But the people refused to hearken unto the voice of Samuel; and they said, “Nay: but we will have a king over us, 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” (1 Samuel 8:19-20).
Everyone would admit that the period of the Judges was difficult. For three hundred years or so Israel participated in a vicious cycle of idolatry, oppression, deliverance, and a fall back into idolatry.
But things were not getting better. The Philistines were stronger oppressors than previous adversaries. While Eli and Samuel were competent judges, their sons did not follow in their footsteps.
What Israel sought seemed logical. The judge system was not getting them anywhere fast. Perhaps if they had a centralized authority and administration, they could finally defeat their enemies and have peace.
Yet Israel was distinctive because of all the nations in the world, they had the LORD of Hosts as their King. By repudiating the system of government which He set up, Israel was really repudiating Him.
Israel would not be persuaded otherwise. They were not thinking in the long-term, how that centralized authority would virtually enslave them with taxes and levies, and how that centralized authority would end up leading all Israel into some type of captivity. They wanted a king– and they wanted him now. Just like all the nations.
As Christians, we are to be a “different” type of people. We are not to conform to the world, but to be conformed into the image of Jesus the Son (Romans 12:1; 8:29). We stand as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven (Philippians 3:20), serving Christ the Lord and King.
There is always the temptation, however, to want to be like the nations around us and lose our distinctive nature in order to do what seems to us to be better. In such a condition, as opposed to obtaining our “inspiration” from God, we get our “inspiration” from those around us in the world. It may seem logical, and we can come up with all the reasons we want to justify it, but it is the same in the end.
When we seek a “king” so that we can be like “all the nations,” we repudiate the rule of Christ the Lord. Let us always look to Him for our direction!
If then ye were raised together with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated on the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are upon the earth (Colossians 3:1-2).
Ethan R. Longhenry