Wednesday, May 18, 2011

saying "No!" to God

But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, "No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles."
1 Samuel 8:19-20

The Israeli monarchy began with the nation in rebellion against God. Samuel attempted to create his own "dynasty" by appointing his sons as judges. His sons, however, did not share his character and commitments and defaulted to bribery and self-satisfaction with their offices. The people immediately turned to Samuel with a simple solution: Appoint a king over all of Israel.

Samuel knew that the motivation behind the request was not in conformance with the will of God. He went to the Lord, and God told him to give in to the request, but first with a prophetic warning about what the monarchy would do to the people. They heard Samuel's words and yet still chose to continue in their request for a king. It is clear that this is more than just dissatisfaction with Samuel or his sons. This is a desire to have something that everyone else has. It is driven by a desire to be like the rest of the nations. It would be cool to have a king.

The ESV translation is emphatic. The people "refused to obey" Samuel's warning. The first word in answer to him is: "No!" The exclamation point strongly punctuates their refusal to heed the warning from God. They don't care about the potential consequence. They are driven by want for something, and this desire does not consider the spiritual consequences. They were ultimately saying "No" to God.

This story stands as a warning to me. I need to consider that really, any time that I am driven by my own strong personal desire, I am saying "No" just as strongly. The Christian life is one of submission and surrender to the Lordship of Christ. It allows God's thoughts to direct my every choice. It analyzes the culture around me in the light of God's Word. It says "Yes" to God's warnings and direction and "No" to anything that does not align with that. It is foolish for me to live any other way.

- Prepare your minds for action.
1 Peter 1:13

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