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Restless for a Ruler

Read 1 Samuel 8:10-22

So Samuel passed on the Lord’s warning to the people who were asking him for a king. “This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. . . . “He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”

But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. “We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.”
(1 Samuel 8:10-11a, 15-20)


Samuel carefully explained all the negative consequences of having a king, but the Israelites refused to listen. Israel was called to be a holy nation, separate from and unique among all others (Leviticus 20:26). The Israelites’ motive in asking for a king was to be like the nations around them. This was in total opposition to God’s original plan. Their desire for a king was not wrong, but their reasons for wanting a king were wrong.

When told by parents that they cannot do something, teenagers often say something like, “But everybody’s doing it.” Then Mom or Dad will quickly respond with, “That doesn’t make it right!” We can easily dismiss the child’s statement to adolescent reasoning and peer pressure, but all of us are susceptible. At times we want something (or want to do something) simply because everyone else seems to have one. Often we let others’ values and actions dictate our attitudes and behavior.

Have you ever made a wrong choice because you wanted to be like everyone else? Be careful that the values of your friends or “heroes” don’t pull you away from what God says is right. When God’s people want to be like unbelievers, they are heading for spiritual disaster.


Ask God to help you do what is right, to live his way, even if it goes counter to what everyone else is doing. Ask God to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, not the image of the world.

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