‘But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ”No!” they said. ”We want a king over us.”’ (v19) 1 Samuel 8:19–22

The guidance, ‘Be careful what you ask for’, has a long history. It comes from Aesop’s fables created around 260 BC. Samuel served as Israel’s last judge, and the first prophet after Moses. Despite his wise counsel, the people believed they knew better. They set aside his advice to pursue their desire for a king to rule over them. Samuel, initially irritated, takes his frustration to God, who guides his response. Taking our concerns to God ahead of expressing them publicly is a good principle to follow.

Wisdom teaches that choices made from direct comparison with others misdirect us. The superficial good will conceal many compromises and challenges beneath. Samuel knows of the surrender of personal freedoms appointing a king will require. The people just clamoured for robust leadership, ready to surrender personal responsibility that they didn’t appreciate.

Samuel, having expressed his preference to God, seeks to serve the best interests of the Israelites. God asks Samuel to let go and let God. What was to Samuel a bad decision, was in fact God’s choice. Samuel knew not to stand in God’s way. It was Abraham Lincoln who said, ‘Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be’. Let’s learn to take responsibility for where we find ourselves and seek God there. We might find God knows more than we thought He did.

RELATED SCRIPTURE TO CONSIDER: Psa. 37:1–9; Prov. 13:3–20; Matt. 7:7–12; James 4:1–10.

AN ACTION TO TAKE: Establish the discipline of taking time to consult with God before taking action; and trust God’s advice, like Samuel did.

A PRAYER TO MAKE: ‘Lord, help me to learn to pause and pray before reacting and responding to opportunity and challenge. Amen.’

Photo by joelvalve and Brooke Larke on Unsplash

Micha Jazz is Director of Resources at Waverley Abbey, UK.