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.
PONDER: What “wishes” do you have that, if fulfilled, could lead to a false security or be harmful to your faith?
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• JACOB’S STORY •
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.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS – JACOB AND RAY AT THE COMMUNITY WAREHOUSE (VIDEO)
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]
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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?