Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, “No, but there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
1 Samuel 8:19-20
Israel tells Samuel that they want a king. They don’t want God to rule over them anymore, that’s too unique; too different. They want to be like everyone else. Even when they were warned about all the disagreeable things that the king would do; even when they had it explained that they would be subjugating themselves they wanted to be like everyone else.
I (and, I imagine, every believer) am like this sometimes. Rather than being content with being different, as God promised I would be, I find myself wanting to fit in; to be like everyone else. It’s an insidious desire. It sneaks up on me and I find myself wanting to fit in. The thing of it is that I never really fit in, not even when I try to. What’s worse is that I’ve had excellent teachers over the years who have warned me, as Samuel warned Israel, about the consequences of me trying to be like everyone else.
Christians, like Israel, are different. Israel was a nation whose ruler was God. They rejected that arrangement because it was challenging and they wanted to be like everyone else. Christians are supposed to be ruled by God as well. He tells us to submit to Him and to follow Him. But we don’t. Not consistently. Like Israel, we find ourselves wanting to be like everyone else. We don’t want to battle our sin nature, we want to let it have freedom like the rest of the world does. We don’t want to submit, but rather to have our own head about things. And, like Israel, we suffer when we give in to these impulses.
To be ruled by God is to be ruled by the gentlest, most loving governance possible — bar none. God is, as the psalmist wrote, mindful that we are but dust. He knows our frame; our feebleness and our inability to faithfully perform what we have been commanded. So He gives grace and strength — grace to cover our faults and strength to help our weakness. He leads by example, commanding all who would be obedience to Him to take up their cross and follow Him. Israel wanted a king to go out before them and fight their battles. God was already doing that.
Today; this morning, am I submitting myself to God’s rule and authority or am I trying to be like everyone else? I cannot have it both ways.