This past week we were talking with our teenage daughters about where this country is heading. “What I don’t understand,” said our 15-year-old, “is why people can’t see what’s happening around them. People keep asking for more and more intrusive government.”
My husband laughed. “There’s nothing new under the sun,” he said. “The exact same thing happened in the Bible.”
So we looked up the relevant verses and read them out loud to the girls. Consider this edited excerpt from 1 Samuel 8:
When Samuel grew old … all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel. … 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.”
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 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. … 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.”
Samuel … 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. 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. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 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.”
But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 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.”
When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”
Sure enough, the king, Saul, started out as a savior of sorts, but rapidly turned into the type of king about whom Samuel had warned.
In other words, be careful what you wish for. You might just get it.
We’re doing the same thing in America. “We want to be just like Europe!” some people cry. “See how perfect everything is over there! We want a ‘king’ over us. Then we will be like all other nations!”
So we’re choosing a “king” to tell us what to do “just like all other nations.” Our “king” gives us free stuff. He gives us free schools, free cell phones, free housing, free health care, free food … the list of freebies is endless.
And in exchange all we have to do is give up a few minor trifles. We have to give up our children so the king can properly raise them with minimal interference from parents. We have to give up our firearms so theaters and schools won’t be shot up. We have to give up our money so people who haven’t worked in five generations can buy big-screen TVs and smart phones.
The illusion of kingly authority provides an illusion of security, and for some reason people prefer security to freedom. Kings will gladly provide security. It’s in their best interest, of course. We are spied upon for security. We are denied freedom of speech for security. We are denied the means to defend ourselves for security. We turn over our children to public schools for security. We are groped in airports for security.
Folks, we’ve been following the wrong king.
What many people don’t want to admit is America was conceived with the notion of God as the king. The idea was to rule ourselves, with a little help from a constrained and minimal government whose purpose is to safeguard our God-given freedoms, not take them away.
The real King won’t promise any free cell phones, but he can promise a room in heaven. The real King won’t provide food, clothes, housing, education, or health care, but he can promise love, peace of mind and forgiveness.
We realize that it’s up to us to provide our earthly necessities for ourselves, not look to the government. It’s up to us to provide charitably for those who are unable to obtain their earthy necessities due to age, physical/mental limitations, or ill health. It’s not up to the government to steal wealth to provide for those unwilling to work. Only when we put our trust in the correct King do we understand the role of government in our lives.
As government ascends in importance, our reliance on God retreats. We no longer beseech the Almighty for help in achieving our goals. Instead, we turn to Congress to provide us with whatever we don’t want to bother achieving on our own. When we allow an earthly king to regulate us, we surrender the ability to regulate ourselves. But when we follow our heavenly King, then we learn to regulate our own actions. We become a strong, self-disciplined people.
In short, once we put our trust in the right King, a lot of America’s problems would be straightened out. But if we put our trust in an earthly “king,” then “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.”
This week we celebrate the birth of our King as He appeared in the flesh. (Hint: it’s not Obama’s birthday.) I urge you to follow this heavenly King – and accept His free gifts – for the rewards are great. And in addition to reading the second chapter of Luke this Christmas, you might take another peek at 1 Samuel 8 and see what’s in store if we choose to follow the wrong king.
A merry and blessed Christmas to everyone.