Why is it we are never satisfied in life? We are always looking for the next “thing” to bring happiness, contentment, or success. I can remember saying things like, “when we finally get settled, I’ll feel better,” or “when we can finally afford that new car, everything will be okay.” We even hear such lament in our reading. “If only we had a king,” the people are saying.
Samuel had been acting for years as their judge, and before him we read of many other judges in the Book of Judges. Along the way, we sensed the people were wanting a king. In this reading we understand why.
The elders gathered to talk with Samuel. “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” It’s true, Samuel’s sons were not like him. They would probably not be God’s choice to take Samuel’s place. But a king? Was this the right solution?
What we see here is that God gave in. But because God loves his people, he wanted them to at least make an informed decision. So, God instructed Samuel to warn the people what it would look like to have a king. Samuel did a beautiful job of making it sound less than desirable. Didn’t you think?
The people would lose their freedom. With an earthly king in charge, they would be under the rule of another human. We have seen time and time again how power has corrupted leaders. God knew it wasn’t “best” but he was willing to let his children “win” this time. My heart breaks a little for God. He had to be hurt by how they turned their back on him, yet again. God said, “they are rejecting me, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer.”
It was like the people totally ignored all the warning signs Samuel used to persuade them. Their minds were set. “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.” The people had a false belief that a king was a good thing.
Their desire to “be like their neighbors” was clouding their judgment. Haven’t we fallen into the same trap a time or two? What goes through your mind when your neighbor drives up with a shiny new car as yours sits rusting in the driveway? Maybe it’s a co-worker who gets the promotion you wanted. Why aren’t we content with what we have been given?
It all comes back to gratitude. It’s our human nature to want attention, fame, and success. What happened to being grateful for what we have? Why do we always want more? I’m reminded of a meme that says, “What would I have if I woke up tomorrow with ONLY the things I thanked God for today?”
Take some time today to really focus in on what you want in life. Have you been asking God for things, wondering why he isn’t responding? How grateful is your heart for all the blessings he has given you?
Let’s pray …
Heavenly Father, forgive me for focusing more on the accumulation of things and not on the gratitude that overflows my heart for all you have done for me. Help me to be still in this moment and wait for your guidance. Guide the words of my mouth to be honoring to you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.