As parents, do we give our children what they want, or what is good for them?
1 Samuel 8
When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders.2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”
10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. 22 The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”
Then Samuel said to the Israelites, “Everyone go back to your own town.”
As parents we try to give good things to our children. They may not always like it, like the battle to eat vegetables. They may even come with an alternative and want to eat nothing but chocolate biscuits because apparently that is all that their friends eat! Would we give them what they want?
At the start of today’s passage we see a sad little episode. We don’t know what Samuel’s parenting techniques were like, but it looks rather like his sons have been getting what they want. Unfortunately they were not keeping up their father’s record for justice but were lured by dishonest gain and bribes.
The elders of Israel use this as leverage to ask for a change in leadership. Imagine how God must have felt when Israel, after years of being led by Him, decided they wanted a king because all the other nations had one.
Samuel tries to warn them of what will happen from getting what they want. Kings come at a price, taxes, servitude, property. But no, they want to be like other nations, they want a king to lead them and fight their battle.
And then comes the saddest part, where God, His heart full of a father’s grief, says to give them what they want – “Listen to them and give them a king.”
As we know, the warnings came true. While there was the occasional king that tried to do the right thing, most of the kings led Israel not into victorious battle, but bondage and eventual slavery.
This is want happens when we get our own way and what we want rather than what the Father knows is best for us.
We can want to be like other nations, to fit in with the people around us. We think that a king will lead us to victory, putting our expectations on other people. But the truth is, we may get what we want, will all the side effects. We can become slaves to our needs or the will of others, we can get dragged down from our walk with God.
So let us bring our wants to the Father and find out what He wants for us. Let Jesus be the King over our hearts.
Head: Have at think about things you really want right now. What are the reasons for what you want?
Heart: Take your wants to God in prayer. See if your wants line up with His wants for your life.
Hands: Write a Pros and Cons list for your wants to see what is the true cost of what you want.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for always wanting the best for me. Please help me to put my wants aside and listen to you. Please be the King of my life and lead me in the ways that you have for me. In Jesus Name, Amen
A song to listen to: Blessed Assurance