Primary Purpose: To call on the congregation to make Christ Lord and King and to avoid the mistakes made by Israel.
In the Bible passage we are studying today, we see the nation of Israel making some fatal mistakes that we can learn much from. Sometimes it is important not to make mistakes.
Read the following examples and consider what would happen if we settled for 99-percent accuracy:
• We would have no phone service for 15 minutes each day.
• At least 1.7 million pieces of firstclass mail would be lost each day.
• 35,000 newborn babies would be dropped by doctors and nurses each year.
• 200,000 people would get the wrong drug prescriptions each year.
• We would have unsafe drinking water three days every year. Some mistakes are almost unbelievable.
Take the case of the bank robber on Los Angeles who told the clerk not to give him cash but to put the money in his checking account. Or the two teenagers who burst into an establishment, ran to the counter, and demanded that the clerk put all the money in a bag.
The puzzled library attendant, who had collected less than $1.00 in fines that day, ducked out and called the police. It seems the youth got confused because the bank and library were a block apart and looked alike. The thieves were apprehended by police and “booked.”
Those are mistakes that people actually made. However, the mistakes in our Bible passage for today come from the book of Samuel.
Just as Eli’s sons had done, Samuel’s sons also took bribes. God did not condemn Samuel for his sons’ actions. Evidently, Samuel did not know about his sons’ actions, or perhaps he knew and tried to correct them. Nearly 30 years had passed since God had given Israel the victory spoken of in 1 Samuel 7. But Israel quickly forgot about the Ebenezer they had dedicated. Once again, they experienced spiritual decay.
When there is spiritual decay, the church tends to become more like the world, using the world’s methods and resources to do God’s work. God gave the Israelites what their hearts desired even though it wasn’t His will. Samuel may have interpreted this as a rejection of his leadership, but, God saw things differently.
Samuel did what we should do; he made it a matter of prayer. He laid out his case before God and shared his heartache with Him. Let’s look at several aspects of this story:
I. ISRAEL’S FATAL MISTAKES
Ellen G. White says that the government of Israel was administered in the name and by the authority of God. The work of Moses, of the 70 elders, of the rulers and judges, was simply to enforce the laws God had given; they had no authority to legislate for the nation. This was, (and continued to be) the condition of Israel’s existence as a nation. From age to age, men inspired by God were sent to instruct the people and to direct the enforcement of the laws.
The Lord foresaw that Israel would want a king, but He did not consent to a change in the principles upon which Israel was founded. The king was to be God’s assistant. God was to be recognized as the Head of the nation, and His law was to be enforced as the supreme law of the land (Patriarchs and Prophets, page 603).
a. Israel wanted to be like the surrounding nations (verse 5). They wanted a man, not God, to lead them into battle. God had called them to be a chosen people who would be His witnesses; instead, they wanted to be like and look like the world. The Israelites also wanted to worship the gods of those around them (verse 8).
But God’s people are to be “sanctified” or “set apart.” We are to look different from the world and not be conformed by it.
b. Although God never let the Israelites down, they rejected His leadership (verses 7, 8). God wants us to make Him king. The Christian life is not a democracy. God is looking for a people who will follow His leadership. We are reminded that “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Tim. 2:13).
c. The Israelites weren’t willing to wait on God’s timing. God was grooming David to be king, but Israel wanted a king before David was ready. So God gave them Saul while He was preparing David.
Sometimes the worst that can happen to us is that we get what we ask for.
II. TRAGIC RESULTS
Ellen White says, “As the people contrasted the course of Saul with that of Samuel, they saw what a mistake they had made in desiring a king that they might not be different from the nations around them. Many looked with alarm at the condition of society, fast becoming leavened with irreligion and godlessness. The example of their ruler was exerting a widespread influence, and well might Israel mourn that Samuel, the prophet of the Lord, was dead. The nation had lost the founder and president of its sacred schools, but that was not all. It had lost him to whom the people had been accustomed to go with their great troubles— lost one who had constantly interceded with God in behalf of the best interests of its people. The intercession of Samuel had given a feeling of security; for ‘the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much’ (James 5:16). The people felt now that God was forsaking them. The king seemed little less than a madman. Justice was perverted, and order was turned to confusion” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 663).
a. Israel failed to experience all that God had planned for them. He wanted to lead them Himself, but they rejected Him. In Exodus 19:5, 6, God said that He wanted the Israelites to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. In Deuteronomy 14:2, He affirms they are a holy people, a treasured possession. (See also Deuteronomy 26:19.)
b. The Israelites experienced a harsh monarchy that led them farther from God. God gave them what they wanted instead of what He wanted them to have. We should be careful what we ask for— we might actually get it (verses 9)!
Is the Lord your king?
General Conference Ministerial Association