King Me
1 Samuel 8:4-20

It’s been a big week for monarchists this week with our Queen celebrating her Diamond Jubilee.  We’ve seen concerts and parades and all kinds of events to commemorate this rare and prestigious event.  There are of course those who support the monarchy and those who don’t.  The republicans have probably been cringing or even seething as they’ve watched on throughout the week, but probably aren’t complaining about the long-weekend we’re enjoying as we celebrate the same lady’s birthday.  What they would really like is a change in the balance of power and the way we do politics in our country.

The Israelites who gathered together to put pressure on Samuel to appoint a king to rule over them were also keen for a shift in power.  They wanted a king to lead them so that they would be like all of the other nations by having someone to lead them and go out before them and fight their battles.

Samuel didn’t like the idea and went and prayed to the Lord for guidance as to what he should tell the people.  The message he received wasn’t going to please the elders or the people though. But he obediently went and shared everything that he had heard with them.  He explained what the consequences of having a king ruling over them might look like.

A human king will claim his rights as their ruler, he will send their sons to war, or make them work the ground for him, he will take the best of their land and crops for himself and take the best of their slaves and servants and make them work for his own benefit.  Then when they realise how hard done by they are they will start to cry out again for God to give them relief from the oppression of their king, just like they are today for them to have a king in the first place.

Samuel made it painfully obvious to them that they were better off the way they already were than they will ever be under and new king, but the people were insistent.  They cried out “NO, we want a king over us.  Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and go out before us and fight our battles.”  They really didn’t know when they were on to a good thing, they wanted to take what they assumed to be the easy route, but didn’t recognise the flaws in their plan.  They wanted to blindly follow someone into battle regardless of what the physical, emotional and financial cost may be.

It’s a bit like the worksafe commercials that are showing at the moment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2Wlf0rpmPk You know the ones, where the supervisor comes up to the employee and tells them that they want them to take on some dangerous and obviously unsafe task that will result in a nasty injury and they happily say, “Yeah, alright.”  They think that serving the master will have the best result for them when quite obviously it is going to severely injure them or take their life.  Sure these are fairly unrealistic scenarios but the end result for the Israelites would have been similarly disastrous for them.  But they wanted to go along with their idea anyway. 

They wanted someone to step up and fight their battles so that life would go smoothly.  Do you think they might have seen life a bit like a game of checkers?  You know how it goes, when you are making your first advance across the board you can only move forward, defeating the ‘enemy’ as you go and removing from the board.  Then once you have made it across to the other side and you have a ‘king’ you are able to move in any direction.  The player with the king has the distinct advantage in the field of play.  The king has the power to destroy any other piece on the board and to conquer any opposition that comes their way.  In addition to having the power that king is also the piece that is most vehemently protected.  You are usually happier to sacrifice another piece in order to protect the king.  To have a king the Israelites would have someone to follow into battle, but that would still come at a high cost to them.

Samuel was explaining to them those very costs, but they insisted that’s what they wanted.  Rather than living in obedience to the king of the entire world, the God who created the world and everything in it and delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians they were happy to blindly follow a king that would be appointed by Samuel.

This would be a king that would lead them, but would also require protection and sacrifice on their behalf.  But God isn’t like that; God isn’t the kind of ruler that needs protecting, he doesn’t ask us to sacrifice our lives for the sake of protecting him.  Much the opposite took place, he sent his son as the sacrificial piece in the puzzle to protect us from sin and evil.  No matter what is thrown our way by the evil one, he is there to protect us, to the point that he gave his life to save ours.

There is an important place in this world for rulers and authorities; they are there for good order and the wellbeing of society.  When there is no ruler anarchy generally reigns and the people struggle to maintain order and discipline.  There have also been kings and rulers throughout history who have unfortunately taken advantage of the power given to them or that they have taken for themselves.  Sinful human nature brings about greed and striving for power over others.  That’s why we regularly pray in our general prayer for our Queen, Prime Minister, Premier and all those in authority over us, and that they will make wise decision for the good of the people they are elected to serve.  God is ruler over all the world that he created, and wants us to serve him and each other and follow his will for us his forgiven people.

We may, like the Israelites who came to Samuel, demand something from him that isn’t good for us and will make life harder for us.  And we may stubbornly demand it too, even knowing what the consequences will be.  What we also know is that God will never leave us or forsake us.  He put up with all of the carrying on of the Israelites, he gave them the king they were asking for and even though he threatened to leave them to their own devices he never did.

He sent his son and restored all things to him, so that salvation would come to all of us, in spite of our disobedience he loves us and cares for us and forgives us.
What an amazing God we have.

Amen.