Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 12 - 1 Samuel 8:7

The Lord said to Samuel ...
"They have not rejected you,
they have rejected me from being
king over them."
1 Samuel 8:7
Children have a way of wanting what they want when they want it. So imagine a house with six kids! It's a house with a lot of demands ... and it's a house that demands a lot of wisdom ... and a lot of self-sacrifice. I know a mother of six who, when her kids would "expect" and "demand" certain things, would say frequently, "Who's sitting on the throne of your life."
Israel could have used the Prophetess Kim -- Mother-of-Six -- as their mentor as Samuel grew old. Indeed, they absolutely could have used the wisdom of a good mom when they cried, "Samuel, you're old. Appoint for us a king so we can be like all the other nations."
Mom would have said, "First, it's not polite to point out a grown-up's age and wrinkles. Second, how many times do I have to tell you, 'Even if all the other kids are doing someting, that doesn't make it right.' If all the other kids are jumping off a bridge, would you jump off too?" Israel wanted to be like all the other nations and it would have two fateful consequence.
First, God, through Samuel, told the Israelites that if they insisted on having a king, the king would 1) take their sons and make them soldiers, 2) take their daughters and make them cooks and perfumers, take 3) the best of their flocks, 4) the best of their fields, and 5) a tenth of their vineyard (imagine, a government taxing them at the ungodly rate of 10%, a percentage initially designated for God -- first fruits and tithes).
But the Israelites literally said, "[We don't care!] We are determined to have a king over us, so that we may be like [all the] other nations." So they got as their first king. And it happened to be the man who was (9:2) the tallest, handsomest man in all the kingdom (think Brad Pitt's face on Shaquille O'Neal's body). Is that a recipe for success? 
Point one ... sometimes our worst fate is that we get what we ask for.
The second point is that Israel truly did get what they asked for. In asking for a king, they rejected God as their king. Now, their kingdom did have a few shining moments. King David, for the most part, followed God and expanded the kingdom. And Solomon did build the temple. But the heavy taxation began under Solomon's building spree, and when Solomon's son decided to tax them even more heavily, the kingdom split apart.
Eventually, the northern tribes were conquered and disappeared, and the southern tribes, while they had intermittent success, ultimately have spent most of the last three thousand years in various forms of dispersion, exile, and calamity.
On a smaller scale, that is our fate too. If any of us place me-myself-and-my-own-priorities on the throne of our lives, we can expect various forms of dispersion, exile, and calamity.
But if we want God to bless us, the path is clear: Bow to the King and he'll lift you up and give you the identity of prince.
In Christ's Love,
Prince Edward
(but only I know who the king is)

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