All the elders of Israel assembled and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 And said to him, Behold, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint us a king to rule over us like all the other nations. 6 But it displeased Samuel when they said, Give us a king to govern us. And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken to the voice of the people in all they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not be King over them. 1 Samuel 8:4-7 AMP
Samuel felt that the people were rejecting his leadership, by asking for a king, but God assured him that they were not rejecting Samuel, but they were actually rejecting God and His leadership in their lives! For about 1,400 years – from Abraham to Samuel – the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had been under a theocracy, ruled by God alone. Now they wanted a king – like the other nations around them – to unite and lead their nation and to judge them and fight their battles. They knew that Samuel’s sons were not fit to lead them, but they were not content to allow God to raise up their next leader. They wanted laws, an army and a human monarch in place of God.
The people wanted to run their nation by human strength instead of God’s strength – a move destined for failure. They wanted a new system of government – someone else to take responsibility for them; to tell them what to do. They traded their freedom for the “comfort and security” of a human system of control. They thought a king would fix all their problems and bring a positive change to their nation, but because their basic problem was disobedience toward God, under a new administration, their problems would not simply go away. They couldn’t see that they were already free men under God. Instead of lifting a burden, they were heaping more burdens upon themselves. They did not need uniform rule, but rather unified faith! If we ask God to lead our family or personal life, but continue to live by the world’s standards and values, it means that our obedience is weak. Our faith in God has to touch all the practical areas of life.
God did not want them to have a king, because they would look to man and forget that God was their leader. God wanted them to be free – to be accountable only to Him. He wanted to prevent the slavery that results from unscrupulous leaders. If they would only have submitted to God’s leadership over them, they would have thrived. God wanted to give them the freedom to serve only Him and to work and produce only for God and themselves. Having a king, however, would mean that they would lose their personal freedoms and that they would have to work for and pay for the king and his government.
In 1 Samuel 8:8-17 AMP the Lord spoke to Samuel saying: According to all the works which they have done since I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking Me and serving other gods, so they also do to you. So listen now to their voice; only solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them. So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked of him a king. And he said, These will be the ways of the king who shall reign over you:
1. He will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots.
2. He will appoint them for himself to be commanders over thousands and over fifties,
3. He will appoint some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest
4. He will appoint some to make his implements of war and equipment for his chariots.
5. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers.
6. He will take your fields, your vineyards, and your olive orchards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
7. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants.
8. He will take your men and women servants and the best of your cattle and your donkeys and put them to his work.
9. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves shall be his slaves.
We can either trust in God or we can trust in man. God asks for a tithe of the blessing He pours out upon us and He promises to continue to abundantly bless us as we serve and honor him. Except for the tithe, all the produce of the work of our hands is ours to enjoy. On the other hand, the government of man demands more and more of our own resources and makes us work to support them instead of our own families. We can see even in modern times, the more the people look to the government of man for support and sustenance, the more they give up – in freedoms and in prosperity. The government of man sees the people as their own personal piggy bank – there to meet their needs. The people become objects to be used and exploited.
God, however, sees us as His precious children – with value and worth – there for Him to bless and protect! It’s our choice whom we will serve. We can serve, honor and obey God as a nation and walk in prosperity and peace, or we can trust in the arm of the flesh and we can live as slaves to the system like all the other sinners, with only the illusion of freedom. When you have chosen to look only to man, and replaced God with government for your leadership and rule, then don’t expect the blessing of God on your life, because, unfortunately, it won’t be there.
In that day you will cry out because of your king you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not hear you then. 19 Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, No! We will have a king over us, 20 That we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles. 21 Samuel heard all the people’s words and repeated them in the Lord’s ears. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, Hearken to their voice and appoint them a king. And Samuel said to the men of Israel, Go every man to his city. 1 Samuel 8:18-22 AMP