- 1 Samuel 7
- 1 Samuel 8
- Hosea 13:9-11
Pray… that you will continue to be inspired and encouraged as you read God’s word and come to understand it better.
Day 120 – Israel Wants a King
Israel rejects God as their king
- Today’s readings (the 1 Samuel ones, I mean) mark the end of one story (Samuel leading the people in a similar way that the judges did) and the beginning of a new story where the people demand a king. You might wonder why we’re reading both chapters together when they have seemingly quite different focuses. That would be a fair question, but I think it really helps us to see the sinful minds of the Israelites in 1 Samuel 8. The author of the book has put these chapters together and written the book to highlight that even in the face of God’s goodness and deliverance in 1 Samuel 7, the people still turn away from him just one chapter later. That said, there was probably many years between the end of chapter 7 and the start of chapter 8, as Samuel is by then an old man.
- How would you sum up 1 Samuel 7? What is Samuel encouraging the people to do? Who have you heard make similar calls in the past?
- At the start of chapter 7, the people re-commit themselves to God. In verse 7, however, they come under attack again. People who have recently committed themselves to God often come under attack, or have hardships to deal with in their lives. Why do you think this might be?
- Look at 1 Samuel 7:12. “Till now, the Lord has helped us”, reflects the wise Samuel. Is that true in your life?
- How did God show love and mercy to His people in chapter 7 when the people turned to Him in prayer and fasting?
- Chapter 8 marks a clear turn in the mindset of the Israelite people. It shows them starting to ask for a king, knowing that Samuel is about to die, and not having any faith in his sinful sons. Why did the people want a king? This is an important question. Take time thinking about a few possible answers. Take care not to just see the initial answers the Israelites give (i.e. that Samuel is old). What are the real reasons?
- Why did the Israelites, in reality, not need a king? They said that they wanted to be like the other nations (1 Samuel 8:5), but they were not. What was special about them in comparison to all the other nations?
- 1 Samuel 8:7 is an important verse. What is God saying?
- Samuel’s warning the people about what it will be like with a king is clear in chapter 8. How do the people respond? What does the passage in Hosea add, in a form of a retrospective look back?
- What does God decide to do, as 1 Samuel 8 closes?
People are always looking for a king – either someone to lead them, or to gain acceptance with, or to unify towards. Or maybe it’s something, rather than someone. God is our one true King though, isn’t He? This passage warns us to remember that in Christ we already have everything. Putting our trust in governments, bank accounts, relationships, or whatever, is fine for the reasons that they exist for, but no more. They will, in time, all pass away. True security is, of course, only found in Christ.
The Israelites knew in their minds that God had provided for them time and time again. Their lives were the living proof – as was the land around them. Why then did they desire to be like all the other nations? It didn’t make sense, does it?
Well, maybe a little. What is understandable is the temptation to sin and stray, even when we know in our hearts what we’re straying from. Every time we mess up and sin, we know we shouldn’t have done it. We also all know the temptations to have the things that our friends have which we’re challenged to avoid.
Israel’s desire for a king – as we’ll read over the next few months as we work through them all – will bring the nation to its knees, battered, bloodied and scattered. But it didn’t stop God’s salvation plan and His fulfilment of His promises to Abraham.
It’s the same for you and I. You will have to deal with the human consequences of your sin, and poor choices, and your submission to temptation, in whatever form that takes. But God never – ever – stops loving you. And nor will your parents, or your youth leaders, for we all know what it is to deal with – and fail with – those challenges too.
I hope you’re excited to read about this next stage in the history of God’s great story!