“Do as they say,” the LORD replied, “for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer.” - 1 Samuel 8:7
We humans have a great capacity for trusting our own instincts more than God’s principles. We are adept at blocking out divine warnings and no amount of divine prompting will divert the intent soul from the path that most appeals. So God allows his children to go ahead and waits for them to face the reality that he has spoken and that they have ignored.
Toward the end of Samuel’s life, God’s people felt that they were missing out on something good by doing things God’s way. They saw that their neighbors’ religions were much laxer than the worship of Yahweh, and they appreciated the political power and military muscle exercised by neighboring kings. By comparison, the religious and political structures that God had ordained for Israel seemed too demanding on one hand and not secure enough on the other. It was easy to have gods who mirrored all the worst attributes of fallen humanity and encouraged similar behavior from their adherents, as was the case in many of the surrounding nations, but it was challenging and serious to worship the Lord, who called people to holiness of life. It was hard to trust God when the enemies arrived on the doorstep, while it seemed much easier to turn to a human king who could rally a fighting force and rout the enemy.
So Israel indicated that they would like a change. Samuel was upset, because he understood the implications: Israel was turning away from faith in the Lord and choosing self-reliance. “It is me they are rejecting, not you,” the Lord explained (8:7). The Lord allowed Israel to have what they wanted, but warned them of the consequences. Samuel passed on the message, but to no avail. They wanted what they wanted—a human rather than a divine king. And they did not want to be told divine truths about human kings.
Human instincts are not always wrong, but God’s principles are always right. If our instincts flatly contradict divine instructions, our instincts must be jettisoned. The key is to submit our instincts to his scrutiny rather than to impose our intentions over his sovereignty. If we trust him to be our King, we may not always have something visible in which to put our confidence, but we will always have something much better: the eternal, almighty God, who always works for our good.
For Further Study: 1 Samuel 8:1-21
Excerpted from The One Year Devotions for Men, Copyright ©2000 by Stuart Briscoe. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.
For more from Stuart Briscoe, please visit tellingthetruth.org.