Today’s reading: 1 Samuel 8-15, Ps 38-39
Let’s pause for a quick review. Back in Genesis, God made a covenant with Abraham, promising that his descendants would be more numerous than he could count and that they would inherit a land to call their own. Three generations later, Abraham’s family ends up in Egypt where they are initially treated with favor. A new pharaoh comes into power, though, and is threatened by the presence of so many foreigners. The people of Israel are forced into slavery, which they endure for centuries. But God does not abandon them and, in time, provides for their deliverance.
The journey home begins, and after forty years the people of Israel arrive at their destination. In this new land, they are called to live differently than the way their predecessors have lived. In fact, the very reason God gives them the land is so that they can be set apart as a unique people–a people who will trust in God and obey all that God commands them. Repeatedly, they fail to honor the terms of the agreement, but God remains faithful.
By now, they should know that “if it had not been the LORD that was on our side,” they would surely be in a mess. Yet, once again, they fail to trust that God will make a way.
Samuel is getting old, and his sons have not shown much promise as future leaders. So the people panic, deluding themselves into thinking they would be better if they took things into their own hands. “Give us a king!” they say. Samuel tries to reason with them, but they tune him out.
“No!” they said. “We will have a king to rule over us! Then we’ll be just like all the other nations. . .” (1 Samuel 8:19-20)
How ironic. The people chosen by God for a special purpose would rather settle for being like everyone else. How often do we do the same thing? We forget God’s faithfulness to us and decide that doing things our own way, creating lives that look like everyone else’s around us, is the safer bet. The sign is clear: