We can agree that the situation was bad. The current leaders were corrupt. They turned towards dishonest gain, they received money from lobbyists and individuals that swayed their decisions and they perverted justice. When this happens in any nation and in any time in history, it’s bad and the people suffer.
Samuel’s sons were so bad that the elders of Israel came to him and pointed out the evil of his sons were committing that Samuel had appointed over Israel. So instead of seeking the Lord for what to do, they asked Samuel for something worse–that he would choose a king for them so that they would be like the other nations.
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 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.” (1 Sam 8:6-8).
There are several things that I glean from this right away. Oftentimes when we see something go bad, we want to be the ones to bring the solution of what we think is best. And sometimes, it isn’t best.
For example when a car breaks down, we pray for money to fix it or buy another one. Or when we need something, we ask God for money. But instead of asking God for money, we would do better to ask for what we need–transportation, repair, or whatever it is we need. Otherwise when we pray for money, money subtly becomes our God.
Second, pressure to be like those around us is very, very strong. We talk to teens about peer pressure but the reality is that adults live succumb to it even moreso. We have this strong longing to be like those around us and not get teased or mocked because of it. But living a Christian life means going against the mainstream.
Third, it is often that we want what we want and God gives us second best. Ugh. Do we really want God’s second best? His concession? Because when we do it is fraught with problems. God will still help us and even be with us, but our lives will be full of trouble.
This was exactly the case with Israel. They demanded a king and God gave one to them. But it meant that the king took part of their money, their lands, their sons for war, and daughters for workers, etc… There’s a price to pay for rejecting God.
Sometimes we too choose God’s second best. And it’s nothing but trouble.