Summary: This is the third message in the series "Auto-correcting God."
Today is the third message in the series titled, Genesis 3 made us “smart phones”. “Smart phones” describe who we were before we accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Smart phones can “auto-correct” or change your text messages without your approval – a function first generation cell phones, or dumb phones, did not have.
Auto-correction, as a function, has a legitimate use: to save time by correcting commonly misspelled words. But sometimes what the smart phone auto-corrects is not what the sender intends. Dumb phones send what the sender types, including errors!
The smart phone analogy is one way of looking at how some Christians take God’s Word – the Bible – and re-define it to fit their personal beliefs. God initially designed us to be dumb phones – people who would believe His Word and follow it without doubt and without compromise.
Today, we will examine an event in the life of Saul, Israel’s first king. But first, we will look at a decision Israel made that forever took them out of God’s original will for their lives. Both are examples of the clay telling The Potter, “I know better than you.”
In First Samuel 8, the elders of Israel approach Samuel and tell him they no longer want God to rule over them. Let’s begin with verse 1 and read through verse 5.
“And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his first-born was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beer-sheba. And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.”
What Israel does infuriates Samuel. Let’s continue with verse 6.
“But the thing displeased Samuel...” (The Hebrew said the thing “was evil in the eyes of Samuel.”)
“But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.”
Now what we’re going to read in verse 7 tells us what the children of Israel was really doing by asking for a king.
“And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”
Do you see this ladies and gentlemen? The children of Israel was rejecting the God who brought them out of Egypt. They were rejecting the God who parted the Red Sea for them. They were rejecting the God who fed their ancestors in the wilderness with manna for 40 years. They were rejecting the God the brought down the walls of Jericho!
I can hear the sadness in God’s voice as he talks to Samuel. I can hear the disappointment. I can hear the pain.
So Samuel has a meeting with the heads of the 12 tribes along with other leaders and describes the “taxes” the king will demand from the people. This is found in verses 10-17. But I want you to see their response to Samuel. Jump down to verses 19 and 20.
“Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.”
The children of Israel tell Samuel – well, really the Lord – we don’t want you to lead us. We don’t want you to provide for us. We don’t want you to fight for us. We want to be godless like the other nations and follow someone who is like us.
Israel’s demand for a king exposes what has been in their hearts. Turn with me to Jeremiah 17:5.
“Thus said the Lord; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the Lord.”
The word “departed” means “to turn off, depart, or walk away.” Israel had stopped listening to God long before they demanded a king. Ladies and gentlemen, let that sink in. Israel’s decision was not made in haste. They had been walking away from the Lord, little steps at a time for a long time.
But the Lord makes the best of a bad situation.
We are introduced to Saul in I Samuel 9:2. He’s described as “a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.” In terms of “kingly material” he was the best Israel had to offer at the time.