When Israel asked for a king, it was a turning point in their history. After having been presided over by judges who truly represented God as the true king over Israel, a situation was emerging where the nation would have a king like the other nations around them.

What prompted Israel to ask for a king? The request for a king was brought on by the fact that Samuel’s sons who were appointed judges over Israel failed to be upright and godly. A lack of godly leadership does bring with it great dissatisfaction and a vacuum that needs to be filled. However there was a deeper problem, which is evident as we see the Lord’s displeasure and reaction to the request by Israel’s leaders.

First, the request for a king represented a lack of faith. Whenever you accept the kingship of the Lord, while you do have the most powerful being in the Universe as your leader, you are troubled by the fact that this leader is invisible. And only with faith can you bridge that gap and come to accept and rejoice in his leadership. A true Christian life is unlivable without faith. It is only with faith, that you believe in God and truly accept his presence and make it a reason for your decisions. Imagine the Israelites led by Joshua, walking around the walls of Jericho believing it would fall. That would not have happened without faith. How great is the tendency for man to lean on that which is visible as opposed to depend on the invisible God! It would have been far easier to believe that the walls would fall with a battering ram than by marching around it. But under the leadership of Moses and Joshua, after having been sustained in the exodus by God, the nation was filled with faith and so could believe and make it a reality. A Christian needs to constantly move within his mind to apply faith in the day-to-day decisions of his life. This would mean to trust in God rather than in the seen visible things like money, people, organizations, talent and so on. Once faith is real in his mind, actions based on faith will follow and he truly begins to live in the realm of faith.

The request for a king also involved a rejection of God as their king. ‘—it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king’ says God to Samuel in 1Samuel 8:7. Rejection of God in this situation involved a retraction in their walk with God. It is never healthy when a Christian retrogresses in his journey with God. Are we conscious of our relationship with God and more importantly, are we making progress? If not we are going back because in the spiritual realm, there is always a movement. To grow in the Lord and experience God in a deeper way is a commitment each person needs to have in his spiritual journey.

Finally, the request for a king reflected a desire to conform to the nations around them. ‘—-now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have’ (1Samuel 8:5). Man has the tendency to imitate those around him. Conformity becomes a natural and convenient way to integrate and be accepted by society. Yet the Bible exhorts us, ‘Be not conformed to the pattern of the world’ (Romans 12:2). The problem with the pattern of the world is that it is usually not inspired by God’s ways and his truths. The worldly pattern is based on the sinful nature, is inspired by the god of this world and destined for destruction from an eternal standpoint. Conforming to it is not a good investment from an eternal standpoint, nor is it good for life here on earth from a long term and holistic perspective.

Asking for a king was much more than an innocent request. And even though God disapproved of it, he granted them their request when they persisted with their demand. Finally when the era of kingship came, just as Samuel predicted, the nation paid the price by being subject to most kings who oppressed them more than nurtured them.

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