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Knee-Jerk Reactions

The people of Israel could see that things were not going well. Samuel was old and his sons were not faithfully following in his steps as judges. They were taking advantage of the people financially and perverting justice (see 1 Samuel 8:1-2). The people’s knee-jerk reaction was swift! They took matters into their own hands and asked Samuel to give them a king.

Why? Hear their words: “We must have a king over us. Then we’ll be like all the other nations: our king will judge us, go out before us and fight our battles. (see 1 Samuel 8:19b-20)

In yesterday’s sermon, Pastor Matt shared with us the problems in the heart behind the Israelites’ request for a king. The first problem was prayerless reaction rather than purposeful prayer. 1 Samuel 8 does not reveal a people who are seeking the Lord in prayer or even asking their trusted priest to pray. Samuel sought the Lord, but he seemingly did that alone. The Israelites were charting a course rooted in their own strength and sinful thinking. A choice that would impact generations to come.

Do you currently find yourself or someone you know facing a difficult circumstance? What emotions have you observed? What would it look like for you to spend time praying and asking God to intervene? I would remind you of Paul’s powerful words to the Philippian church. “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

The second problem was their rejection of God as king motivated by envy and a desire for escape. (see 1 Samuel 8:7) We see people who were looking to their neighbors in jealousy over what they had. If a king was good enough for their pagan neighbors then that must be the best way! They wanted a quick escape and were willing to walk down the path of their choosing to get it. When warned the choice would lead to slavery, the people stubbornly persisted. How sad to think they believed their sinful desire would not create any future difficulty (See Galatians 6:7-9).

What can happen when you are motivated by envy of what others have and you do not? What can be the pitfalls when we choose a quick and easy escape not based on God’s truth? What causes people to believe that the effects of purposeful sin will not be a problem? Friends, remember every thought and opportunity is a moment in time where we can lean into the loving care of our good Father!


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