Israel Rejects God as King
Taught October 22, 2023
Table of Contents
Watch & Listen
Our lesson this week is the last lesson within the second unit of lessons where we have been taking a look at Israel’s disobedience after the days of Joshua. Our lesson this week takes us to the end of the period of the judges. In this week’s lesson, we are going to see Israel move even more in a direction of a worldly mindset than one that is focused on the Lord.
Israel Wants a King
At the end of the days of the judges of Israel, Israel had grown tired of not being like other nations. This statement is honestly a very sad statement. Why do I say that?
Desiring to be like other nations
I say that because Israel had been chosen by the Lord to be His people! Think about this, God not only had promised them the Promised Land, but the Lord made a covenant with them with the desire for Israel to be a kingdom of priests (Ex. 19:5). So, imagine being chosen by God to be a special treasure in the world but you desire not to be that treasure.
When Samuel, who was a prophet and judge of Israel, had gotten old, he made his sons judges over Israel (1 Sam. 8:1). However, Israel looked at Samuel’s sons and wanted nothing to do with them being judges as Samuel’s sons were not holy men. So, the elders said to Samuel that they wanted a king to reign over them like all the others nations (1 Sam. 8:5).
As I said, this was truly a sad moment for Israel. Firstly, it was sad that Samuel’s son actually did not walk in the way that he walked; it was sad that Samuel actually overlooked the sinful ways of his sons as he went unaware, or just didn’t pay attention, to their ways. And again, it was incredibly sad that Israel wanted to be like sinful nations rather than live up to what God hoped for them. Samuel was troubled with the desires of the elders and he prayed on the matter (1 Sam. 8:6).
While Samuel was displeased and troubled, God told Samuel to heed the voice of the people. Samuel was displeased with the people and God said to him, “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them (1 Sam. 8:7).”
This statement from God shows just how tragic it was that Israel wanted to have a king like other nations. You see, had they been obedient to God’s instructions, they wouldn’t have felt like they needed a king to rule over them. Of course, they would have needed to hear from the Lord, so they would have been just fine with having prophets live among them; they did not need to be like another nation of people!
One of the biggest issues that believers face today is the desire to be like other people; we often covet the lives that others are living. Why so? Many of us, sadly, don’t recognize how wonderful it is that we as God’s children live in fellowship with Him. We look at what others have, specifically those that don’t believe, and if we think they are living better than us, we’ll begin to desire to live like them; we should never think this way.
Giving the people what they want
So, the people’s desires went against the Lord’s desires, do you think that they would get what they desired? The Lord said to Samuel, “heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them (1 Sam. 8:7-9).
So God was going to give the people what they desired. You may wonder to yourself, why would God give the people what they desired if it went against His desires? This is a good question to ask! To answer this question, I want to take a look at what Paul wrote in letter to the Romans.
In Romans 1:28, Paul wrote that those that did not like to “retain God in their knowledge”, were given over, by God, to a debased (reprobate) mind. To make this clear, Paul was stating that when someone has received the word of God – His instructions – but still desires to live as a sinner, God will let them do so. Now, some may think that this is messed up, but God has given all people free choice.
Israel wanted a king after they had been repeatedly warned about going against God and His desires, so the Lord let them have it. Keep in mind what we have seen in recent weeks, when you choose to live in disobedience, in disregard of God’s instructions, His blessings will not come your way.
So, who would Israel choose to be their king? Our lesson opens up by giving us some background information on the man that Israel would choose to be king. We are told about a man who was of the tribe of Benjamin, Jacob’s young son. This man was the son of a “mighty man of power”; he was handsome and had the stature of a king. Who was this man? This man was Saul (vss.1-2).
Our lesson now skips to after Saul was anointed to be king to when Samuel brings him before the people. When Samuel brought Saul before the people, he brought the people together to deliver a very pointed message to them which came directly from the Lord.
God’s message to the people recounted what the Lord had done for them. God recounted how He had brought them out of Egypt and delivered them from the hand of the Egyptians and all the other kingdoms that oppressed them (vss.17-18). Again, Israel should have been grateful for all that God had done for them. In their gratitude, they should have trusted the Lord and been obedient to His words.
Yet, we will see in His pointed message to the people that the Lord stated, “you have today rejected your God, who Himself saved you from all your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said to Him, ‘No, set a king over us (v.19)!’” God doesn’t sound like He was too pleased about this, does He?
Why would God be pleased with the people? What the Lord is saying here should make you take into consideration all those times where you have grumbled and complained about what God has provided and done for you. Do you think the Lord is pleased when you make light of what He has provided you? Do you think the Lord is pleased when you’re ungrateful for all that He has done?
Applauding in their ignorance
You would think that those words from the Lord would have pierced the people in the heart, right? I know that if God said those things to me, I would feel awful! However, when Saul was brought before the people, they saw the man standing taller than anybody and they shouted, “Love live the king (vss.23-24)!”
The people were completely ignorant to what they were doing in their disobedience. You see, the people did not care because they were getting exactly what they wanted. Sometimes, I don’t think we realize that the thing that we desire isn’t what we actually need. The thing you want could be completely unhealthy for you but you couldn’t care less if it pleases the eyes – this was the case for Israel.
So, Israel got what they wanted and they rejoiced with great joy because now they are like all the other nations as they desired. Imagine rejoicing because now you’re like the rest of those that live in sin when God has chosen you from the crowd to be special. When you are the treasure in God’s eye, as all sincere believers are, you should never look to God and wish to be like one who has not been sanctified.
Samuel carried out the rest of his duties for that day and they all returned home (vss.25-26). You can imagine that Samuel was still displeased, but because God allowed this to take place, he remained faithful (obedient). Now, in the last verse of this lesson which is not included in the book, we will see that there was a crowd that did not rejoice with the others; I believe it was a small crowd because scripture calls them “rebels”.
You see, these rebels were not going to go along with the ignorance and disobedience of the rest of Israel. When Saul and the valiant men went home, the rebels shouted out, “How can this man save us?” Scripture tells us that the rebels despised Saul and did not bring him any presents (1 Sam. 10:27).
Now, there is a question that I could pose here but that question veers us into a discussion that honestly would be better served for a bible study, so I wont touch on that thought right now. However, I will go on to say that little was actually accomplished during Saul’s reign. Yes, the people got what they wanted, but Israel wouldn’t truly enjoy success until David was anointed to be their king.
However, in all of the disobedience that we have taken a look at in recent weeks, it’s actually good to see that there were rebels speaking out not in favor of Israel’s disobedience. One thing I do want to say is that there were some that still stood firm in faith during both the period of the judges and the years of the kings of Israel. It was good that they remained faithful because there certainly trying times ahead for Israel due to their disobedience.