restrain my people

Today's devotion from 1 Samuel 8 & 9.

Many thoughts and ideas stand out in 1 Samuel 8 and 9. The fact that Samuel had fallen into the same unhealthy nepotism as Eli takes the wind out of our sails. His description of the tyranny that will overtake Israel if they pursue a monarchy follows. The people's refusal to listen to Samuel's warning, and their insistence on being "like the other nations" is discouraging.

Yet, when we meet Saul we are initially optimistic. He is obedient to his father. He is humble about his origins. He is quick to praise another's idea. It's impressive that he's willing to take the advice of another, especially advice that is offered by one who is apparently a servant. He seems to come from a good family, have a handsome countenance, and a commanding presence.

But there is an issue. Power has a way of changing people. We will see that even with David, a man after God's own heart. This is the reason that Samuel, acting as judge of the people, warns them about the workings of the monarchy. When a king is established, he will take. The people's sons will become charioteers, horsemen, and soldiers. Their daughters will become perfumers, cooks, and bakers. He will take their lands, their produce, and their resources.

This is not just Samuel trying to dissuade the people. This is the reality of what will become the monarchy in Israel. As we will see moving forward, a good many of the kings of Israel were boars. While David would unite all Israel as never before, his grandson will splinter it in ways it had never been divided before.

Yet, the more telling phrase is the way God sees the monarchy. In 1 Samuel 9:17, when Samuel meets Saul, the word of God comes to him saying, "He it is who shall restrain my people." God's perspective on Saul's work as king was to hem in the people.

Ultimately what they were asking for was not freedom or liberty, but a form of authority that would tend toward oppression. Again they misplaced their trust. If they were concerned with injustice, they didn't need a king to replace Samuel's sons. They need to turn toward God. Perhaps this is a lesson even modern believers should learn given the current political climate?