The Worst Choice Ever Made

The Worst Choice Ever Made

Around the year 1050 B.C. the children of Israel made the most tragic and unwise decision in their history, by placing themselves on the “broad…way that leads to destruction” (Matthew 5:13b). The prophet Samuel (and Israel’s last righteous judge) had grown old and he had passed on his duties to his sons, Joel and Abijah (cf. 1 st Samuel 8:1-2). Holy Writ declares that these two men were corrupt because they “did not walk in his [Samuel’s] ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice” (1 st Samuel 8:3, addition mine). Joel and Abijah’s perversity opened the door that the Israelites had undoubtedly been wanting to open for some time but were unsure of how to do so; until now. Israel’s leadership approached Samuel and spoke, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 st Samuel 8:4- 5). Two pieces of information are vital to establish so we can better comprehend why this request had been slowly simmering in their hearts for a period of time. First, let us recall that all the men who were placed as judges over Israel were not elected nor appointed by them, but “the LORD raised up a deliverer for the children of Israel, who delivered them” (Judges 3:9). Furthermore, these same judges who were appointed by Jehovah God did not gain this leadership position by means of war, social status, nor riches. The plethora of variety that is easily spotted upon putting all the judges side by side proves this truth and reinforces that “God shows personal favoritism to no man” (Galatians 2:6b). Second, we must pay close attention to the fact that the judges God placed over Israel were not RULERS! This crucial distinction means that none of the appointed judges (from Moses to Samuel) were monarchs. Ergo, until then Israel’s system of government was neither a democracy (ruled by officials elected by the people) nor a monarchy (ruled by a king or queen); it was a Theocracy (ruled by God Himself). Our first piece of information already validates that Israel was verily under a Theocracy since it was God who appointed the judges. Furthermore, these judges were upholding the Law of God, which would later be recognized (erroneously) by them as the Law of Moses. God never allowed any of the judges of Israel to add to or subtract from His commandments; they were solely responsible to uphold and guide the people with His laws and ordinances. Therefore, the nation of Israel was being ruled by the God of heaven and earth, the most righteous and wisest King they would ever have. Hence one of the reasons “the thing displeased Samuel” (1 st Samuel 8:6a). It is incorrect to assume that Samuel’s disagreement with their request for a human king was a product of nepotism. Keep in mind that Samuel was not biologically related to the judge whom he replaced, and fully understood that it was by God’s sovereignty that he was placed in this office (cf. 1 st Samuel 3). What did contribute to his displeasure of Israel’s petition is that he felt slighted by them since God explains to His prophet, “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them” (1 st Samuel 8:7). Israel had resisted God as her sovereign ruler ever since she had been freed from Egyptian bondage by Him (cf. 1 st Samuel 8:8,Exodus 32:1ff). It is indeed unfathomable why Israel would reject an omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, and eternal God as her ruler, only to replace Him with a mere man who could (and would) be easily corrupted by covetousness. Yet, the Bible reveals that the train of thought which drove this ungrateful and cataclysmic choice was Israel’s profound desire to be like all of their neighboring nations (cf. 1 st Samuel 8:5, 19-20). In other words, Israel wanted to fit in with the rest of the world and stop standing out amongst them. Curiously, Israel’s logic at this point in time echoes the logic of a teenager who wants to belong to the popular group, so they begin to slowly erase their own identity by imitating the crowd they want to follow. This comparison unveils the immaturity that Israel had woefully remained in, since they were unable to recognize the blessings they had enjoyed with God’s hand on the helm unlike the rest of the nations they were hypnotized by. Rightfully so does the inspired Psalmist lament, “They soon forgot His works; they did not wait for His counsel, but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tested God in the desert” (Psalm 106:13-14). In spite of Israel’s cruel desire, sacred Scripture once more demonstrates the Almighty’s magnanimous nature in His instructions to Samuel. The Bible reads, “Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them” (1 st Samuel 8:9). It is indisputable that the omnipotent God could have held on to His throne unchallenged. Yet, He did not impose His will on His beloved Israel by forcing her to accept Him as her King. Instead, our precious Creator chose not to contend with the fool “for he will despise the wisdom of your words” and graciously stepped aside and gave His final words of caution with the hope that they would repent of this foolish decision (Proverbs 23:9, cf. Proverbs 26:4-5). Samuel obeyed God’s command and thoroughly forewarned Israel of the dire consequences that would assuredly take place the moment the throne was filled by a human man (cf. 1 st Samuel 8:10-18). Israel’s response to Samuel’s warning of their treacherous choice confirms what was briefly mentioned at the beginning of this treatise. Although Samuel revealed to them that a man on their throne would return them to a state of captivity, “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they 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 st Samuel 8:19-20). This portion of Scripture makes evident that their proposal for a king was never because of Samuel’s sons being unrighteous judges, but rather the perfect excuse they needed to push their selfish agenda forward. The true desire of Israel’s heart was uncovered when they refused to heed Samuel’s inspired counsel. Regrettably, Samuel’s words came to fruition exactly as he had forewarned. The next four hundred and sixty-four years of Israel’s history would sadly become its darkest and most turbulent period.

-Obed Pineda


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