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Israel Requests a King

(1 Samuel 7:15-8:22)

Lesson 5 -- Fourth Quarter 1992
October 4, 1992

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1992, Christian Light Publications

The Israelites did not know a good thing when they had it! After centuries of experiencing God's kingship, they had grown discontented. They despised the old ways, the old system, and the old blessings. They were no longer awed by their uniqueness; they were mortified by it. They were no longer inspired by their calling; they were bored by it. The materialism they lived in and enjoyed scored its final hit-- they could no longer appreciate spiritual reality. Faith became subservient to tangibility and visibility. God was cast out of leadership. They wanted to retain Him, but only in the capacity the heathen reserved for their gods--a good luck charm, not an order giver.

Like the judges preceding him, Samuel had been Israel's prophetic link to God. A human representative of their divine King, Samuel in essence was to Israel what kings were to other nations. Now the clock of Samuel's life was about unwound. Israel wondered about a successor. They knew God wouldn't pick such men as his sons and Israel didn't want them anyway. And since Samuel had not discipled other prophets and judges, who then? Israel could not trust God in the matter. They tossed out Samuel's advice, his sons, and his God. They would take their own way. Maybe we should say they would take the way of the world about them. Either way, they rejected God's leadership, they forsook God. That is how God saw it. That is the way it really was.

Samuel failed dismally as a parent. We could theorize that, in the final analysis, Samuel greatly contributed to Israel's apostasy. Or we could exonerate him of any guilt in Israel's rejection of God. After all, Israel's complaint was against his sons, not against him. So, we could argue that Samuel's sons were largely to blame for this disaster.

How could such a thing happen to Samuel! He had experienced first-hand the disaster of Eli's lax parenting. He had personally delivered to Eli the message of God's judgment. The Scripture does not tell us about Samuel's attitude toward Eli in all this. It is true, however, that we eventually mirror that on which we focus. Perhaps Samuel determined not to repeat Eli's mistakes, focused too much on the negatives involved, and ended up with sons as useless to God as Eli's.

As much as Samuel and his sons may have contributed to the bleak state of affairs that led to the rejection of God, we need to recognize the pivotal reason--Israel's faith was dead. Were this not so, they would have trusted God to provide the next judge. Hadn't God provided Samuel to replace Eli? But they had had enough of God and His system.

Youth is a time of idealism. Whatever you do, you intend to do right. Youth is accutely aware of the mistakes, failures, and shortcomings of others. Youth determines to learn from the mistakes of others and never ever repeat them. This often makes youth a time of criticism and intolerance. This kind of improperly focused idealism leads to failure. One generation is destined to repeat and magnify the mistakes of the preceding generation if that is their focus and fixation.

Young person, don't specialize in the errors of others in a judgmental way. In all humbleness of mind, be instructed by those errors. Don't repeat them and in the process, learn tolerance toward the erring. Keep your eyes on Jesus and on His Word. Keep them off others' failures. Remember, focus determines outcome.

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