Subscribe in a reader
Back to All Events

1 Samuel 8:1-18, Israel Demands a King

Thursday, October 19

Freedom to Choose

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

This is one of the most heartbreaking stories in the Bible. God has done so much for the people of Israel -- delivered them from slavery, fed and sheltered them in the wilderness, brought them to the promised land, cared for them, set judges in their midst to guide them. And in return, they reject God's rule in favor of a human king. God guides Samuel, who has been faithful to God, to let the people make their own choice, even as they are warned of the consequences of their choice.

Yet this is also one of the most profound ways God shows respect and love to God's people. God could have refused their request and continued to rule by the guidance of judges. But when God gave us life, God gave us the freedom to choose. And we do choose. We make choices every day. Some good, some bad. But our ability to choose is one of the most precious gifts we have. We don't always get to choose what happens around us, but we always have the power to choose how we will respond to what happens.

One of the most difficult things for us to learn is how to let others choose for themselves, too. For some reason, we tend to believe that loving someone means we get to choose for them. How often have you found yourself telling someone you love what to do, how to do it, which decision to make -- all because we know better (or think we do)? And yes, maybe we do know better. Maybe we can see down the road further than they can see. It's still not our choice to make. It's theirs. Even when their choice has dire consequences. Our job is to walk with them, love them, and support them in their choices. They will make mistakes. So will you. Theirs are their mistakes to make, and their consequences to endure. God knew what would happen if the people chose a human king. God let them do it. And God never let them go. God never stopped guiding them. God never stopped loving them.

Narrative Lectionary Text: 1 Samuel 8:1-18

When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beer-sheba. Yet his sons did not follow in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”