When God Isn’t Good Enough
1 Samuel 8:1-9
1When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. 4Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
In one brief verse we learn that while Samuel was a faithful man of God and skilled leader of God’s people, he was not a stellar father. Here we learn that he was married and had sons, who followed in his footsteps as priests. But just like the sons of Eli, they proved to be faithless. ” … they turned after grain.” Eli’s sons turned after roasted meat and women, but the result was the same. They were not interested in the ways of God, but in their own power and comfort. The people responded poorly. They did not want to be led by Samuel’s sons and who could blame them. But, instead of looking for other godly leaders, the people decided they wanted to look like the other nations around them and have a king.
God’s response to Samuel’s prayers about this situation is heartbreaking. He tells Samuel to give the people what they have asked for because it was not Samuel they were forsaking, but God Himself. Their choice is a bad one and Samuel will have to explain those repercussions to them. But in the moment, it must have been so painful for Samuel (and God!) to experience this rejection. Failure seems to preside.
I admit, I look upon the Hebrews in the moment and want to shake my head in disappointment at their choices. But I make the same kinds of choices all the time. Home many times have I looked at God and thought, ”that’s not the way it should be?” Too many to count. Rejecting God is alarmingly simple. The fact that He allows it is shocking. This puny creation should not have that kind of power over the Creator! But that is how God has designed things. He’s looking for love from His children, not puppets on a string. And that same God of love made a path through the blood of His dear Son that brings me back to His side, despite my rejections. Amazing love.