“…you shall solemnly forewarn them…”– 1 Samuel 8:9
Before leaving home, the prodigal’s heart was already “far off” and distant from his father. So it was with the people of Israel. Their lives were already separated from God internally. They only needed the opportunity to detach themselves from God’s rule. They would soon find a way to transform a nation closer to their heart’s desire radically.
Samuel’s sons were not unlike Eli’s. In words recorded for us, we see they did not walk in the way of their righteous father. This was just enough reason for the elders to band together and revolt. Their chance had come, and they did not hesitate to capitalize. The cry was not that sin be dealt with and exposed in hopes of repentance. The demand for Israel was for a new rule. This opportunity ushered in fundamental change that the nation of Israel had never experienced before. They demanded a king to rule over them. No longer would they be a beacon of hope under God, they would become “like all other nations” under man. Trust and hope transferred from The Creator to fallible creation leads to a steady decline of morality and, eventually, demise.
We have heard it said, “be careful what you wish for; you might just get it.” God was about to allow a king to rule. However, it did not come without warning. God instructed Samuel to “solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:9). Although they were told of significant taxes and demands required of them by this new regime, the people still pressed forward with hardened hearts.
We see no real change today. God continues to forewarn in His Word what life looks like when we turn ourselves over to Satan. And yet, many hearts remain “far off” and hardened thinking fundamental changes in the law will produce peace. And what of the American Church today? Have we remained a beacon of light and hope, or do we lead the charge in a steady decline of morality? As a believer in Jesus Christ, may our desire be for others to grasp our sleeves and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you” (Zechariah 8:23).