First Samuel 7:12 adds this note in parentheses: “It was at Mizpah that Samuel became Israel’s judge” (NLT). “Samuel continued as Israel’s judge for the rest of his life” (I Samuel 7:15).
“As Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons to be judges over Israel. Joel and Abijah, his oldest sons, held court in Beersheba. But they were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice” (I Samuel 8:1-3).
In his later years, Samuel called upon his two eldest sons to assist him in serving the people of Israel. Unfortunately, they were nothing “like their father.”
Soon Israel got a bellyful of bad boys Joel and Abijah (not to be confused with other Biblical people with the same names). “Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. ‘Look,’ they told him, ‘you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.’
Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. ‘Do everything they say to you,’ the Lord replied, ‘for it is Me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want Me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned Me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them” (I Samuel 8:4-9).
“It is Me they are rejecting, not you.” The people of Israel didn’t ask Samuel to replace Joel and Abijah with godly judges. They jumped straight in and asked for a king. As the Lord told Samuel, He was the One Israel was rejecting.
All the Lord asked the people to do was obey Him. He didn’t put any harsh demands on them. He was infinitely patient and loving with them. And how did they thank Him? By wanting to be “like all the other nations.”
Folks, if you think the Lord is a harsh taskmaster, you don’t know Him. He loves us so much and has given us His Very Best. Israel found out the hard way that their earthly kings didn’t always have the people’s best interests at heart – to put it mildly.
Like the old saying, “The grass is always greener on the other side,” the Israelites thought life would be better with an earthly king running the show. From the time the kingdom divided into Israel and Judah, there was never a good king over Israel. And, even though the line of David continued to reign in Judah in keeping with God’s promise, their bad kings far outnumbered their good ones.
As with any person or nation who chooses to sin, the results of that sin can be prove to be horrific. Don’t compromise your faith in order to “fit in” with the very people believers shouldn’t be trying to impress in the first place. Pray to resist that temptation and, instead, to stand out as set apart by God for His glory and service.
“No sin is small. It is against an infinite God, and may have consequences immeasurable.” (Jeremy Taylor)
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates