‘Now make for us a king to judge us’ I Samuel 8:6
PROFESSIONS OF FAITH
One of the questions that I was recently asked was about the Israelites asking for a king (monarch). Were they asking for a king in defiance of God’s clear commands? Were they in sin and rebellion, or was it the motive and desire that was wrong? What does the Bible have to say about this subject?
In Deuteronomy 17:14-15, Moses prepared the way for a king when he wrote, “You shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God shall choose.” Genesis 19:10 talks about, “the scepter shall not depart from Judah.” Then in Numbers 24:17 it says, “a scepter shall rise out of Israel.” These last two verses were referring to the Christ, the coming Messiah. This brings into play the fact that there had to be a king over Israel for the Christ to come through the kingly line. In Luke 23:3, Jesus confesses to being the King of the Jews. So here is the problem; if they were allowed to have a king, and prophecy would be fulfilled through Israel having a king, then why were they condemned in I Samuel 12:19-20?
It was God’s original desire and intent that the nation of Israel would be a theocracy (ruled by God), that they would call on Him and He would deliver them in time of need. This was His ultimate plan, but He did allow them the choice. This can be very hard to understand, let me try and explain. As an example: it was meant to be one man and one woman since creation, this was God’s ultimate plan. But He did allow divorce and also made provision for it. Multiple wives were allowed and provision was made for it under Old Testament law. God allowed other things that were not the best choice, but he gave man the freedom to choose. Man often chose the way which was not the most glorifying to God or the best for himself. In spite of this, God would use the sinfulness of man to bring about His purposes.
There also seems to be a problem of sin behind the entire situation of them wanting a king. Samuel’s sons were crooked and perverse; justice was not their end goal. Therefore the people wanted a king like all the nations. This phrase, “like all the nations,” seems to be hinting at an underlying problem. Since the Jews were led out of Egypt, they had a problem of trying to be like the nations around them. In Deuteronomy 18:9-14, God gives a warning to the Israelites concerning the wicked customs of the nations around them. It wasn’t long before the people did exactly as they had been told not to do.
God had no problem with a king, if the king was chosen for all the right reasons. It appears that the people wanted a king that they could put complete confidence in, one who would build up their military and defense to the point that their confidence was in men rather than God. In Deuteronomy 17:16-20, there is a list of things a king should and should not do, eventually Israel disobeyed all of them. It was God’s will that Israel would revere Him first and call upon Him in the day of trouble. He wanted to be first and foremost in their minds and hearts.
Psalm 50:15 says, “call upon me in the day of trouble.” Psalm 105:1 says, “call upon his name; make known His deeds among the people.” Psalm 147:11 says, “The Lord takes pleasure in those who fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy.” God loves to answer the prayers of His people who are in need; He receives honor and glory through the praise of His people. John Piper deals with this topic in some of his books. Here are two quotes from his book “Desiring God,” the first one is on page 170, “God aims to exalt Himself by working for those who wait for Him.” And on page 171 he makes this statement, “God is not looking for people to work for Him, so much as He is looking for people who will let Him work for them.”
King David (in spite of his problems) was a man after God’s own heart; he constantly led the people back to God and His word. Hezekiah was another king who sought to lead the people according to God’s word, although imperfectly. These two examples show that it was possible to have an earthly king and still keep God first in our thoughts, affections and worship.
are a few concluding thoughts;
A — A theocracy was God’s ultimate plan for Israel, but he gave them the choice. Directives were already in place for a king according to God’s will and plan.
B — The Israelites sin was in their wanting a king like all the other nations instead of what God wanted.
C — The relationship between God and His people under the leadership of a king could have been a blessing to the people and brought glory to God, if implemented according to God’s guidelines.
D — God used the sinfulness of men to fulfill prophecy about the perfect King who was to come; He also brought glory, honor and praise unto Himself through it all.
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Lyndon Stimeling, of Richfield, has been writing about faith and family for many years. He has self-published two books, “Common Thoughts on The Word” in 2016 and “Eye of a Needle” in 2017. He has also had articles published in The Coming Home Journal and local newspapers and has written a children’s book.