7th October 2011

Whatever You Want

 Final of Samuel before Saul series from 1 Samuel 8

Listen to them and give them a king.”
1 Samuel 8:21 (NIV UK)

Does God let us have our way?

The answer is yes, often he does. He lets us use our free will to make choices, even though sometimes they are ill-advised. When we do make mistakes, he does not leave us.

1 Samuel 8 is a case in point. Samuel had been the spiritual guide and the circuit judge for Israel for many years. Now he wanted his sons to take his place, but they ended up being corrupt and self-serving. The Israelites did not turn to God for a solution. “Now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have” (8:4). Sometimes we too may want to copycat what others may be doing around us, without thinking through the consequences.

The unhappy Samuel took the concern to God in prayer. God replied: “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” (8:7). The Israelites could have sought God and waited for his response, but instead they took matters into their own hands. They wanted Samuel to bless their solution to their problem. Have you given God your desired answer to your prayers and not waited for what God had to say? It was a little like that. Samuel warned them of all the dangers, explaining how, typically, kings become tyrants. “But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said, “we want a king over us. Then we shall be like all the other nations…” (8:19). Samuel again discussed it all with God in prayer, and God’s reply was more or less to say, “Ok. Let them do what they want. They can have their king”.

The Israelites got their kings, most of whom oppressed them in different ways and few of whom cared anything about God. God, however, spoke to them in their delusion. He pointed out through the prophets that Israel needed to return to him. He promised that the Messiah, Jesus the Saviour, the King of Kings, would come from the lineage of their future king called David. It was this David who wrote about how God is “King for ever and ever” (Psalm 110:16).

As Christians, sometimes we listen to Jesus and follow him. At other times we listen and decide to go our own ways. Even when we make mistakes and demands, God still reaches out to us. He does not abandon us, just as he did not abandon the Israelites. Rather, he continues to express his goodness and kindness to us that we may turn to him in repentance (see Romans 2:4).

Father, help me to listen to you, and thank you that your Holy Spirit  reaches out to me even when I don’t listen. In Jesus’ name.

Study by James Henderson

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