The problem with doing the same daily readings every year is that you end up reading the same passage on the same day and sometimes when you do you end up having the same thoughts. I say problem, I’m not sure it is a problem really because some messages need repeating – and always will need repeating as long as we live this mortal life. On May 10th last year, I wrote this about 1 Samuel 8: 19-20 as I said then and as I read this morning I felt again this story is heart-breaking. This verse sums up Israel’s continued rebellion against God.
People of Israel (ignoring Samuel): 19 We have decided that we will have a king who will rule over us 20 so that we will be like all other nations and will have someone to judge us and to lead us into battle.
So much wrong in 2 verses. ‘We have decided’ – uhoh when I start off with a declaration like that I am on shaky ground. They say they want three things:
to be like other nations
to have a judge
to have a commander to lead them into battle
God had chosen them to be His very special possession, His chosen people, He had showered them with His protection and love. Their deliverance from Egypt, their conquest of Canaan were just two of the ways He had shown His choice, His selection, His preference for them. They are still His chosen people, we, as Christians, are grafted into that choice. God says of us:
9 But you are a chosen people, set aside to be a royal order of priests, a holy nation, God’s own; so that you may proclaim the wondrous acts of the One who called you out of inky darkness into shimmering light.
Set aside for His purpose, rescued from darkness and given the job of shouting His wondrous deeds to the world – and I still choose to be like the rest of the world…
They wanted a man to judge them – I wonder if that was because they thought a man would understand them better? If a man would take account of their weakness and problems and go easy on them? If a man would hold them to a lesser standard than God? When I look around I don’t see that, I see men judging and too often they are swayed by prejudice, by money, by personal interests – only God is truly just. He is the One who actually knows our weakness and can deal with it.
37 All that My Father gives to Me comes to Me. I will receive everyone; I will not send away anyone who comes to Me. 38 And here’s the reason: I have come down from heaven not to pursue My own agenda but to do what He desires. I am here on behalf of the Father who sent Me.39 He sent Me to care for all He has given Me so that nothing and no one will perish. In the end, on the last day, He wants everything to be resurrected into new life.
This is love, this is mercy, this is the judge I want judging me – One who knows my sin and is willing to step in and take my punishment so that I won’t perish but have a new life. A judge who looks and sees and, because there has to be a penalty, pays it Himself.
They wanted a commander in battle… the Lord of Heaven’s armies wasn’t enough for them. Nor for me when I look around for an example to follow, for advice to take in various situations and look at mortal man rather than the King of kings. Psalm 121 says it so well The Eternal Creator of heaven and earth watches over me and neither slumbers nor sleeps. He has already fought the battle and is victorious.
The fact is that God has always wanted a people who are different. A people who will set the example of lives lived in worship and surrender to Him. The kingdoms, rules, laws of man and this world are going to end but His kingdom will remain for eternity. He wants me and you to walk in the laws and ways of that kingdom now. A kingdom where He sets the tone of love, mercy and compassion underpinned with holiness. A kingdom where He is the judge and we walk in righteous fear and awe of a transcendent yet present King and God. A kingdom where we live in His victory and carry forgiveness, healing and reconciliation as our battle standard. A kingdom where we follow Him in defeating the powers and principalities of darkness bringing instead light and justice, freedom and abundant life.
Are we, am I, living up to that call to be different, to be under His command?