As Samuel the prophet was stepping down from his role as judge in Israel, the people demanded a change in the government’s structure. They didn’t trust Samuel’s sons to judge righteously, so they asked instead for a king. We’re told of this episode in I Samuel 8:4-22, and it is quite a remarkable account of how to destroy a God-given governmental system.
The elders of Israel came to Samuel and said, “Now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” That’s a clue right there that they were not listening to God or honoring His ways. Whenever we want to do something simply because it’s what everyone else does, we are on the wrong foundation already.
Their demand displeased Samuel, but when he prayed, the Lord told him to do as they wanted. Why? It was obvious they didn’t want to be obedient and remain in God’s governmental structure. He wouldn’t force them to do so. Yet he told Samuel to warn them of the consequences.
The list of consequences that Samuel gives is rather long, but to summarize: if you get a king, he will take everything of value away from you—your property, your money, even your family. After going through this litany of evil results, Samuel then warns:
When that day comes [when you have become the king’s slaves], you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord will not answer you in that day.
You would think that particular consequence would be enough to make them rethink their foolish request, but instead they answered:
No, we want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.
When it came right down to it, they didn’t really believe Samuel’s warnings. Notice the other rationale besides the desire to be like all the other nations: they want this king to fight their battles for them.
We have the same blindness today. We somehow believe that the government will take care of us and provide everything we need. And America seems to be drifting into the same type of system that now dominates Europe. We are becoming like all the other nations.
We don’t really believe all the warnings.