In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us live to make men free,
While God is marching on!

. . . from the BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We Will Have a King Over Us!

I did something last weekend that I haven't done in almost 40 years: buy a Bible. For many years I relied on the big, hardbound Scofield Reference Bible that I bought in high school, until (and beyond) the point that it was literally falling apart. During most of those years I wasn't much of a Scripture reader; I had my favorite passages, but for the most part used the Bible like people use dictionaries. Some time during the 1990s my wife Melany gave me her softcover Bible, which was a perfect size and weight for carrying about, albeit the print was rather small. I started really reading the Scriptures again, and had this volume all marked up with the passages that most impressed me--until I carelessly left it in a rental car when we went out to Idaho in 2003 for my daughter's wedding. My elder son Robert then gave me a Bible he no longer used. I started over and had that one nicely marked up, and still have it, thank goodness. It has larger print, but is kind of chunky and heavy, and in the last couple of years I fell out of the habit of carrying it with me to work. So, I recently decided to find a Bible for my birthday (55 this week) that has easily readable print and is a good size and weight for carrying. Melany and I dropped into a Christian bookstore last Friday, and I found one! I felt like a kid who's just been given the key to a candy store! Only this is REAL food, for the soul--and infinitely more satisfying than anything one could put in his mouth. There is more wisdom in this book than a human being could digest in a hundred lifetimes--and especially in the King James Version (in my humble opinion), the most beautiful poetry and most moving prose ever written. No wonder it's the foundation of all English literature!

So you're wondering what all this has to do with the title of this post. Well, the first opportunity I had to spend some real time with my new "toy," and not sure exactly where to start reading, I randomly stuck my finger into the pages and just commenced. Where I happened to wade in was 1 Samuel, ch. 8. What a sobering place to begin! I'll set out the chapter in full below--with the most telling portion in bold--as the Word itself is far more effective than any summary I could give:
[1] And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.
[2] Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba.
[3] And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.
[4] Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
[5] 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.
[6] But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.
[7] 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.
[8] According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.
[9] Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
[10] And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king.
[11] And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
[12] And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
[13] And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
[14] And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
[15] And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
[16] And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
[17] He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
[18] And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.
[19] Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;
[20] 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 people of Israel were discouraged with the corruption into which their Judges--men theretofore distinguished by their godliness and wisdom--had lately fallen. They imagined that having a hereditary kingship like other countries would bring them greater happiness and glory. So, they appealed to the last Judge, the prophet Samuel, to name a King to rule them. Samuel knew that this would displease God and eventually lead to much misery for the people, and asked God what he should do. God confirmed that the Israelites were rejecting His leadership in favor of an earthly monarchy, but told Samuel to give them what they wished for anyway, after making clear to them the kind of government they could expect from a king.

Might God and Samuel have a message here for our time, too? What happened in the months leading up to the 2008 Presidential election, and what have we seen since? Didn't millions of Americans tire of the Republican establishment's bankrupt (and largely corrupt) leadership, and find themselves captivated by the charismatic young man with the regal voice, hosts of acolytes, and aura of destiny? Weren't they yearning for the maximum government of a "king" (like they have in Europe, Venezuela, China, and elsewhere) who would "fight their battles" and fix all their problems for them? And in the little more than a year since his coronation, hasn't King Barack I done what a few sage observers warned he would do--take far more than a tenth of our wealth, given it to legions of government workers and his political followers, and done everything he could think of to make us all his servants? (he's certainly put enough "asses" to his work in Washington!)

As the old saying goes, "Be careful what you wish for--you just might get it." Now that we've gotten it, will God turn a deaf ear, as Samuel warned, to our cries for deliverance from the oppression we've brought upon ourselves? Stay tuned . . .

3 comments:

Edwin said...

Blogger ate my comment...
1 more time.
I don't think we are where you fear we are. Kingmen are visible everywhere but patriots are also. That the Kingmen are putting their fingers in their ears and saying "Na,na,na, can't hear you." does not mean it is the truth.

It's A Wonderful said...

Do you remember the little children's story, about the king who ended up walking through the village naked, but didn't realize it? I do believe the same is now happening to Obama. After the silly summit he hosted today at Blair House, it's apparent that he isn't interested in anything but his own opinion. Which, quite frankly, is a good thing. He's disrobing himself in front of the whole world and it aint pretty! A It's obvious that underneath those robes, he's not as endowed as he thinks...I'm speaking of his intelligence, people!

Anonymous said...

WOW--this is a post straight-from-the-heart! You are spot-on with the comparison between the Old Covenant Israelites' desire for a king, and the 'nakedness of the current emperor'!! I couldn't have said it better myself. BRAVO!