Story, Wk. 10 11/13/16—Highland—Meute
The Story: “They Have Rejected Me”
The Story, Chapter 10
Pearl: God condescends to work with us despite our unfaithfulness and lack of wisdom.
Function: To motivate the worshippers to always persevere in conforming to the authority of God in their lives.
Last week in The Story Ruth, the Moabitess, through her proximity to an Israelite family, came to know God. Through her devotion to her mother-in-law Naomi, she found another husband and in the process another God, the God of Israel. Through this family the Lord was working his purposes out, demonstrating his redemptive nature, and always remaining faithful despite the foibles and failures of his people to trust him.
This week you read of Samuel, the great priest and Judge, and Saul, the first king of Israel. The crowning of a human king for the people of Israel was a crisis of epic proportions in the relation between God and his people.
Samuel (the name means “God has heard”) was a spectacular answer to the prayer of a mother. Samuel’s mother was Hannah. She was the wife of Elkanah who also had another wife Penninah. Penninah bore Elkanah many children but Hannah was barren. Even so, Hannah was Elkanah’s favorite wife. This story illustrates well some of the bizarre issues of plural marriage.
1. Penninah was cruel to her “rival” Hannah and ridiculed her right where it would hurt the worst—in her inability to bare children to their husband. Her cruelty was understandable. She bore many children with Elkanah but this husband favored and loved the barren Hannah more than he loved her!
2. So Hannah prayed. She prayed to the Lord to provide a son and if God did this she would dedicate this son to the Lord’s service for life. She vowed to God that she would do this.
a. God granted this prayer and Hannah became pregnant with Samuel (a boy who would be named for the fact that God hears our prayers).
3. When Samuel was weaned at the age of three she did as she vowed to the Lord and took him to the priest Eli to be his servant and God’s servant in the tabernacle. He would be a Nazarite from birth—never having his hair cut or drinking wine or strong drink, just like a judge before him, Sampson.
4. In a time when the Lord’s voice was infrequent, he began to speak to young Samuel.
In the life and career of Samuel God’s purposes were advanced despite the people’s dramatic rejection of God’s Lordship in asking Samuel to appoint a human king over their nation.
The timing of this Chapter 10 in The Story immediately after our Presidential Election is ironic. While there are dramatic differences between a theocratic monarchy and the US democracy there is a word for discerning ears in today’s message.
1. The people had a leader and authority already; it was the Lord God. They lived in a theocracy with God as their “king.”
a. As you’ve seen in the development of a people who were special to God, he was their leader but he raised up people to act as his unique intermediaries: Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and then all of the Judges which included Samuel.
b. Through this arrangement God provided for his people. He delivered them from bondage as slaves in Egypt. He brought them into the land of Promise.
c. Through this arrangement the people continually strayed and disobeyed and showed lack of trust in God but when they cried out to him for deliverance in repentance he displayed his grace and acted to save. Over and over again, God heard their cries and provided.
2. Finally though, in a stunning display of a lack of appreciation for the relationship which they alone had with God, they asked Samuel to inform the Lord that they wanted a change in the arrangement. They were not satisfied with God’s arrangement. Incredibly, they basically asked God to step away from his sole sovereignty over them because they wanted a human king “like the other nations.”
a. That’s right, they literally arrived at the ultimate desire to remove Yahweh as their Supreme Authority.
b. How did God react? How did Samuel react?
i. Samuel was appalled.
ii. God was likely also appalled and dismayed, and certainly much more than one can know, but amazingly permitted their request.
iii. It was as if a point arrived in the relationship between God and his people where they were rejecting him in a way that they might not even have realized. Or maybe they did realize it. This was a stunning development.
c. Samuel knew the gravity of the request. Samuel felt the rejection, even personally. God told him, “They have not rejected you but they have rejected me from being king over them” (I Sam. 8:7).
3. One wonders why it was that they rejected God as their sole authority. Understanding the will of the national spirit is likely as difficult to understand as it is today in any nation. Amazingly God permitted their request. God “permitted it even though he did not approve of it.”
a. God instructed Samuel, “Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them” (8: 8-9).
