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A Midweek Devotional - Worldliness

From Unfolding Grace:

“The book of Judges ended with the line, ‘In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.’ Israel needs a king.

This is not entirely unexpected. God promised that a descendant of Eve would crush the Serpent’s head — he would defeat evil and restore God’s blessing to our broken world. Genesis shows that this king would come through Abraham’s line, and ultimately through Judah’s tribe.”

Wednesday, April 28th

Larger Portion of Scripture - 1 Samuel 7-11

Focused Passage for Reflection - 1 Samuel 8:1-9

Reflecting on the Text:

The true king would come from Judah, but the first king came from Benjamin. Why? Oh, we can speculate, but speculation is unhelpful. Let’s stick to the main point in these verses and consider the motivation behind the people’s request for a king.

In v. 5, the elders gathered around Samuel and petitioned him, “Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” Again, like all the nations. Now, let’s be fair. Samuel’s sons were doing a poor job. They perverted their office and sinfully abused the people they were called to lead. But rather than rejecting the sinful judges, the elders looked to the nations around them for a better model.

Samuel was not without fault in all of this saga, but the Lord diagnosed the real issue in v. 7. “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.’” The people rejected the Lord by looking to the nations around them as a model for their hope.

Why do you want what you want? What is fueling your desire? Is it your relationship with the Lord and a reverent, passionate desire for His glory? Or, is it what you see around you? We can be tempted to think that this passage is about Godly government. While that is an appropriate and holy desire which we as Christians should be praying for, the main point is more fundamental. The Israelites in 1 Samuel and Christians of today are called by God to be holy…that is we are called to be set apart from the nations around us. We are redeemed by Jesus and are being transformed in His image. As Hebrews 10:14 puts, we have been made perfect and are being sanctified (made holy). This means our desires are not to be shaped by the world but by Jesus.

The Israelites looked around at the other nations and desired what they saw. The extended passage goes out of its way to talk about how tall and handsome Saul was. The contrast will be made clear later when it comes to David, but the point is here: the people wanted what they saw.

Again, how about us? What is shaping our desire? Is it a desire for the holiness of God, or a desire for the ways of the world? The people of Israel failed that day with Samuel, just as we fail every day. The first king was Saul, and as we will see, he was not the final answer. But another king would come, and through his line, the Lord honored His promise to provide the King of kings.

The Lord continued to work, unfolding His plan of grace even through an unholy request from His chosen people. He does the same today, redeeming us despite our lesser desires. So rather than looking to the nations around us, let us look to Jesus and live for Him.

Questions for personal reflection:

  • How are you looking to the nations around you for help rather than to the Lord?

  • How are your desires shaped by what you see in the world rather than by what you read in the Word?

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