In Samuel 8, an elderly Samuel is nearing the end of his life. During his lifetime the people of Israel have known relative security. The threats from the Philistines have been subdued and no longer attack Israel. Samuel has been their leader and the people look at his sons, Joel and Abijah as unfit to lead. They do not follow God, they are dishonest, accept bribes and pervert justice.
The future must seem uncertain for Israel. How will they fair without the leadership of Samuel? In comparison they look at the nations around them and consider the way in which they seem to have security. They have kings and armies. The have structures and systems which they trust.
It is at this point the people come to Samuel and ask for a king of their own. Samuel is against the idea, but God instructs Samuel to let them have a king if they want one. Their request is granted, but not before he warns them of the downside of having a king. It will cost them. Financially it will cost them. They will lose their sons to serve the king. The best of the land will go to the king. God does not hide from them what this will mean for them.
The people will not be dissuaded and say, “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” Herein lies the problem. They have placed their trust in political systems. Military might. They place their trust in the systems which every other nation does. They think their king, their army, and their political system will give them what they want.
The problem is they should be trusting God. He is their only King. He is the one to lead them, go before and give them victory.
This passage is a reminder to trust God. To let him be our King. No one else. So often when things are not panning out the way we want, or we are fearful about our future, there is a temptation to take things into our own hands. To rely on the systems and structures we know. The ones that everyone else uses. To use lawyers. To get political. To be pragmatic.
None of these are wrong in themselves.
But God invites us into a different reality. A different experience. A life where we place him as our King, and resist the temptation to trust in systems, structures or even self to give us all that we need. This week, as you face things which may unsettle you. and create fear and anxiety in you, remember who is your King.