In a fertile river valley lived a tribe of otters. They had no law and didn't need one. Each one did as he liked, and if there was ever a dispute, there was a ranger living upstream who would arbitrate for them. One day, a curious otter went exploring and observed the other animals of the valley. He noticed how the wolves were led by an alpha. The horses, too, and the lions had their leaders. When he told the others about this, they all agreed that having an alpha sounded like a marvelous game. An otter named Snagjaw volunteered for the job.
Life was miserbale under Snagjaw. He took all the pretty females for himself, demanded half of all fish caught and appropriated all the best holts for his own private use. He thought it great fun to make the other otters do this and that, so he made up rules- the sillier the better. He made them all walk upright, wear clothes and shave huge bald patches into their fur. He then decided to have his otters dig the river straight.
At this point, the ranger had to intervene. straightening the river would devestate the ecology. When the ranger spoke to Snagjaw, the otter king would not listen. Instead, he built a scarecrow and dubbed it the new ranger so that he wouldn't have to listen to the old ones.
With the help of the other otters, the ranger captured snagjaw and sent him to the zoo.
In the law, God made provision for the Israelites to have a king. This was not because He wanted them to have one. Not at all. He warned the people that if they had a king, they would be sorry. He would tax them mercilessly, take all the best females and force the males into service. In taking a king, the Israelites were giving up their freedom and getting nothing of value in return. God and the judges had proven themselves sufficient to maintain the union, enact justice, secure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty for themselves and their posterity. At least as long as Israel was behaving itself. Why in the world would they want a king? Apparently, it was a fashion statement.
Seems pretty dumb, doesn't it? Of course it does. Who would willingly give up their freedom for such ridiculously insignificant benefits? A lot of people, actually. Our prisons are filled to overflowing. The drug trade is booming. And the one that would be humerous if it weren't so sad: the world abounds with people who reject God's authority because they have their pride. As I said back in the "7 Deadly Sins" series, your pride is the first thing that needs to go. What good is pride when you're confined to Hell?
God was very hurt and disappointed when Israel asked for a king, but He had known all along that it was coming. So when Israel asked for a king, He gave them someone who would prove His point.
Saul was not a bad fellow. He was a rather decent man at first. Saul's one big flaw is that once he became king, he allowed his ego to get the better of him. He thought that he had the same standing in God's eyes as Samuel the prophet. He offered a sacrifice which he was not authorized to offer. Things went rapidly downhill from there. God punished Saul by allowing a spirit to torment him. He also annointed David to eventually take his place. Because of these things, Saul rapidly descended into paranoid madness. He spent the rest of his life pursuing David and trying to kill him in order to prevent David from taking over the throne. Ironically, it was not a direct act of God which lost Saul his life and his dynasty. Had he been concentrating on the philistines instead of David, his son, Jonathan, a good man beloved by God, might have lived to become king. It was Saul's own selfishness that brought about the death of both himself and his favorite son.
It should be noted that not all of the kings were bad. David was a fine king. Despite some rather egregious sins, God called King David a man after His own heart. Solomon pleased God so much in his early years that God offered him a wish- rather uncommon for God to do. Solomon wished only for the wisdom to lead his people. Because he had wished so unselfishly, God granted him everything he had not wished for. And yet this wondrous king, wiser than any who ever lived, who made silver as common as dirt, who wrote three books of the bible, turned in his later years to idolatry. It was because of him that Israel was split in two during the reign of his son, Rehoboam.
Judah had a few good kings after that. There was Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Uzziah, Jotham, Hezekiah and Josiah. Yet even among these, most of them did something stupid. Hezekiah, for instance. flashed his cash to the Babylonians.
Israel was much worse off. They began with Jeroboam, son of Nebat, who immediately led the country into idolatry. In their entire existance, Northern Israel did not have a single good king. The closest they came was Jehu, who totally eliminated Baal worship in Israel by violent and curiously satisfying means. Yet Jehu turned right around and worshiped the pair of golden calves created by Jeroboam.
In the river of history, these are the rapids. Where Israel had been going through a cycle of turning to God and turning away again, This time they were dimply descending further and further. It would take more than a mere threat to bring them back. God therefore allowed Assyria to come in and take Israel away. Shortly thereafter, Babylon would take Judah. It was because Israel had made the decision to put someone between themselves and God that the nation of Israel was broken and subsequently dismantled. But all is not lost. What the Hebrews did in rebellion, God will turn around and use for good. Instead of a normal human king who would once again lead Israel astray, God will instal as king the one man who actually belongs between God and Man. That king is none other than Jesus, the Messiah. Where other kings led people to Baal and to destruction, Jesus will lead, and even today leads people to the Father and to life.
My challenge to you this week: Is there anything that currently stands between you and God? Is your king the one who facilitates a relationship between you or is it someone or something who interferes therewith? If it's something that keeps you and God apart, you need to have a revolution and depose your king before you get proverbially carried captive to Babylon.
Today's reading: 1 Samuel 8:10-18
10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king.
11 He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots.
12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.
13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.
14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants.
15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants.
16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use.
17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.
18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day."