As Samuel listened to the Israelites, a pang of grief shot through his chest. For as long as he could remember, he had been in service to Jehovah. His mother told him the story each year when she came to visit him, of how he had been given to her by the Lord and why she had given him back to God. The years flew before his eyes in a flash, and he gazed mournfully at the group assembled before him.
He had served faithfully all these years—and they were rejecting Him.
The people said, “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.”
Dejected, Samuel consulted the Lord in prayer. As always, God faithfully responded with an answer. The sound of the Lord’s voice still filled him with a mingling of joy, fear, and awe, even after all these years.
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. According 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. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8.7-9)
Samuel’s heart ached for the Lord’s sorrow far more than his own. God was grieved! He did as God commanded, explaining to the people all the challenges and problems associated with an earthly king. Surely now they would see their foolishness.
But the people said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” (1 Samuel 8.19-20).
The Israelites wanted to be like all the nations surrounding them. They desired a king who would provide them with Security, Happiness, and Pride, not realizing they had rejected the blessings of God through their own pride and disobedience.
Are we guilty of wanting someone or something to care for us besides God?
Do we seek other kings to rule in our hearts so we can be like everyone around us?
The King of Security
This world is an uncertain place so we seek security.
- living in “safe” neighborhoods
- installing security cameras
- carrying a weapon
- carrying insurance (life, health, home, auto)
- Savings accounts
- invest in retirement
- pursue well-paying, stable careers
None of these things are inherently bad. It is wise to save money, particularly for emergencies. It is smart to try to live in a good neighborhood. Carrying insurance is usually required by law, but it is also useful in a crisis.
The question we need to ask ourself is, in what (or whom) do we actually place our trust? Do we count on God to provide security or do we rely solely on our own measures? Do we want earthly security or eternal security? Do we set our spiritual relationship aside in pursuit of a “secure” earthly life?
If Security is your king, disappointment will come. Only in God can we have the security of sure promises, eternal life, and transcendent peace of heart.
“Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
~ Matthew 6.31-34, ESV
The King of Happiness
The second king we seek is The King of Happiness. This is the king that should give us “the good life.”
- A Pinterest-Perfect House
- Amazing vacations
- The perfect spouse
- Favorite foods/drinks/pleasures
- New Stuff (latest tech, a boat, a motorcycle, craft supplies, books, hobbies…)
- A strong and prosperous country
- Good Health
- Doing whatever makes us happy without consequences
There is nothing evil about working toward a good marriage, a restful vacation, or even a nice house. These are pleasant things, but the Happiness King only gives us temporary satisfaction. God alone is able to supply a lasting joy that cannot be stolen or destroyed.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
~ Matthew 6.19-21, ESV
The King of Pride
When pride is king, self is king.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on thing and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
We think too much of and about ourselves and not others–even God! Our pride blinds us to our flaws and magnifies the flaws of others.
Pride comes in many forms, including:
- Believing we control our future (James 4.13-17)
- Rebelling against God’s commandments (1 Samuel 15.22-24)
- Disregarding the needs of others (Philippians 2.3-4)
Do not allow pride to be king in your life. He talks a good talk, but his walk is destructive.
Who or what is your King? Which of these kings are vying for your allegiance, or are all three reigning like a triumvirate?
Samuel kept the Lord as his king in his heart from his youth to his death. The Israelites, by contrast, sought the triumvirate—Security, Happiness, and Pride. Even Saul was not enough for them because he truly couldn’t give them their desires. They rejected God as their king and their lives were all the more pitiful because of their choice.
Keep God as King in your heart. He provides eternal security and joy beyond mere happiness. He deserves to be exalted above anyone and anything on this earth.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
~ 1 John 2.15-17, ESV