Why did ancient Israel want a king?

In 1 Samuel 8 the Israelites decide that they want a king.  I have sat through a lot of Sunday School lessons on that matter, but they all read the text too naively. The problem is that we believe what the Israelites say to Samuel. Samuel lists off all the things they will suffer if they have a king, but they don’t seem to mind all these horrible consequences, they still want a king. And they say it is just because all the other nations want a king. But that is a paper thin excuse, and we should see through it.

The Israelites will gladly suffer all the things that Samuel said a king would bring upon them. Why? It isn’t to be like the surrounding nations, who all have kings. The real issue is that they don’t want to be led by God and his prophet. They don’t want to hear about repenting. They don’t want their leader to be trying to get them to keep commandments, or reminding them to obey the scriptures. They will suffer all the privations of a king, losing their sons to be his servants and their daughters to be his cooks and consider themselves to have made a good trade in the bargain as long as the guy in charge of them isn’t the guy who tells them what God requires them to be doing with their lives.

The Lord says to Samuel “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them”

That is generally true in the world today. By and large people will happily taken on all the misery of living in the world under the misery the adversary will bring on them rather than repenting and taking on a living prophet as their leader.

 

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