Voce mea ad Dominum

Random thoughts from an amateur theologist.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Your wish is my command

The people, however, refused to listen to Samuel’s warning and said, “Not so! There must be a king over us. We too must be like other nations, with a king to rule us and to lead us in warfare and fight our battles.” When Samuel had listened to all the people had to say, he repeated it to the LORD, who then said to him,“Grant their request and appoint a king to rule them.” - 1 Samuel 8:18-22a

Samuel was judge over Israel, but when he grew old, he appointed his sons as judges. His sons turned out to be corrupt, and this led to the elders of Israel meeting and calling upon Samuel to replace his sons with a king to judge them "like the other nations." Samuel was perturbed by this because he felt it was wrong, but nevertheless he assented since God told him to obey the wishes of the elders. However, God gave a warning that spelled out the disadvantages of having a monarchy like the other nations. I say disadvantages, but in reality it was more like hardships which would result in Israel crying out to God for relief.

Well, here is the problem. Israel already had a king in Yahweh, their God, but as Israel had done time and again, they rejected him and sought refuge in other gods. They wanted to be like the other nations which surrounded them who worshipped these false gods as well.

God's plan to bring humanity back to him was such that Israel, his chosen people, were to be examples of righteousness for the nations. Through this (in an ideal world), the nations would seek the source of this righteousness and be drawn to God. But Israel rebelled and wanted to imitate the nations surrounding them, the Gentiles. The problem was not in monarchy per se, rather it was in monarchy based on "the other nations." In rejecting God, their true king, Israel was thwarting God's plan for salvation for humanity, but since God is just, he allowed Israel to follow its own desire, but he fully warned Israel by saying something along the lines of, "Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it."

Like Israel of old, we are placed in similar situations in our daily lives. As Israel rejected God over and over after the exodus by turning to the false gods of their neighbors, so we too reject God after our exodus (through the waters of baptism) by turning to "false gods," but instead of turning to Baal, Dagon, or Astarte, we turn to money, alcohol, or power. As difficult as it may be at times, we must fight the urge to serve these false gods and strive to make God our king. The consequences of what or whom we allow to rule our world are as different as night and day. If our desire is to place anything above God in our lives, we have to remember, God is just and will comply with our wish, but in the same way that he warned Israel, he warns us: Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it.

St. Hilary of Poitiers, pray for us.


At 11:16 PM, Anonymous Robby said...

Brian, you've certainly got a nice blog here! I wish I would've caught this earlier. Your latest update is a very poignant reminder to the current body of Christ that God, while jealous for our hearts and minds and bodies, also gives us choice. More than once the analogy of being redeemed is made by Paul and others...that bondage is the old way before the reception of Christ's forgiveness. How backwards the world has it with its legalistic presumptions about Christianity! Of course the consequences for our actions are always present, but when we can reach a point and learn that we have the choice to serve God, not that we are bound, it makes the true believer want to serve even more.


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