted to imitate other nations. From the time the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt, they may have entertained the idea of having their own king, just like other nations. They wanted to have a king. It’s only at the time of Samuel that the Lord allowed them to have a king. Why?

When they entered Canaan, God raised leaders to save them from enemy attacks. When Samuel was the leader of Israel, no other nations had the courage to attack Israel. They’ve got peace but they became conceited, arrogant and assumed that they can be more powerful if they have a king to lead them.

Church Membership

Have you ever heard people say, “I don’t want to be a church member!”

What caused them to avoid church membership? They conclude that local churches have abusive authorities. Others are bothered by hypocrites. Someone said that if hypocrites stand between you and God, you admit that hypocrites are closer to God than you are. Still others feel great to attend a church they choose.

Indeed, the church isn’t perfect. A local church is an assembly of believers who are not perfect, just yet. Although we are assured of perfection when the Lord returns and gives us glorified perfect body, we are encouraged to grow in our spirituality. It says in Philippians 2:12-13, 12Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

It also says in Philippians 1:6, 6He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Those who reject and despise church membership reject and despise the Body of Christ. They just want to be the master of their soul. They want to dictate what they should do with their lives. Certainly, God does not appreciate such?

Similarly, when the Israelites asked for a king, it was their decision. They want to have a king from among them. Their idea was right in their own opinion.

2. Right

9Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” 10Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 

They rejected the sons of Samuel as leaders. Why not? His sons did not follow his ways. They were dishonest. When your idea is rejected, like Samuel, pray. The Lord encouraged Samuel to listen to the Israelites and do what they were asking him because it’s not him they rejected. Indirectly, they rejected God.

How’s that? The Lord chose Samuel as leader, and Samuel appointed his sons. The Israelites rejected his sons. The Israelites were not aware that they incidentally rejected the Lord who chose Samuel who appointed his sons. The Israelites could have held Samuel accountable for the dishonesty of his son but they chose to follow their idea to have a king like other nations around them.

How do we personally apply in our life Romans 13:1-2? 1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

God did not command us to obey only those who are good leaders.

He gave no qualification for leaders that we should obey or be subjected to. God chooses good or bad leader who’s useful to accomplish His purposes.

King Saul, the first king of Israel was disobedient. He had partially obeyed the Lord’s instruction. Partial obedience is still disobedience. Disobedience can’t be better than dishonesty of Samuel’s sons. Yet the Lord chose Saul as first king.

When King Saul tried to kill David, David did not revolt. He respected King Saul.

Why? David explained it clearly in 1 Samuel 24:6, 6David said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s  anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the Lord.”

While it may be acceptable in many cultures to resist a government they do not agree with, make unpleasant comments against oppressive employers, gossip on church leaders, resist parents or oppose school authorities, we respect authorities for Christ’s sake. The Lord will hold us accountable for our behaviors.

Confucian Bible?

Have you heard of a Confucian Bible, yet? Someone considered “The Analects Encounter the Bible” as “Confucian Bible.” Accordingly, it blends biblical teachings with the teachings of Confucius to “sinicize” Christianity or to produce a Chinese version of Christians. And, Chinese government officials order clergies affiliated with the state-sanctioned protestant church to preach from it.

It has similarity to folk religions that mixed cultural practices with Christian beliefs. It’s a slow process to immerse people into Christianity and not to abruptly alienate them from their culture and traditions. How about this?

To be late in their appointment is acceptable to some cultures. Others consider lateness as disrespect. To be late practically proves our imperfection.

Anyway, how could you submit to authorities who dictate what you preach?

Do you have any courage to say, “I would rather obey God than men!?!”

May God add church members who would rather obey God than men!

It says in 1 Peter 2:13-17, 13Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. 16Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. 17Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.

It is for the sake of the Lord that we respect authorities. We don’t force it. We cannot respect authorities with all of our heart by human effort alone. We have to submit to Christ to inspire us to submit to authorities.

Rejection or resistance to authorities is ordinary sinful nature of mankind.

But when God told Samuel, “Listen to all that the people are saying to you,” it was not because they rejected Samuel but they rejected God.

Don’t reject God! Listen to God first and foremost before others.

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