16 December 2014

1 Samuel 8:4-18

“And the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Listen to 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. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.’” (vv. 7-9)

Psalm: Psalm 34


Fashion's a funny thing. Designers strive for a unique style that sets them apart from every other fashion house in the hope that everyone will buy their product … and all look alike!

In today's passage, the elders of Israel turn on Samuel because they want to adopt the fashion of all the other nations. They are fed up of being a theocracy, ruled by God through prophetic guidance, and want a monarchy.

Samuel is offended because he thinks it's all about him but God shows him the bigger picture: this is another turning away from God, something that Israel has had a habit of doing since "the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day".

So Samuel address the people in a speech that sounds eerily like a prediction of so many times when people put themselves under the authority of an absolute ruler: be careful what you wish for. They are told that a king will take the very best of their children, sons and daughters, and turn them into soldiers and servants; the best land and its produce; the best herds. They will be under the power of this king and no amount of pleading will be able to undo it.

It will be their choice, no one else's.

To Ponder

  • Is it the task of the Church to be counter-cultural or to inculturate the gospel (the good news of Jesus)? Why? (And how might it?)
  • To what extent is this warning against a secular monarchy still relevant today?

Bible notes author

The Revd Gareth Hill

Gareth Hill is a Methodist minister with a particular interest in pioneer ministry and fresh ways of being Church. He is​ in circuit ministry in the Winchester, Eastleigh & Romsey Circuit in the Southampton District and has pastoral charge of six churches in Romsey and on the edge of the New Forest.