Just Like Everybody Else

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

1 Samuel 8:4-5 (NIV)
So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[a] us, such as all the other nations have.”

1 Samuel 8:4-5 (MSG)
Fed up, all the elders of Israel got together and confronted Samuel at Ramah. They presented their case: “Look, you’re an old man, and your sons aren’t following in your footsteps. Here’s what we want you to do: Appoint a king to rule us, just like everybody else.”
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“Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Look, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint us a king to judge us [and rule over us] like all the other nations.” -AMPLIFIED

His-story (God’s Story) shifts its focus back to Samuel for a time. We are told this about Samuel, “Now Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. He used to go annually on a circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, and he judged Israel in all these places. Then he would return to Ramah, because his home was there; and there he judged Israel, and there he built an altar to the Lord.” -1 Samuel 7:15-17 (AMP)

There was a problem though, Samuel was getting old. Because of this he had placed his two sons Joel and Abijah in place as judges, but they were not Samuel. They did not follow in their father’s footsteps. In fact, there was evidence that the two of them were publicly known to be turned aside for dishonest gain, they would take bribes, and they also perverted justice.

Supposedly, because Samuel was getting along in age and because of the dishonesty of his sons the elders of Israel approached Samuel with a request. The true nature of their request came out loud and clear to Samuel though. “You have grown old, Samuel, and your sons do not administer justice the way that you did. Before things worsen, appoint a king to rule us, as other nations have.” -(VOICE)

Samuel was taken aback by their request and took affront. In other words he was quite surprised and disturbed. He felt slighted not only for himself, but God. He had worked so hard to bring this rebellious, wayward people back to God and now they were demanding a king so they could be just like everybody else. “When Samuel heard their demand—“Give us a king to rule us!”—he was crushed. How awful! Samuel prayed to God.” – 1 Samuel 8:6 (MSG)

It appeared that once again the Israelites were trying to remove God as their leader. To have a king would put them on the same level as the surrounding nations. A human king would be a status symbol to all that they had national power and were unified under one head, their king. Wasn’t that what God was already doing for them?

God did not become angry with the Israelites. His response to Samuel’s inquiry was this, “God answered Samuel, “Go ahead and do what they’re asking. They are not rejecting you. They’ve rejected me as their King. From the day I brought them out of Egypt until this very day they’ve been behaving like this, leaving me for other gods. And now they’re doing it to you. So let them have their own way. But warn them of what they’re in for. Tell them the way kings operate, just what they’re likely to get from a king.” -1 Samuel 8:7-9

Be careful what you wish for! They wanted a king so they could be like everybody else; fine they would have a king, but that king would cost them. Samuel gave them a very good perception of what having a king would entail. “So Samuel told them, delivered God’s warning to the people who were asking him to give them a king. He said, “This is the way the kind of king you’re talking about operates. He’ll take your sons and make soldiers of them—chariotry, cavalry, infantry, regimented in battalions and squadrons. He’ll put some to forced labor on his farms, plowing and harvesting, and others to making either weapons of war or chariots in which he can ride in luxury. He’ll put your daughters to work as beauticians and waitresses and cooks. He’ll conscript your best fields, vineyards, and orchards and hand them over to his special friends. He’ll tax your harvests and vintage to support his extensive bureaucracy. Your prize workers and best animals he’ll take for his own use. He’ll lay a tax on your flocks and you’ll end up no better than slaves. The day will come when you will cry in desperation because of this king you so much want for yourselves. But don’t expect God to answer.” -1 Samuel 8:10-18 (MSG)

So you want to be like everybody else? Well, it is going to cost you too. There will be consequences to your choices. Be careful! Scripture is very adamant about what being stubborn and following the crowds can do to us.

* “There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again—it leads straight to hell. Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.” -Proverbs 14:12-13 (MSG)

* “Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.” -Galatians 6:7-8 (MSG)

* “I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” -Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (MSG)

* “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.” -Matthew 7:13-14 (MSG)

Stick with God. He will never steer you wrong and He has your best interests at heart.

My Prayer:
Lord, help me to keep you as the most important priority in my life. I do not want to be a crowd follower. I do not want my focus to be on anyone or anything else, but you. Be number one in my life! Help me to keep my heart and ears in tune to your guidance and direction in my life. I want you to be pleased with me and what I do for you. Help me to choose life!

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