Last Sunday we studied 1 Samuel 5 and 6 to understand who or what is worthy of our worship. We found that idols can be physical items worshiped as well as items taking the place of God in a person’s life. When the ark, which represented God’s presence, was placed alongside an idol, God caused the idol to topple. The people understood the event as Dagon being defeated. Because the people of Ashdod failed to recognize God as holy, they experienced a divinely-initiated plague. After 7 months of tumors and rats, the Philistines sought guidance for the return of the ark. When the ark arrived unexpectedly in Beth-shemesh, the people worshiped God by offering sacrifices. Through this lesson we saw (1) that anything we place before or equal to God will fail and topple, with us taking a fall as well. (2) Since God is holy, we should follow His directions completely. (3) God is worthy of our very best in worship.
Today we move on to 1 Samuel 8 where we find the Israelites have decided they want to be ruled by an earthly king. This desire will transition them from a theocracy (government ruled by God) to a monarchy (government ruled by a king).
Read “A King Demanded” 1 Samuel 8:4-5
Why did Israel want a king?
What reasons did the Israelites give Samuel for needing a king?
Was Samuel’s age and his son’s dereliction of duty reasons or excuses for wanting a king?
How can wanting to be like the people around you lead to trouble? God wants us to be more like Him in every area of our lives. The people we want to be like may not be trying to be more like God.
How can peer pressure be a problem? With the Israelites, wanting to have a king like their neighbors was a sinful choice. They were rejecting God’s lordship in their lives.
Look at the question on pg. 46 of your PSG: How does a desire to be like other people impact a person’s values and character? We all want to “fit in” but sometimes we forget God wants us to “fit in” with Him. Fitting in with others may require us to lower our values from God’s standard.
What does it mean to live set apart for Jesus while still living as a member of society?
Moses gave instructions and regulations for future kings in Deuteronomy 17, but having a king was not God’s ideal plan for the Israelites. Israel was privileged in being different from other nations because God was their King. These regulations limited the power and splendor of the future king. He would not be dependent on military power and riches. He was exhorted not to entangle the nation in political alliances that would expose Israel to pagan worship. Instead, he was exhorted to guide the nation into obedience to God’s law. The true king would not be a tyrant, but a king who ruled in accordance with God’s revealed will. By reading and obeying God’s law, the king would be reminded that he was to be a man of the people. He was no different than anyone else, except that God had chosen him to guide the nation in righteousness.
It seems God was anticipating a request for a king by the Israelites and here He is warning them what will happen.
So, we see the Israelites wanting to take matters into their own hands.
Do we ever want to take matters into our own hands instead of letting God lead? Patience! When will we learn to wait and listen for God to speak to us? God’s timing and directions are worth waiting for.
Read “Rejection Declared” 1 Samuel 8:6-9
What was the Israelites’ request? “Give us a king to judge us”.
What did Samuel think of their demand and what was his response? He thought it was sinful so he prayed to the Lord.
What did God think of their desire to be like their neighbors? God saw this as a rejection of His lordship and Samuel’s leadership in their lives.
Do you think God acted with grace in verse 9? He did give them a warning.
How can we distinguish between God’s perfect will and His permissive will? We know God’s will for our lives by studying His Word, praying and seeking the counsel of mature believers. God causes some things to happen. Some things He allows to happen. Nothing happens apart from God’s will.
God is willing to allow His people to make their own decisions, even if those choices are poor and lead to pain and regret.
Read 1 Samuel 8:10-18 to see Samuel’s warning of what would happen if a king ruled over the people.
Basically the king would have the power to confiscate persons and their wealth, as well as the power to give favors to some people while crushing others. The end result was that the Israelites would discover they had no rights at all. Obviously, not every king would follow the principles governing kings as we just reviewed in Deuteronomy.
Pg. 48 of PSG has an intriguing question: What does a believer lose by relying on a human authority more than Christ? How does this relate to today’s world?
Read “Rebellion Determined” 1 Samuel 8:19-22
What was Samuel’s role in Israel’s demand for a king? Samuel was faithful to seek the Lord’s guidance and delivered an unpopular warning. Remember he gave an unpopular warning to Eli a few Sundays ago.
What is the people’s response in verse 19? The people heard Samuel’s warning describing what life would be like with a king instead of God as a leader. Still, they refused to take the next step and heed Samuel’s warning. They were determined to have their own king. What about the times we are determined to have our own way?
What do the descriptions of the desired king reveal about their hearts?
What does God’s allowing Israel to have a king teach us about God? We can hear God’s instructions for living but neglect to take the next step and follow those instructions in daily living.
· God desires His people to be distinct from others, trusting Him in all matters.
· When we reject God’s leaders and their warnings, we are rejecting God in the process.
· We can trust God to provide godly leaders even when we are tempted to take matters into our own hands.
· Ask yourself what is keeping you from giving God full control of your life today.
Close with prayer asking God to bring all areas of your life under His control. Pray for our government leaders to have God’s wisdom in decision making.