Friday, June 29, 2007

On Kings and Rings

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, "You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have."

But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: "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. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do." -I Samuel 8:4-9

Have you ever asked for a king? I have. Not a real king, as the Israelites asked for, but a tangible person or thing that would lead me, rather than following my Savior alone. Let me back up and supply a little context/history for this passage, and I think you'll understand (and perhaps identify) with what I mean.

Up to this point in Israel's history, they have been led by Moses, Joshua, and then a series of judges/prophets, all people who were directly led by God (God's spokespersons, so to speak). This lasts for a couple hundred years, give or take. God speaks to his people and leads them directly. Under the judges, they go through cycles of sin, repentance, and restoration (many, many times), but each time, God restores them to His leadership.

But then we get to I Samuel 8 (above), and the Israelites decide they no longer want God to reign over them, "...they have rejected Me as their king." They want to be like everyone else, " appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have." In order to be like everyone else, they reject God's authority in their lives. (This seems especially grievous in Israel, since the very thing that set them apart was the fact that God had called them out from among the other nations: "For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession." Deuteronomy 7:6)

This is where my life takes on similarities. It occurred to me this past week that this danger of 'asking for a king' is open to us today also. Specifically, as women, we can want a husband/our husband to be our king. But though a husband has specific responsibilities for guidance and leadership in a home, he isn't a king, he doesn't take the place of God's authority in our lives. Single women tend to ask God for a 'king.' Married women tend to view their husbands as their king. But God never releases a believer from direct responsibility to His voice and guidance in his or her life. Our sin natures lead us toward usurping God's authority--that's the very nature of sin--but God's Spirit tells us to be listeners to His quiet voice.

The good news is this: Even when we reject God's authority and ask for something else, God works all things for His glory. David--a man after God's own heart--came to influence as Israel's third king. And from his great line, came yet another king, the ultimate one, Jesus. So even if we’ve messed up and sought other authority in our lives, there’s still hope. There’s always hope in Jesus. Psalm 107 repeats this phrase four times: “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.” A simple ‘restart’ is all it takes to return to the Lord. For believers in Jesus, repentance is always an unlocked door.

I realized Sunday that I had been in danger of asking for a king. It’s not wrong to ask the Lord for a husband; if that is a desire, you should express it to God. But there is a subtle difference of the heart when you substitute the word 'husband' for what you really mean--'king.'

My old nature clamors for a king, my new nature yearns for The King. The din can be overwhelming at times.

More tomorrow.

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