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When I was a little girl there was something I wanted more than anything—a station wagon. I don’t mean one for my dolls, but a real one. You see, I was an only child with a single mom. I always felt I was standing outside a candy store looking in the window, face pressed to the glass, meaning that I was aware our two-person family was quite different from everyone else’s. Others had two parents and enough kids to fill a station wagon. So, in my eight-year-old mind, if we could only have a station wagon, we’d be like everyone else.
Israel also stood at the proverbial candy store window. They weren’t looking at families, but nations that, to them, seemed strong, powerful, and wealthy. Those nations had one thing in common—a king. So, it stood to reason that if Israel had a king, they would be all those things as well. But Israel’s short-sightedness went further than just appearances. They wanted a king who would fight on their behalf, win their wars, conquer their enemies, and ultimately bring tribute into their treasury. (1 Sam. 8:20).
They wanted a king who would fight on their behalf, win their wars, conquer their enemies, and ultimately bring tribute into their treasury.
As an adult, I look back at my childish desire and recognize the foolishness of wanting a station wagon. As for looking into the candy store, I’ve since learned that even candy stores can be too much of a good thing. Having family is wonderful, but it also comes with challenges.
Notice that Israel doesn’t ask about the idea of having a king but demands it (v. 5). All of Samuel’s objections did not dissuade them. God gave them a long list of reasons why it wasn’t a good idea, but they pushed forward their idea in spite of His warnings. How interesting that God granted them the desire of their heart knowing full well it wasn’t the best direction (see Digging Deeper below).
How interesting that God granted them the desire of their heart knowing full well it wasn’t the best direction (see Digging Deeper below).
This becomes a lesson for us—several in fact. First, be satisfied with the blessings you have. Next, listen to counsel and count the costs. Last, and most importantly, listen to God and allow Him to lead. If you study the Old Testament you will discover that God wasn’t actually opposed to a king. A king for Israel was foretold long before this, but the plan needed to unfold in God’s time with His purpose (see Gen. 17:6, 16; 49:10; Ex. 19:6; Num. 24:17-19; Deut. 17:14-20].
Following God can be difficult. It is tempting to look over fences, into windows, and across cubicles to want what others have. But you will find renewal when you look into your heart and discover the blessings you have right in front of you each day.
Renew is designed for busy people—for you. This walk through the Bible, from Genesis to the time of King Saul, will stimulate your thinking and refresh your soul.
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My mother never did buy that station wagon I wanted so desperately. She recognized what I did not, that first, we didn’t need a car that big, and second, two people sitting in a car made for six or more would only make us feel smaller.
Interestingly, God, our Heavenly Parent, knew that the demand that Israel made for a king was also unwise, but He allowed them to move forward anyway. Yes, He offered counsel through Samuel as to why it wasn’t a good idea, and that more grief would come from the decision than good, but God allowed them to move forward. But why? If God knew it was a bad decision, why be supportive?
Because it points to the very reason we are in this great controversy between good and evil. God does not force Himself on man. Man is allowed a choice. Guidance is given through His Word and His prophets. God foretells the consequences but allows us to choose our own way. More importantly, God does not abandon us even when we think we know best. Israel made a mistake in going with a king. It was a full rejection of God, but He did not abandon them. What amazing love He has for us, that even in our sin, He stays with us and when we cry for help, He’s immediately there to help, guide, and accept.
Making it Real
For worship today, read Psalm 139:7-13, aloud. Study these verses and if alone, think about what they are saying about God when we make choices that go against Him. If with others or your family, discuss this attribute of God. How meaningful is it that God is with you no matter what?
Respond & Share
Have you ever gone against God’s plan willfully and purposely? How did that work for you? Could you still feel God’s presence in spite of your decision? Share with us in the comments below!
Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being the grandmother of two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus.