1 Samuel 8:1-22 Submission is the Beginning of Freedom
1 Samuel 8:1-22
1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They 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, “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.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 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. 8 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. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 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. 12 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. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 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. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 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. 19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 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.” 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 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.”
Samuel was advanced in age, and without a credible plan of succession, the people took occasion to ask for a human king. Their request suggest greater self-rule and freedom and subtly displayed their rebellion against the rule of God. Although it has always been within God’s plan to appoint a human king for them, Israel was at that time not ready for self-rule. Nevertheless, God acceded to their request by first making known to them the consequences of having a human king. By not protecting them from their ill decision, God allows them to learn wisdom by bearing their own consequences. God, in His wisdom will entrust greater authority to us when we are fully submitted under His rule. True freedom and authority come from full submission to God.
Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations – By this time, Samuel had ruled Israel for a good many years and being well advanced in age, he appointed his sons to help him judge the nation. However, his sons have acted dishonestly and perverted justice for their selfish gain and the people took occasion and use that as a pretext to ask for a regime change; they wanted a human king to rule them instead. Samuel, acting as a judge facilitates God’s rule over the nation and the people live under the laws that was first given to Moses. In other words, under the system of judges, God is King over Israel and goes to war for them. Under the system of a human king, Israel is submitted under the king who has authority over the nation’s resources. Under a human king, God will no longer be intimately involved in the running of the country.
They have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them – Samuel was displeased at the people’s request but given his age and his sons’ moral failure he was left without a credible succession plan. However, the heart of the issue was the people’s desire to be independent of God’s rule; they wanted to set their own policies and do not wish to be bound by God’s laws in civil matters and policies. God with a hint of disappoint said that the people’s request is not directed at Samuel but a Him: They have not rejected you, but they have rejected me.
Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them – God’s reply came as a surprise to Samuel as God has always been autocratic and unyielding having ruled Israel with an iron hand throughout his tenure as judge. God acceded to the people’s demand because they have all along resisted God’s rule and served other gods from the time they came out of Egypt; He gave in to their demand like a loving father letting his son have his way in order that he may learn wisdom. The issue is not whether Israel should have a king but rather the timing of God’s appointment of a king for Israel has not yet arrived. Nevertheless, God wanted the people to take responsibility for their decision in asking for a king in order for them to learn wisdom.
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 – After giving the people a myriad of possible consequences in asking for a king including God’s refusal to intervene should they cry out to Him, they remained resolute in their decision. The Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” This sealed Israel’s fate for the next 40 years before God in good time raised up another king who is after God’s own heart.
- When man makes a decision against the will of God, God will not rectify that decision when he cries out to him. When a man decides to continue in his own ways despite multiple warnings, his decision will run its course and he will bear the consequences of it. This is important so that man may learn to weigh his decisions knowing that he will have to bear full responsibility for it. Some decisions may wipe out years of fruitfulness and even cause one to detract from God’s ordained calling. However, if he would confess his sins and repent before God, God will make a way to restore him back to the path of his calling.
- Sometimes it is the wiser thing to let people have their way of folly so that through the consequences of their decision they may learn to weigh between obedience and fleshly passion, between faith and unbelief. People have a tendency to want to test out their own methods against the true wisdom of the word. Hence, people need to experience pain in order to be convinced and to see for themselves the wisdom of God. They may suffer for their folly, but ultimately they will grow in that experience. God decided to let the people have their king so that in suffering for their mistake, they may learn to obey God in the future.
- When believers operate in God’s truth, being obedient to His every instruction, He begins to entrust more authority to us. The more we mature in putting on God’s virtues and attributes, the more we will participate in ruling with Christ. Man can participate in ruling with God, but man can never be independent from God simply because God is the source of life and power, and all things exist because of Him. The more we are submitted to God’s rule, the more we are in control of life’s circumstances. Even Jesus who is fully God is totally submitted to the Father’s authority. Jesus says,
“I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” John 8:28-29
In another instance, Jesus says,
“For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.” John 5:21-23
In submitting to authority, we acquire greater authority. The more we depend on God and mature into His likeness, the more we will rule with Him. It is not time for Israel to have a king because they have not learned to submit under God’s rule and walk in His virtues.
God entrust His authority to us by empowering us with supernatural capabilities, He reveals to us His future plans and gives us charge over His angels. Hence, our prayers become more effective, our communication with the Spirit becomes sharper, and we become more objective in our spiritual discernment. However, when God entrust authority to us, He expects us to be fully obedient to His commands and faithful to the commission at hand.
- Have you in the past made decision(s) that are contrary to God’s will? These decision(s) could have been made out of ignorance or immaturity. But if we confess our sins and repent before God, He will make a way to restore us to the path of our calling.
- Do you wish to receive greater authority and empowerment from God? If your answer is yes, then you must listen to God’s instructions and discharge your responsibilities diligently one day at a time. If you remain faithful in smaller things, God will entrust bigger responsibilities to you and with it greater authority and power.
Dear Lord, I confess to the ill decisions that I have made in the past that have been causing me lost opportunities and time. I thank you for bringing me back and restoring me to the path of my original calling. Empower me today so that I could be more effective in the tasks that you have given me. I open my soul to receive your wisdom and empowerment. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.