Question #1: Who is your king?
Who is in charge of your life? Who do you turn to for help and guidance? Who is your king? God’s people had a king. Their king was God. However, they were determined to get another king.
4 So all the Israelite elders got together and went to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “Listen. You are old now, and your sons don’t follow in your footsteps. So appoint us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” (1 Samuel 8)
They ask for a king “like all the other nations have”. If you read the entire chapter, God warns them what will happen. It will not go well for them if they take another king. And yet, the people refused to listen.
19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel and said, “No! There must be a king over us 20 so we can be like all the other nations. Our king will judge us and lead us and fight our battles. (1 Samuel 8)
Question #2: What are your idols?
Not only do God’s people ask for a king, they also raise idols and bring in false gods to worship.
25 Jeroboam fortified Shechem at Mount Ephraim and lived there. From there he also fortified Penuel. 26 Jeroboam thought to himself, The kingdom is in danger of reverting to the house of David. 27 If these people continue to sacrifice at the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem, they will again become loyal to their master Rehoboam, Judah’s king, and they will kill me so they can return to Judah’s King Rehoboam. 28 So the king asked for advice and then made two gold calves. He said to the people, “It’s too far for you to go all the way up to Jerusalem. Look, Israel! Here are your gods who brought you out from the land of Egypt.” 29 He put one calf in Bethel, and the other he placed in Dan. 30 This act was sinful. The people went to worship before the one calf at Bethel and before the other one as far as Dan. (1 Kings 12)
Out of fear, King Jeroboam diverts the people’s attention away from God. King Ahab would later bring in the worship of Baal. False gods and idols became the focus of God’s people. Our false gods and idols may not be as noticeable as these. However, they too can divert our attention away from God.
Where does our time and energy go? What do we trust in more? Where do we turn to find our peace and happiness?
Question #3: Will you follow?
Everyone really has to answer this question with a “yes.” We all follow someone or something, even if it is following ourselves. The question really is, “Will we follow God or something else?”
2 Then the king went up to the Lord’s temple, together with all the people of Judah and all the citizens of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets, and all the people, young and old alike. There the king read out loud all the words of the covenant scroll that had been found in the Lord’s temple. 3 The king stood beside the pillar and made a covenant with the Lord that he would follow the Lord by keeping his commandments, his laws, and his regulations with all his heart and all his being in order to fulfill the words of this covenant that were written in this scroll. All of the people accepted the covenant. (2 Kings 23)
King Josiah calls on the people again to follow God. Here they chose wisely. Unfortunately, more often than not, they did not.
Over and over again, God’s people through Kings proved stubborn and unwilling to listen. They thought they knew what was best. They probably said, “It could never happen to us. We would never stray from God.”
In many ways the book of Kings scares me to realize how easy it is to walk away from God. Here is one specific example for me as we approach the start of the NFL season. I know how excited I will get to watch the games and follow along. Do I show this much excitement towards God? God deserves so much more than I give Him, and yet, He chose to give so much.
8 But God shows his love for us, because while we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5)
As sinners, we too look to other kings. We too bring in false gods and idols into our lives. We are sinners that God needed to rescue, and He did. He does not free us though to continue to live for ourselves.
So what are we going to say? Should we continue sinning so grace will multiply? 2 Absolutely not! All of us died to sin. How can we still live in it? 3 Or don’t you know that all who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore, we were buried together with him through baptism into his death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too can walk in newness of life. (Romans 6)
God, help me not to be stubborn. Help me to be willing to listen. Help me to hear. Thank you for freeing me. Thank you for your grace. Help me to walk in this newness of life.
(All scripture cited above from Common English Bible Copyright © 2011)