We Want a King!

1 Samuel: A Heart for God  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  52:58
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Israel's problem isn't asking for a king, the problem is foolishly demanding a king instead of waiting for God's timing and direction. God gives them what they want but offers fair warning about the lesson they will learn about the cost of a human king.

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We Want a King! - 1 Samuel 8

PRAY & Intro:
I read a book recently (by Todd Wagner - Come & See) with a helpful illustration from the author’s own life of taking his kids to get candy at the store with the change that they saved, offering to hold them up and show them where the good stuff is. But one daughter insisted on her way down on the bottom shelf and chose a fireball… which he decided to let her have. The family talks about it to this day as an illustration of trusting in the goodness and the ways of God over our own inclinations.
1 Samuel 8:1–9 ESV
When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”

The People Demand a Human King (vv. 1-5)

The first thing in chapter 8 reminds me of a proverb:
Proverbs 17:25 ESV
A foolish son is a grief to his father and bitterness to her who bore him.
Samuel’s Sons Disappoint
You can imagine Samuel’s disappointment (especially v. 3). But it does raise the question:
How do we wisely and biblically understand this situation with Samuel’s sons?
What kind of a man is Samuel? Is his situation similar or distinct from Eli’s?
What level of responsibility does he bear for his sons actions? (and in giving the Israelites additional fodder for demanding a monarchy…. because we know that becomes their pretext for demanding a king, v. 5a)
Samuel’s character - Our text doesn’t in any way suggest that Samuel is another Eli.
Samuel even named his sons Joel and Abijah - “the Lord is God” and “my Father is the Lord” or “Jehovah is Father”
In fact, Samuel is able to say with a clear conscience in the near future, and the people do not disagree:
1 Samuel 12:3–5 ESV
Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you.” They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.” And he said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they said, “He is witness.”
To be sure, hereditary judges were not the way that God had been working. - But they were merely judges “for Israel,” in a southern frontier town of Beersheba, not replacing Samuel or anything of the sort. (It doesn’t say that they were priests, and certainly no mention is made of them being prophets of God like Samuel.) That means Samuel couldn’t really have set them up as his replacements. (What the people in effect ask for does function as a dynasty, so that a king’s sons would rule whether they feared the Lord or not!)
It must be admitted that Samuel setting his sons up in any leadership role seems to have contributed to the problem, at the very least providing an additional excuse to the people for demanding a king.
Having a human ruler/leader isn’t the problem. The problem is this: “like all the nations.”
“Like All The Nations
Their requesting of a king, and in this manner, directly fulfilled prophecy: God said this would happen. God wasn’t surprised.
Deuteronomy 17:14 ESV
“When you come to the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’
But God’s foreknowledge that they would do this doesn’t mean that God approved of the heart motivation
Proverbs 24:1–2 ESV
Be not envious of evil men, nor desire to be with them, for their hearts devise violence, and their lips talk of trouble.
Psalm 37:1–2 ESV
Fret not yourself because of evildoers; be not envious of wrongdoers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb.
We see that it is exactly this wrong attitude that is the problem. See how…

Samuel and God Respond (vv. 6-9)

Samuel is getting older, but he isn’t DEAD. In fact, we find that he has many good years of service left.
Literally the text says “the thing was evil in Samuel’s sight.” - Samuel knows this is “evil.” (rather than being personally offended)
Human leaders ought to be the chief servants of the people who are under-shepherds leading people to follow the Lord. - The king—any ruler in authority—is to be following God, serving the people.
Rejecting Samuel is less a rejection of him than of God. - If that happens to you, take it as a compliment!
John 15:18–19 ESV
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Rejecting God as King
This is nothing new and nothing short of idolatry. - Who is King over Israel? Who ought to be it’s ruler?
From theocracy to monarchy...
The problem is the rebellion in our hearts against God’s rule. (How? What are we doing?) - Just let me have it my way, God, ok?
Do what they ask, but give them full warning.
God is so kind that even in their rejection of his loving authority, he gives them wise warning so that when they experience the consequences for their choice they will know and remember the word of the Lord.
[recap] Israel's problem isn't asking for a king, the problem is foolishly demanding a king instead of waiting for God's timing and direction. God gives them what they want but offers fair warning about the lesson they will learn about the cost of a human king.
1 Samuel 8:10–22 ESV
So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be 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.” And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”

The Cost of a King (vv. 10-18)

The cost of elevating a mere man to kingship. (supreme ruler)
“He Will Take
Self-enriching king… “he will take” repeated
How a king rules: “Some of these things were the normal cost of a central, standing administration, but others indicate a predictable abuse of power (see note on 8:14–15).” -Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 504). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.
Fair warning: So that you are without excuse when I do not deliver you from your own king. (v. 18) - Don’t come crying to me. (It almost sounds like this, but we know there’s no snarkiness in the heart of God.)
The High Cost of Our Own Way
In what we seem to think is self-enrichment for us! - Satan wants us to overestimate the value of sin, our own wisdom, and so on. - ‘the cost is high and the ride is short’
Isaiah 53:6 ESV
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Why do we insist on our way? - Because in our twisted nature we don’t ultimately like charity and grace, and we don’t like relinquishing control and credit (glory) into God’s hands. It’s just too humbling. We think if we earn it, it’s ours.
God is good to us beyond our foolishness and offers us a way out, but it will be his way!
But God doesn’t force us, he wants our hearts. - So here too, as a means of teaching, God will allow them first to have their own way.

The People Get What They Want (vv. 19-22)

In essence, despite the warning, they behave like defiant children.
But we want a king!
To do our judging and fighting… To judge (king’s fundamental responsibility) and to go out before us a fight our battles (military leader).
There is also a neat little insertion about prayer in here that should be a reminder to us: Samuel repeats everything to God… not because God needs to hear from us in order to be informed, but because WE NEED GOD. (share all our burdens with him… Samuel needs intimacy with God.)
Make them a king.
When God says, ok, you can have it your way, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. - When he knows he’s sovereign to work through these circumstances as well and also teach you a lesson along the way.
What we ultimately need is a perfect King both divine and human:
Isaiah 9:6–7 ESV
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
God does better for us than we know we need or are able to request.

What Should We Want?

Israel's problem isn't asking for a king, the problem is foolishly demanding a king instead of waiting for God's timing and direction. God gives them what they want but offers fair warning about the lesson they will learn about the cost of a human king.
There is a kind of persistence, even in prayer, that isn’t really pious at all. It’s a persistence to get our own way.
Do we really not want to trust in a God who is good and sovereign, rather than in ourselves and our own wisdom?
Seek God first and trust him to add all that he deems best. (see Matt. 6:33)
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