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Samuel was now getting old. He had been leading Israel for many years. But soon the people were going to need a new leader, once Samuel was gone.
Samuel had an idea of what to do about this problem. He appointed his sons to be judges to come after him. That way, Israel would still have leaders.
But there’s something you have to know about Samuel’s sons. They were not Godly men. They didn’t follow in the footsteps of their dad. They took advantage of people, they did bad things just so they could get a little money, and they didn’t judge the people in fairness and justice.
Hmm, what kind of leaders do you think these sons would be? Would the people learn how to follow God if they were following that kind of leader? I don’t think so, either.
To this point God had always chosen who He would walk with as a leader among the people. But, evidently Samuel had not yet learned that true, good leadership comes from God, not from people picking leaders.
After Samuel picked his sons as judges, the elders of Israel came to Samuel and said, “No way! Your sons are not good men. They don’t follow after your Godly ways. They shouldn’t be our leaders.” (They were right, but keep listening to hear their way to “fix” the problem. Their “solution” is even worse than the problem!) They said, “Give us a king to rule us, like the rest of the world. We want to match the other nations of the world.”
Oooo-oooo! This is a bad idea. We should never ever turn to the world’s ways and systems of doing things to try to “solve a problem for God”!
Do you know how most nations in the world get their leaders? Some pick their leader by voting. Some have powerful or rich people who just take over and decide for themselves to be the leader. Sometimes the leader is just the child of the previous leader. The nations of the world always have one person or a few people who have the power and make the decisions for other people.
That’s fine for those nations, but this should not be true of God’s Nation. God is the boss and King. And the leaders of His Nation were meant to be the people that He chose and who were close to Him. So even though the people were right about Samuel’s sons not being good leaders, their idea for “fixing” the problem was waaaay off.
What do you think the people should have done instead when they realized they had a little leadership problem?
Instead of picking someone themselves based on who their dad was, or instead of wanting to do things the world’s ways, do you think instead they could have asked God to provide the gifting and leadership they needed? For sure!
True leadership comes from God, not from men, so asking God to provide for them, was the only good solution to the problem. But they didn’t do that.
But the people had made their minds up that they wanted a man to be king over them like the rest of the world had.
How do you think that made God feel? HE wanted to be their only king.
That was part of His Big Plan. His People were His treasured possession — His Holy Nation. “Holy” means “set apart.” They were supposed to be different from the world. But now they were asking to be like the rest of the world. This was not what God had in mind.
However, God said to Samuel, “Go ahead and do what they ask. It’s not you they’re pushing away. They’re pushing away Me as their king. Just like they have pushed Me away ever since they left Egypt. That’s what they’re doing now, too.”
God was probably pretty sad about their decision to want a man as a king instead of Him. But, as we’ve seen so many times, God stays committed to them… even though He has to take the long way around to get to His Big Plan.
God did tell Samuel to warn the people what having a king would be like. He said, “You won’t like how this king will treat you. He will take your men and make them fight in his army. He will take your women and make them cook his food. He’ll take your servants and your land and your crops and your animals. You won’t like having this king.”
But the people were stubborn. They said, “We don’t care! We don’t care! We want what we want. Give us a king so we can be like the rest of the world.”
So the Lord said again, “Samuel, do what they’ve asked and give them a king.”