1 Samuel 8:6-8 (New International Version)
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to theLord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you.
God had chosen Abraham’s descendants as his representatives to the world. He had guided them through the years, rescued them from slavery in Egypt, and provided for and protected them through the wilderness until they arrived at Canaan. The God of the universe had reached down to earth, and entered into a covenant — a contract — with humanity, agreeing to be their eternal King.
But now they have officially rejected the kingship of God. They tell Samuel: “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle” (New Living Translation).
Samuel can’t believe it when he hears the people say this. How could they desire a human, earthly, fallible man leading them when they had God as their King? God had a great plan for the people, and they have now collectively turned their backs on it.
How often in our lives do we look at the plan God has for us, and think: “That’s great. But I have a better idea.”
Maybe you’ve never thought those exact words, but I’m guessing you know what I’m talking about. And it’s understandable. After all, following God is not easy! Many of God’s commandments fly in the face of what the world advises us. When we’re tempted to be dishonest to get ahead, God tells us to be honest in spite of the consequences. When we witness injustice, God tells us to courageously stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. When we’re persecuted, God tells us to love our enemies.
God never promised that following him would be simple, or that we would never be tempted “to be like the people around us.” What God did promise is that we would never, never, never be alone in the midst of the challenge. God promises that we will be given the strength we need to live a joy-filled, soul-healthy life. And God promises that the rewards are nothing short of eternal.
When you are struggling between difficult choices, what helps you to make the God-honoring decision?