Like All the Nations

  • 1 Sam 8:1-7 Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.

There are turning points, watershed events, in the history of nations. This event is just such a turning point in the religious and political history of Israel. Samuel had faithfully served as judge and devoted his life to these people. Now they were voicing their lack of confidence in their judge and asking for a king.

Consider three observations:

  1. The catalyst for the change was rebellion & sin: Samuel’s sons were not like him and their treachery caused Israel to reject Samuel’s leadership. If we fail to teach our children to live for God it will hinder others and may cause them to desire a change.
  2. The change would have long-lasting effects: We will notice God’s predictions concerning the impact of a physical king. The state of the nation would be reflected, not in the power and righteousness of their God, but in the treachery and idolatry of their physical king.
  3. God allows the change. Although God is sovereign, He does not force men to follow Him. Israel had a choice. But God does reveal ahead of time the coming consequences of their choice.

I. The Desire to Be Like Others: One of the real lessons of this event is contained in their request to be “like all the nations” (v. 5) This desire to be like others is a challenge to our spiritual position with God. We all have this problem. It takes enormous courage to be different and do what is right despite those around us. There is no age discrimination here. Although young people may face peer pressure more often and more visibly, we are all under the pressure to conform. What can we learn about it here in 1 Samuel 8?

A. There is no compromise – no middle ground. God tells Samuel that their request was a clear rejection of His reign over them. 1 Sam. 8:7 – 7 And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. Following the in the course of the world around us is not compatible with following God. Matt 6:24 – 24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. James said friendship with the world is enmity toward God. (James 4:4)

1. Israel’s request for a king was a clear indication that they were unthankful for God’s leadership. They failed to recognize their blessings. He made them free and kept them from the tyranny of their enemies. Thankfulness is a guard against apostasy.

2. Their request was also a fruit of their past disobedience. Their rejection of Samuel was a continuation of their rejection of God as the true God. 1 Samuel 8:8 – According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day — with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods — so they are doing to you also. They had never truly turned to God.

II. The Consequences of Their Choice: God allowed their choice but not without a clear revelation about its consequences. 1 Sam 8:9 – Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.” God’s grace and His love can be seen in the fact that He warns us about the path we choose to take. (My dad and my desire to have a car of my own)

A. The character of their future king: 1 Sam 8:11, 13 And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. Vs. 13 – He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers.

1. What will he mean for your children? Their choice wouldn’t just affect them. It would change the generations to come. If we give in to our desire it won’t just affect us – it affects our family, friends, spouse, children & grandchildren. If we knew this about our choice to follow our own desires, would it matter to us?

2. What will he do for you? According to vs. 6&vs. 20 they expected their new king to “judge” them and fight their battles for them. They expected him to serve their needs. But God knows better. Vs. 12 – He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. They didn’t realize that they would become his servants! It would be his thousands, his ground, his harvest, his weapons & chariots.

a. Living for ourselves and conforming to be like others is never what we envision it to be. The young son who left his father and sought his freedom in the world found it be more difficult than they ever imagined. Luke 15:13-16 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

3. What will he take from you? 1 Sam 8:14-17 14 And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. 16 And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. The world demands that you pay a price to stay connected. It may be our values or our priorities. It will certainly cost you your time. You will not have these things to use for God.

4. What will he demand of you? He will make you do things you don’t want to do. 8:17b– “and you will be his servants”. The world is a hard taskmaster John 8:34-36 34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed. The desire to be like the world takes one back to Egypt. After urging the Roman Christians to be sanctified before God and rejecting the notion that a Christian could continue to sin because he was under grace Paul said in Romans 6knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. 7 For he who has died has been freed from sin – .vs, 16-18 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

B. They will regret it someday. Vs. 18 18 And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day.” Many people come to a point where they realize they have made a mistake by turning to be like others. They wish they had a higher purpose in life. They yearn for more of God and His word. Unfortunately, there are many ramifications of our choices that we cannot escape. Even though we repent, some consequences remain.

III. The Lord will not cast away His People: But there is good news in this story… Samuel anoints Saul king over Israel in chapter 10. In chapter 11 Saul defeats Nahash and the Amonites, and Samuel calls all the people together at Gilgal to renew the kingdom (11:14-15) to give Saul an official installation. Then in chapter 12 comes Samuel’s speech at Saul’s coronation. It was not exactly what the people wanted to hear! Samuel defends His character and rehearses to the people God’s righteous acts in behalf of His people. Time and time again Israel had sinned and God allowed their enemies to oppress them. When they cried out for deliverance, He delivered them. Now they have rejected Him once again by rejecting Samuel and asking for a king.

A. “You shall see your wickedness is great” – Samuel wants them to recognize the magnitude of their rebellion. So in 12:17 he says, “Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain; and you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for yourselves a king. When God sends thunder and rain, the people fear and confess their sins in 12:19: Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.

B. A Call for Repentance and the Good News. When the people have been brought to fear and repent of their sin… 1 Sam 12:20-22 – Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. 22 For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people.

1. This is the gospel — even though you have sinned greatly and rejected the Lord as the King of your life, if you turn back and serve Him with all your heart, the Lord will not forsake you. Do not fear! God will not forsake His people.

Conclusion: Who is your King? Although Israel sought and received a physical king, they never escaped the sovereignty of God over their nation. Their destiny was in His hands. So it is with us. We are called to choose – will He rule in our lives or not? Yet, in the end, we do not escape His sovereign rule. Jesus ascended to heaven to receive the kingdom, and He reign over that kingdom even now. Will you submit to Him?