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Give Us A King (2)

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Be Careful What You Wish For

How many of you have ever heard the saying “Be careful what you wish for.” How many of you have ever said, “Be careful what you wish for.” And How many of you have ever gotten something you wished or hoped for, only to find out it wasn’t all you thought it would be? “If only I had this thing, If only I had this car, If only my house had this much square footage, If only this problems were different, then I could be happy, I could be comfortable, I could have what I need. Now clearly this is not a good way to approach life. It leaves us constantly wanting and looking for fulfillment in places that we can never actually find it, and yet we all fall prey to this way of thinking at one time or another. And sometimes those things that we think we need to solve one problem or another come with trade-offs that can be worse than the problems we thought we were solving.
When I was in high school, I wanted a truck- the bigger the better. My first car was a small volkswagen rabbit and I followed that with a volkswagen fox, but I wanted something so big those would have fit in the back. Finally, just before my senior year, I got a Ford F-250- that would have been the summer of 2004. Shortly thereafter, Lindsey and I started dating and I would drive as often as possible from Graham to Tyler to see her- roughly the same as driving from here to Tulsa. That was also the time that gas rapidly climbed from just under $2 to nearly $4 per gallon. That truck that I had desperately wanted, the truck that was exactly what I wanted, was now the reason that driving back and forth to see Lindsey cost me nearly $125 per trip. If only I still had that volkswagen rabbit. It may have gotten me made fun of, and it may have belched black smoke every time I started it, and the upperclassmen football players may have had fun picking it up and setting it in random places on campus, but it could pull 50-60mpg and would have saved me more than a thousand dollars that year, not an insignificant amount of money to anyone, and certainly not to a high schooler. Be careful what you wish for.
One of the things that is interesting that I believe the writers and compilers of the Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, intentionally highlight throughout the text is the ways in which the people of God repeatedly have the same experiences over and over again. And when the same experiences are repeated, the differences are highlighted. So when we find ourselves in Chapter 8 in the text this morning, we have one of those repeated cycles. When the book of 1 Samuel opens, Eli is the prophet and leader of the people. But his sons aren’t what he is. They cheat the people, ignore God’s regulations for sacrifice and worship, the harrass people who come to worship and sacrifice, and they line their pockets with the offerings of the people. We sometimes forget that the story of Samuel’s call, the one where he answers “Your servant is listening,” is a call to service at the expense of Eli’s family. Eli and his children all die. And while we would like to think that Samuel would learn from his predecessor’s mistakes, that he would either raise his children differently, or be wise enough not to elevate them to judges if they didn’t follow the ways of God, what we see here is Samuel repeating the cycle of Eli.

Now when Samuel got old, he appointed his sons to serve as Israel’s judges. 2 The name of his oldest son was Joel; the name of the second was Abijah. They served as judges in Beer-sheba. 3 But Samuel’s sons didn’t follow in his footsteps. They tried to turn a profit, they accepted bribes, and they perverted justice.

Common English Bible (Nashville, TN: Common English Bible, 2011), .
They do the same thing. The ones who should know best, the ones who should be leading the people in the right direction are the ones who are failing them. And the people have seen this before. Their patience is for the spiritual leaders to the be the spiritual leaders is gone, and instead of either finding another spiritual leader outside Samuel’s family, they’re done with this prophet-leader system entirely. It has been their mode of operation since the time of Moses and in the eyes of the people, it is a failed experiment. Look at vs 4.

4 So all the Israelite elders got together and went to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “Listen. You are old now, and your sons don’t follow in your footsteps. So appoint us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” 6 It seemed very bad to Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us,” so he prayed to the LORD.

7 The LORD answered Samuel, “Comply with the people’s request—everything they ask of you—because they haven’t rejected you. No, they’ve rejected me as king over them. 8 They are doing to you only what they’ve been doing to me from the day I brought them out of Egypt to this very minute, abandoning me and worshipping other gods. 9 So comply with their request, but give them a clear warning, telling them how the king will rule over them.”

I want to point out something here that had never really dawned on me before. When God tells Samuel that their rejection isn’t of Samuel but instead a rejection of God, we need to notice that the people don’t see it that way. They instead start down this path because they are rejecting poor spiritual leadership from Samuel’s sons, the new judges. And on the surface, it’s easy to understand their frustration- their leaders take bribes, distort justice, they don’t follow God. Getting rid of them is a much better idea than following them. And their rejection of Samuel or samuel’s line isn’t the problem- instead it is their rejection of God in asking for a King. Instead of a prophet and judge to guide them in the way of God, they want a king to guide them in the way of the nations. And what you’d like to assume is that Samuel well tell them the consequences, tell them that this is not what God has for them, and they’ll realize that they’re out of line and they’ll step back and ask God for a solution. Because they haven’t asked God for a king. They asked Samuel. They told Samuel to give them a King. Samuel is the one who asked God about the whole thing. The leaders of Israel are so focused on what they want, they only think they’re pushing Samuel out of way. They don’t realize they’re pushing God to the side. So Samuel speaks God’s wisdom to the people.

10 Then Samuel explained everything the LORD had said to the people who were asking for a king. 11 “This is how the king will rule over you,” Samuel said:

“He will take your sons, and will use them for his chariots and his cavalry and as runners for his chariot. 12 He will use them as his commanders of troops of one thousand and troops of fifty, or to do his plowing and his harvesting, or to make his weapons or parts for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, or bakers. 14 He will take your best fields, vineyards, and olive groves and give them to his servants. 15 He will give one-tenth of your grain and your vineyards to his officials and servants. 16 He will take your male and female servants, along with the best of your cattle and donkeys, and make them do his work. 17 He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and then you yourselves will become his slaves! 18 When that day comes, you will cry out because of the king you chose for yourselves, but on that day the LORD won’t answer you.”

19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel and said, “No! There must be a king over us 20 so we can be like all the other nations. Our king will judge us and lead us and fight our battles.”

21 Samuel listened to everything the people said and repeated it directly to the LORD. 22 Then the LORD said to Samuel, “Comply with their request. Give them a king.”

Samuel then told the Israelite people, “Go back, each of you, to your own hometown.”

So Israel gets what they wished for. They get what they wanted. They get to be just like all the other nations. And we know how that turns out. Hundreds of years of Kings who take from them, mislead them, haul them away from God. They get oppressed by their own Kings and then taken into captivity.
19 But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, “No! but we are determined to have a king over us, 20 so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 When Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice and set a king over them.” Samuel then said to the people of Israel, “Each of you return home.”
I don’t know about you but I sit back and read this story and I wonder, “What on earth were they thinking?!?” They chose an earthly king over God? Why would you do that? I’d never do that. There’s no way I would ever, ever....oh, right.
Because I’m guilty of doing the exact same thing! You’re guilty of doing the exact same thing! We’re guilty of the exact same thing. Its not like the first commandment has somehow disappeared, that there are no longer any other ‘gods’ around to distract us. Sure, I’ve not been tempted to burn a steak on an alter a the feet of statue, but I’ve sacrificed plenty of money and time and effort in pursuit of things that are not what God has for me, how about you? Because its so much easier, and still quite enticing to blend in and be like the other nations, be like our culture would tell me I’m supposed to be, absorbed and selfish, holding on to my stuff for the glory of me.
And its easy to look at Israel’s decision to walk away from God and be like other nations and lay that over my choice to do the same and wonder, how is there any hope? Is there any end to the cycle.
But there is. You see, Israel wasn’t all wrong when they asked for a King. They just
asked in the wrong place. Because, if you notice, they didn’t ask God for a king. They asked Samuel. But we know they were right when they asked for a King because while they followed the ways of other nations, God went to work providing the King they really needed. There’s a reason that Jesus is called King. He’s the King God provided to take the place of the earthly kings that had failed his people. Jesus is the king that God has provided to meet the needs of his people. And while the earthly king did nothing but take from the people, The King God provided has done nothing but give.
You may be here this morning, and the earthy Kings have taken everything you feel you have. We have a King that has given everything for you.
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