Great Britain has spent this past weekend celebrating its Queen. Celebrating her sixty years of faithful service as monarch of this country. Whether you approve of the monarchy or not, you cannot fault her dedication and commitment – well beyond an age when most of us would expect to be taking life easy, or at least doing what we wanted.
In the UK, we understand what it is to have a King or Queen.
After God’s people had emerged from their time in The Wilderness, they had been ruled by Judges, but now they want to be like everyone else – they want a King:
4 One day the nation’s leaders came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said, “You are an old man. You set a good example for your sons, but they haven’t followed it. Now we want a king to be our leader, just like all the other nations. Choose one for us!”
6 Samuel was upset to hear the leaders say they wanted a king, so he prayed about it. 7 The Lord answered:
Samuel, do everything they want you to do. I am really the one they have rejected as their king. 8 Ever since the day I rescued my people from Egypt, they have turned from me to worship idols. Now they are turning away from you. 9 Do everything they ask, but warn them and tell them how a king will treat them.
10 Samuel told the people who were asking for a king what the Lord had said:
11 If you have a king, this is how he will treat you. He will force your sons to join his army. Some of them will ride in his chariots, some will serve in the cavalry, and others will run ahead of his own chariot. 12 Some of them will be officers in charge of a thousand soldiers, and others will be in charge of fifty. Still others will have to farm the king’s land and harvest his crops, or make weapons and parts for his chariots. 13 Your daughters will have to make perfume or do his cooking and baking.
14 The king will take your best fields, as well as your vineyards, and olive orchards and give them to his own officials. 15 He will also take a tenth of your grain and grapes and give it to his officers and officials.
16 The king will take your slaves and your best young men and your donkeys and make them do his work. 17 He will also take a tenth of your sheep and goats. You will become the king’s slaves, 18 and you will finally cry out for the Lord to save you from the king you wanted. But the Lord won’t answer your prayers.
19-20 The people would not listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want to be like other nations. We want a king to rule us and lead us in battle.”
For Samuel, the desire for a king, must have seemed like a personal rejection, but God lets’ him know that it is not Samuel and his leadership they are rejecting, but God’s.
God has always looked after his people, cared for them and even taken them back time and again when they have got things wrong, realised their error, and turned back to him. They had actually never had it so good, but they think it can be better, and so they clamour for a human King. I don’t know whether they felt in need of a leader “with skin on”, someone they could see; or they just thought the grass would be greener on the other side, but a King they wanted. But rather like the Hyenas in The Lion King, they were expecting a king in their image, someone who would do more what they wanted
God tries to warn them that having a king will be anything but. Turning to a human king will have implications for them all – serious ones, but they were adamant,
We want to be like other nations. We want a king to rule us and lead us in battle.
And the rest, they say, is history…
How often do we long for something else? Something easier, something more tangible, to be like ‘all the rest’?
Are we bored of God’s ways, and want to try it another way?
Are there other things we want to be ‘King’ in our lives?
Perhaps we too should be careful what we wish for…
God is a loving, caring God. He welcomes us, forgives us and restores us. He is with us day and night – and actually he does know what is ultimately best.
Could we wish for anything more?
there are times when I assume the grass is greener on the other side,
when I’m sure everyone else is having more fun,
a better life,
an easier way to live;
and I wonder,
would I be better with someone else as King of my life?
But you Lord are the one.
You made the world,
you understand it;
you know me better than I know myself,
and know what will work for me;
you love me,
care for me,
watch over me,
and accept me as your own
– why would I want anyone else?