“And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.”1 Samuel 8:7
The spiritual wisdom of Israel was so deranged that they could not see the depth of their error in demanding a human king. More, they missed the higher point that they were rejecting God. We are surprised because we think God should have stopped them and demanded adherence to his way. He did not, and that puzzles us.
The Lord allows us to choose our own destiny. His kingdom has existed for all eternity. It is open to the children of men if they so choose. But when men make corrupt choices, the Creator allows them to err. The passage in 1 Samuel 8 is a story about the national destiny of Israel. It is also a story out how God deals with men. Just as the church, the kingdom of God today, is composed of individuals, the nations of earth are also so composed. We should learn from this episode how God deals with us.
God Gives Us Choice
From the beginning of time, man had the freedom to choose. In Eden, God placed a tree of knowledge but commanded the first couple to avoid it. They were not even to touch the tree. Satan intervened and convinced Eve to eat and to give to her husband, Adam. They ate and brought condemnation upon themselves. That condemnation was a choice. They were warned, and they ate anyway. The consequence of their sin followed.
The children of Israel had finally entered the Promised Land. They were settling into their homes. Their leader, Joshua, said, “choose this day whom you will serve” (Joshua 24:13). At that moment, they declared their allegiance to God. History, however, proves otherwise. Israel consistently made terrible choices. Those bad choices included the decision to leave God in 1 Samuel 8 and would include innumerable wicked decisions for centuries to come.
God gave them the power to choose, and they failed.
Men Make Poor Decisions
Inspired Jeremiah says, “I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). He writes: “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). The psalmist says no man does good; all are corrupt (Psalm 14:1-3). The son of the psalmist wrote: “… God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes” (Ecclesiastes 7:29).
The Scripture makes plain that man cannot correctly guide himself. He can depart from God, and he can seek his own ways, but in the end, those ways are always empty and void.
People believe that mankind is the ultimate force in existence. They believe that any question, given time, can be answered through the wisdom and knowledge of man. Today, we make the same error as the ancients. Man cannot guide himself. Man cannot create a government that is capable of bringing righteousness. Once God is eliminated, all is lost.