Scripture: 1 Samuel 8:1-22
Key verse: (5) “Appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.”
Reflection: How often in our lives do we look at others and think, “I want to be like them.” It can be true for us as individuals. It can be true for churches. It can be true at every level of our existence. According to 1 Samuel 8, it was true for the Israelites. God delivered them from Egypt, provided for them in the wilderness, guided them to the Promised Land, and shaped them into a holy people through the covenant. Now that the tribes have established a tribal confederacy governed by judges the Lord called to lead, they look at other nations ruled by kings and say, “We want to be like them.”
The problem is that’s not who God called them to be. God called them to be a holy people, a people distinct from other nations. They were not to set a king over themselves, because God was their king. But they did not want to answer that call. They wanted to be like other nations. So God said to Samuel, “Give them what they want, and tell them what they’ll get.” Samuel proceeds to tell them the ways of kings. They take and take and take. Seven times Samuel uses the Hebrew verb for “take.” Seven is the number for completeness. Samuel implies the king will take everything from you. In the end, that’s what the kings do. The royal experiment ends in disaster, with Israel taken into exile in Babylon. It all starts here in 1 Samuel 8 when the Israelites refused to answer God’s call for them, but chose to be like other nations.
What is God’s call to you? How have you been uniquely gifted? What wildernesses has God brought you through? Who has God shaped you to be? By answering these questions we get clarity about our unique calling. This can be a powerful antidote to wanting to be like others. Be who God called you to be. That’s what we’re all called to do.
Prayer: “You created us in your image, O God. You have given us gifts and skills and talents and life experiences that shape who we are. Helps us discern who you call us to be. Guard the eyes of our hearts when we are tempted to look at others and long to be like them. Keep us focused on who you call us to be, then give us the courage to respond. Amen.”
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].