4. So Samuel did as the Lord instructed. In having a human king like all the other nations…
a. Their sons will be taken from them and put to work in maintaining his chariots, horses, and his fields, and to serve in his armies.
b. Their daughters will be taken and put into service for the king in his courts to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers.
c. The best of their lands will be taken by the king.
d. They will be taxed by giving up one-tenth of their grains and vineyards to the king.
e. The best of their slaves and livestock will be taken from them and given to the king, again giving up one-tenth.
i. Incidentally, one can see how committing one-tenth of your income to the Lord or any significant proportion of your income to the Lord is a definite way of demonstrating your commitment and devotion to the Lord as sovereign over your lives!
5. In a nutshell their request would once again plunge the nation into slavery, the very thing from which God delivered them in the past.
a. Samuel issued God’s warning over what they were asking for, even the part where God said, “In that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day” (8:18).
b. With that stark warning, the people insisted, “No! But we are determined to have a king over us, so that we may also be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight or battles,” a stunning rejection of God as Lord!
c. God did not approve, but God did permit.
d. No nation had what Israel had. They were completely unique. But the people could not see how good they had it and they thought the “grass was greener on the other side of the fence.” They insisted on being like everyone else.
i. This was the fruit of all of their previous unfaithfulness to the Lord God who wanted his people to be his unique people. He wanted them to be “his special people.” In the New Testament the church is referred to as the “Bride of Christ.” They could not see the unique specialness in what they had.
6. Amazingly, God accommodated his people’s audacious stance! Amazing grace! And eventually God redeemed his people’s predicament.
a. God led Samuel to tap the first man who would be king over his people. Saul would be the first one in a long line of men who on the whole did not come close to measuring up to the office that they held. Some were completely corrupt. A few were admirable and good. Most were corrupt failures. One, David, would be the clue to God’s ultimate redemption and rescue of his people. David would uniquely foreshadow Jesus Christ, the ultimate Redeemer, and Lord!
There are no parallels between this ancient monarchy and our modern democracy in the United States. So what word from the Lord might there be for God’s people today about our national life in the midst of a change of leadership? Our nation is about as divided as we could ever be. It is as if there are two Americas. Perhaps the Lord is saying what is recorded in Psalm 146:3–
“Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help. When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.”
Your ultimate faith and trust and allegiance is in no human leader but in God, the only Redeemer, and the Lord God of all. We are still today called to live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. God is working in and through all of his many people of faith and is the true help of all nations.
1. God’s people live under the Lordship of Jesus Christ so we will be called to repudiate injustices which depart from the way of our Lord Jesus Christ. It will mean not only to repudiate such things as racism and prejudice toward Muslims, immigrants, and refuges. It will may mean engaging in acts of compassion and protection and activism.
a. I saw a post about how to help a Muslim person who was being publicly harassed and ridiculed by someone. It suggested actual steps to take to intervene in a compassionate and helpful way.
2. People of faith will be called upon to repudiate sexist and misogynistic attitudes and actions and to take steps to address and right these kinds of wrongs.
3. People of all faiths will be needed more than ever to look out for the poor, the oppressed, and the marginalized.
But people easily forget their God and their responsibilities as his followers and they put their “trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.”
There is one true prince: the Prince of Peace, Jesus the Christ! People today are just as apt to reject God’s Lordship as in Samuel’s career.
In the continuing journey through the Bible, you will continue to see how determined the Lord was to redeem his people and his creation. You will continue to see how the Lord did not permanently retreat from his people despite all of their failure to put faith in God, and despite their rejection of him.
No matter where we are, no matter what we are doing, God desires to realign us with himself. He will go to all lengths to do so. He indeed went to all lengths—in setting aside his glory, he became a human being in Jesus the Christ, in order to bring us back.
No matter how much we try him and test him, and stray from him, he is ready for us to return to him. He is ready for us to conform to his purposes and for us to bow to his reign and Lordship over our lives. He is always calling us by name to live under the Lordship of the true King of all Kings!