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The Quest for a King

Devotions

A vote of confidence is sometimes taken to indicate whether or not leaders continue to have support from those they serve. The term may be misleading. In most cases, such a vote occurs only when a significant number of people have expressed a lack of confidence in their leader.

As Samuel aged, the elders of Israel grew worried about the future. Samuel’s sons did not share their father’s faith or his values. The elders worried about the direction his sons’ leadership would take after Samuel was gone. Their solution was to demand that Samuel appoint a king, “such as all the other nations have” (v. 5).

Samuel’s displeasure over this turn of events may seem puzzling. It looks like these tribal leaders were only acting responsibly. Yet verse 7 reveals a more disturbing motive. The problems were real but their solution betrayed a lack of confidence in God. They were motivated by an unhealthy desire to follow the pattern of “all the other nations” (v. 5). God’s purpose lay in a different direction. He had called Israel to be “set apart” from the nations (Lev. 20:26). For Israel, the Lord alone was to be their ruler and provider.

Even more sobering was the Lord’s decision to grant Israel’s request (v. 9). This was not like informed consent when the doctor proposes a treatment with risks and advises the patient of the possible consequences. God’s response was a mixture of prophecy and warning. Israel had demanded a king like all the other nations and that is exactly what they would get. Israel’s first king would prove to be a disaster, as would many who would follow in his wake.

>> Are you frustrated because God has not granted you an important request? It may only be a matter of timing. Or it could be a demonstration of His goodness. We are not always the best judges of what we need. Only God knows that!

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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