Be careful what you wish for! A popular old children’s fable tells of a king by the name of Midas. According to the legend, King Midas was granted anything one thing he wanted. Being consumed by greed, Midas requested that everything he touched be turned to gold. At first his new gift seemed wonderful. He attained wealth beyond human imagination, but soon he discovered the folly of his greed. When he tried to eat or drink, his food and water turned to gold. When he hugged his own daughter, she turned into a golden statue. Overcome with regret, and dying of starvation, King Midas returned to the one who had granted his request. There he was instructed to bathe in the River Pactolus to wash his wish away.
· Have you ever wished for something, only to regret it later?
· Have you ever had a friend or family member wish for something you knew would not be good for them?
· Little children often wish for things that could be harmful. Imagine what would happen if we gave them everything they desired. What would our society become if this were the norm?
Study the Word
In 1 Samuel 8:4-5 we read how the elders of Israel came to Samuel and demanded a king. They may have had good reason. Moses prophesied that God would, in fact, place them under the rule of a king (Deut 17:14-20). The representatives of the clans and tribes of Israel had genuine reason for anxiety over the current establishment. The previous generation suffered because of the evil and corruption of Eli’s sons, (1 Samuel 2:12, 22) and now it was clear that history was about to repeat itself. They saw how corrupt Samuel’s sons were, and they knew that the kingdom would be very different once Samuel was gone. It seemed in their best interest to protect the future kingdom. The people had endured many decades of war and conquest. No doubt they were tired of war, and looked forward to days of prosperity and peace. Perhaps a king could fight their battles for them (1 Samuel 8:20). This way the common man could live in tranquility, knowing that his protection and security was in the hands of someone else. All the other nations had kings (1 Samuel 8:5, 19-20). It seemed to be working well for them. Why not accept the new, more fashionable way of doing things and appoint a king?
Why didn’t Samuel simply grant their request? What could be the harm? Instead it made him angry. Samuel knew that submitting to the authority of a king was a clear rejection of God. “If God was truly king, then He made the political decisions for Israel, He made the laws and the constitution, He decided on wars and alliances, and did everything else that a human king might do in other countries. Unless a human king of Israel was absolutely obedient to Yahweh’s decisions, then he would certainly in some ways be displacing God. So the elders’ demand amounted to treason.” (D.A. Carson—New Bible Commentary) Every reason the Israelites gave was a rejection of God. They wanted to see their own solutions and no longer rely on God.
1. Samuel Responds
· What was Samuel’s reaction to their request? (1 Samuel 8:6, 8:21)
· In 1 Samuel 8:10-18 Samuel warns them of the consequences. Review the list of warnings.
· Read the passage a second time and make note of the number times Samuel uses the word “TAKE”.
2. How did God respond to their request?
· God gave them five warnings
i. They would be forced into military service. (vv. 11-12)
ii. The king would take their personal belongings. (v. 14)
iii. He would institute a type of labor tax. (vv. 12,16)
iv. He would force the people into “royal service”. (vv. 13,16)
v. Burden them with a 10% tax. (vv. 15,17)
Ultimately the Israelites would become servants of the crown
· God granted their request. (1 Samuel 8:7-8, 9, 22; 9:16)
· Got assured Samuel that they were not rejecting him, but God.
In some ways you may say that God is very polite. He will never go where He is not welcome. He will never force us to follow His way. He will never usurp our right to choose. Yet, what He has to offer is so much better than we could possibly imagine. You see, God wanted to give Israel a very different kind of king -- One that would bring salvation to all mankind and peace to the world. (Isaiah 9:6-7). Yet they insisted on having their way so they could be just like all the other nations. This story presents another good example of God’s permissive will. We also notice that God gave the Israelites fair warning about the consequences of their actions. Essentially he was saying, “I’m going to let you decide, but you must know there WILL be consequences.”
· Are there areas of your life where you need to trust and obey the Lord?
· We use the phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” as a way of illustrating our covetous desires. We see what someone else has and decide we want the same things. Sometimes we search for happiness in all the wrong places. Read Philippians 4:11-13. Are there areas of your life where you need to learn to be content?