Be Careful What You Wish For


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.”  1 Samuel 8:6-7

“Be careful what you wish for… you might just get it.” For over 100 years variations of that quip have appeared in books, music, and popular culture. The idea is that we should know that there are often unintended, unpleasant consequences on the other side of our desires. We do not always know what is best for us.

After God delivered the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, he became their king. The people recognized this as they sang: “The LORD reigns for ever and ever” (Exodus 15:18). Several hundred years later came the judges of Israel who were appointed by God and acted as his human agents of rule over the Israelites. The Israelites knew that their wise and godly judge, Samuel, was getting older. All of Samuel’s sons were scoundrels, so they asked for a king. This seemed reasonable enough at first glance, but it grieved both Samuel and God. What was the problem?

First, God reminded Samuel that ultimately they were not rejecting Samuel, but God (“it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king,” vs. 7). Often the things we earnestly wish for and that rule our lives are really ways of resisting God’s leading. Second, their request, “appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have,” revealed that they wanted to be just like the other nations around them and lose their distinctness as God’s holy people. Finally, their wish for a king was a plea for certainty and security. They were substituting faith in God’s rule for what would ultimately be a false kind of security. The outcome of getting their wish was that they would get a king (Saul) who would be a tyrant who would take and take and take (1 Sam. 8:9-18).

Be careful what you wish for… you might just get it. Anything short of God’s reign in our lives can lead to false security, unhealthy conformity, and unexpected consequences that can take and take and take from us.

Tom Keppeler

PONDER: What “wishes” do you have that, if fulfilled, could lead to a false security or be harmful to your faith?


* * *



The oldest of nine children, Jacob left home at seventeen, wishing to be anywhere but there. Everything around him was dangerous and depressing. After two weeks on a park bench, he started selling drugs to provide for his siblings. A few years later, a father himself, he went to prison.

Visions of his grandmother asking what had derailed him and an uncle shaking his head in disappointment haunted his thoughts. He received news that he was the father of a son and fell to his knees asking God to help him change who he was. He wanted more than anything to be present for his children in a way his father had not been for him.

In prison he got his high school diploma, became certified in computer skills, and attended addiction programs. He took parenting classes and read 1,300 books to learn as much as he could to build his résumé.

Once released, he worked hard at getting a job with the goal of going on 100 interviews. If he didn’t have a job after that, he was going to go back to what he knew: selling drugs. His parole officer challenged him to attend a victim’s awareness program. Reluctantly he went. He recognized many of the men in attendance from prison. There he met Ray, a hard-nosed cop who saw in Jacob a desire to change and gave his word to help. Ray tested Jacob’s resolve and both men were slow to trust. Ray introduced Jacob to a place called The Community Warehouse, his 72nd interview. Jacob told them his unvarnished story and offered his résumé. He got the job.

Six years later, Jacob is a married father of four, struggling to be true to the changes God has helped him make. He and Ray have stayed friends. Just days from retirement, Ray called and asked Jacob if he could volunteer his time at The Community Warehouse. Jacob is now his boss.

Elizabeth Murphy


A hard-nosed cop encounters a down and out guy at a support group, and, by the grace of God, an unlikely friendship develops. But it all began with a chase at a drug bust.

[for subtitles, click CC at bottom of video window]
* * *


Being obedient to God can be hard work. The Israelites were tired of listening to God, so they rejected God and decided they wanted an earthly king to rule them instead. We also reject God. It may not be as obvious as declaring someone king over us in God’s place, but subtly we put things before God every day. Imagine how our lives would change if our only allegiance was to God.

Read 1 Samuel 8:1-9 as a family. Why did the people say they wanted a king? When have you disobeyed God because “everyone else was doing it”? What are things in your life that distract you from hearing and obeying God’s voice?

Krista Heinen

See the story of The Community Warehouse.

3 thoughts on “Be Careful What You Wish For”

  1. I do not have ‘”wishes” per se…I do have personal goals that I have to continually pray that they are in the will of God, if not I pray that the Lord will help me let them go…some I still strive toward yet have not fulfilled…I am a work in a time hoping time will continue to work with me! I suppose that is where more prayer and counsel with the Lord should come into action…to be sure. I think I disobeyed God as a teen – I got into drugs because I someone told me it would help me study for a hard test – it only made me stay awake but it made me less shy and introverted and this I liked so began my journey down the wrong path; certainly not the path He created for me! It took turmoil, hardships, lonliness, and sheer brokenness to bring me back to Him and to let Him take the drugs away from me…and He did, I praise Him! Life today still distracts me with fatigue, disappointments, fears, concerns, the daily trials — I can easily be consumed or be connected to His peace…my choice; I call out to Him and He speaks to my soul/spirit to stand still in His peace…to give it all to Him and in those moments I am glorified and equipped to take the next breath and back on the path with Him… This I find is common sense to a successful life… Peace and harmony to all in our Lord Jesus…I hope to meet you all in His Kingdom!

    1. Linda thank you for sharing some of the struggles you went through because of a path not planned of God. I can relate to this growing up and turning to a different type of drug called lust and fantasy. It was a way of trying to cope with the death of my father but also with issues at school. It has been getting to know our Lord and Savior and growing in a relationship with him and other Christians as well that can guide us on paths laid out by our Lord! We may slip off the path every now and then but it is the guidance of the Holy Spirit and tough consequences of our past and the experiences that has been laid out for us by the Israelite’s in their desire to want a king and other great Bible story’s as well!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top
Scroll to Top
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap