1 Samuel 8 Commentary
Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Hebrews 7:23-24 NIV. Old age and eventually death prevented the good Judge Samuel from continuing in office. The replacements, his sons, were not very different from Hophni and Phinehas. So we are back to ground zero. A king is required. But the people are not thinking of God as their king. They are thinking of a human king.
A human king it is but not now. For now, only a shadow placeholder would be given. With hindsight, we can tell that this shadow solution is King David. He will sit on the throne and hold the shadow scepter until the rightful owner comes.
Having been through the book of Judges, we easily understand why the people want a king. The vacuum that people feel is one that we again easily understand as one motivated by a lack of dominion or rule that man lost in the Garden of tranquility. But man doesn’t understand that the need can only be satisfied by the LORD himself. We again easily understand why the LORD objects to man’s solution.
Man is a sovereign being. He decides his own destiny. The LORD does however warn man of the consequences of his decisions. Here the consequences are summarized as the enslavement of man by man. The best of our solutions always take on this format: more of the same.
“We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” Ebenezer should have stood tall in reminding the people how far the LORD had brought them. He had been a real stone of help for Israel. Yet here they want a king. They want to be like everyone else. They reject an invisible but ever-present King. It is faith that instructs you to stay calm because of your awareness of the presence of the King. He leads you into your battles. You are not alone.
The Christian battle is a constant fight against the thought that the blessings must be physical before they are blessings. Faith, without which man can please God, on the other hand, thinks and rejoices in the completed work of the LORD, physical or otherwise. The saint’s brightest moment comes when she sits down to say a prayer of thanksgiving for a meal that hasn’t existed or has any chance of existing. It is all about an awareness of the presence of the King eternal, immortal, invisible God.
This chapter is speaking to us on the need to relook at our ambitions. Are we out there looking for a king? Do we want to be like the other nations around us? The moment you start admiring others, with their lands and gold, you want to stop and ask if you are not already desiring to be like them; to have a king like them. But you have a King!
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
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