Like the Nations
“Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” they told Samuel. They were not kindly words nor were they words of loyalty to the God of Israel (1 Samuel 8:7). These were words that stemmed from an attitude still prevalent among some of God’s people today. It is an attitude which is responsible for much of the worldliness in us: the desire to be like everybody else.
Why did they want a king? Well, to be like everyone else of course! (And to have someone fight their battles for them—Vs. 20). Everyone else does it! Why not us too? It’s the fashionable thing these days… However, nobody seemed to ask if the fashionable thing happened to be GOOD for them. Samuel had to ask it for them. He said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants…” Do you get the point? He finishes, “And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day” (1 Samuel 8:11-14, 18). Even after being warned, they still said, “No, but we will have 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 8:19b-20).
Israel did not seem to understand is that they were not like everyone else. They were the special people of God. Time and time again, they gravitated towards being like the nations around them. They were supposed to be different than the nations. They were God’s “special people.” God said in Deuteronomy 7:6, “For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.” This beautiful treasure wanted to be like the dingy, dirty, rusty vessels around them. They eventually became like them!
It is no different for you and me today. Peer pressure isn’t only a “danger to the young people.” It’s a danger for us all. Maybe we want to dress like everyone else in summertime, or speak the same filth as our co-workers. Perhaps we want to hang out in the same places as our “buddies”, or listen to the same music as our “friends.”
As a church, do we desire to be like all the denominations? How many times have so-called, “churches of Christ” fallen single file behind what every other church in town is doing? There’s an old saying that, “It takes the brethren about 30 years, but they catch on!”
Our pining for the world, this desire to be like everyone else, is nothing more than rebellion against God. It’s not good for us, AND it is born out of this wretched forgetfulness that we are the special people of God. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
You are God’s precious treasure—the light of the world—a city set on a hill. Don’t ever forget it!