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    Samuel: “So You Think You Want a King?”

    March 18, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    It is interesting to read the Bible and compare what happened thousands of years ago to what is happening today. Solomon really had a point when he told us there was nothing new under the sun. I’ve read about Samuel a number of times in my life, but it is interesting to read what John Lord had to say because Lord is taking a historical/sociological/political perspective.

    Lord explains that the major observable event in Samuel’s life is the transition of the nation of Israel into a monarchical form of government.

    Through Moses, the people had been given direction and the form of a proper {for their nation} government. But the people had two downfalls that led to their desire for a king: they began to disobey the Lord {their hearts wandered} and also they looked at other nations that had things they wanted {their eyes wandered}.

    My, how this sounds like my beloved native land. As the Christians have lessened in both number and also faithfulness, we have seen our population look around. Look! they say. Canada, Britain, etcetera have socialized healthcare! And also, South Koreans go to school more than our children!

    In the last election, they clamored for a man who would rule them like a king. The candidate who lost was not much better, though upon reflection I said that during the election not realizing how very bad this president would be.


    The people dreamed of a king, for it is not a traditional American president who magically fills gas tanks, who pays for your mortgage, who makes you feel safe in the night.

    Here is what Lord {and the LORD} have to say about a nation’s desire for a king:

    When the people, therefore, under the guidance of so-called “progressive leaders,” hankered for a government which would make them like other nations, and demanded a king, the prophet was greatly moved and sore displeased…There was just cause of complaint. If [Samuel’s] own sons would take bribes in rendering judgment, who could be trusted? Civilization would say that there was needed a stronger arm to punish crime and enforce the laws.

    Most of you know the story. Samuel takes his troubled heart before the LORD, fearing that such a change would be detrimental for the people. John Lord emphasizes over and over that the LORD was going to warn the people, but He refused to take away their free will, even though the consequences would reach into the future for generations.

    The people were going to get what they asked for, but first the LORD warns them:

    Samuel therefore spake unto the people,…”This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for himself for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots; and he shall appoint captains over thousands and captains over fifties, and will set them to ear [plough] his ground and reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and the instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectioners [or perfumers] and cooks and bakers. And he will take your fields and your vineyards and your olive-yards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants; and he will take the tenth of your seed and of your vineyards, and give to his officers and to his servants. And he will take your men-servants and your maid-servants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. And he will take the tenth of your sheep; and ye shall be his servants.

    People who ask for a king are asking for slavery. Only slaves and children are taken care of by someone else. The nation wants to be treated like a child by a kind father, but since they are grownups, it is slaves they will be. Their sons will be forced into the army. The ground will be owned and dictated by the king and his bureaucrats. Their daughters will be forced into careers which serve the purposes of the king. The reign of the king is a direct attack on the proper functioning of the family.

    How do the people respond? They ignore the LORD and demand a king to go out and fight their battles for them. Then Lord writes:

    With all the memories and traditions of their slavery in the land of Egypt, and the grinding despotism incident to an absolute monarchy of which their ancestors bore witness, they preferred despotism with its evils to the independence they had enjoyed under the Judges; for nationality, to which the Jewish people were casting longing eyes, demands law and order as the first condition of society. In obedience to this same principle the grinding monarchy of Louis XIV seemed preferable to the turbulence and anarchy of the Middle Ages, since unarmed and obscure citizens felt safe in their humble avocations. In like manner, after the license of the French Revolution the people said, “Give to us a king once more!” and seated Napoleon on the throne of the Bourbons,–a ruler who took one man out of every five adults to recruit his armies and consolidate his power, which he called the glory of France. Thus kings have reigned by the will of the people…from Saul and David to our own times, except in those few countries where liberty is preferred to material power and military laurels.

    Except, except. This is the key, my friends: except where liberty is preferred.

    My fear is that we’ve now a populace that prefers cradle-to-grave care to liberty. It prefers maintaining not America with borders, but a worldwide empire. It prefers comfort and ease. It prefers the notion that someone out there has authority and is making plans.

    The LORD’s warning still stands. In exchange for having a king, one gives up their liberty. Slaves get cradle-to-grave care, all right, but it’s not exactly what we Americans are accustomed to. We have forgotten our own Egyptian equivalent: We through off the heavy yolk of monarchy once, but now we clamor for a king.

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  • Reply Jeana March 20, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Hey, a picture! I love that I can see what you look like now!

    Yes, and doesn’t it make sense, with the people’s faith and conviction being fairly new, that they are still depending on their own ideas of what would work, rather than trusting God with the unseen?

  • Reply Brandy March 19, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Hello, my MIA blogging friend. 🙂 What a coincidence! I didn’t make that connection about Eli’s sons vs. Samuel’s sons, either. One of the things Lord says about that, which I didn’t put into the quote, is that the people didn’t seem to trust God to take care of Samuel’s sons the way He had Eli’s sons. So there was still some lack of faith there. However, I love your point that the people were finally offended by sin!

    I am loving this book by Lord. E. has a budding interest in politics, and I’ve never really read the Bible through political eyes before, so we are having interesting discussions about basic politics using Biblical history, which is a great foundation, even though I didn’t plan it that way.

    This book is a feast. 🙂

  • Reply Jeana March 19, 2009 at 11:33 am

    Brandy, the kids and I are reading through 1 Samuel right now, so I’m really enjoying these posts. Yesterday something really clicked for me, that I had missed when we read that part of Samuel:

    We talked about how Eli’s sons were corrupt too, and God dealt with that by raising up Samuel and, uh, doing away with Eli’s sons. Why didn’t the people remember this, and trust God to take care of Samuel’s ungodly sons? Reading your post yesterday I saw it: when Eli’s sons were wicked, so were the people, so they didn’t care. Now the people’s hearts had changed some, so it bothered them that Samuel’s sons were wicked, but they went about solving it through their own pragmatism, rather than trusting the system God had set up. (This was what we talked about when we read the chapter.)

    Excellent points today, as always. I’ve got to track down a copy of this book.

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