READING: 1 Samuel 4-8
If you’ve been reading through the Scriptures with us this year, you know how many times we’ve learned this truth: God is the warrior for the Hebrews. He who led His people out of Egypt would lead them into battle, often throwing their enemies into a panic and gaining glory as He drove out those enemies. Even in the first part of today’s readings, He is the God who is so powerful that the Philistine god Dagon falls on his face before the ark of God, symbolizing that every power must bow before the true God, the one and only warrior for His people (1 Sam 5). It was that God again who “thundered” against the Philistines and threw them into a panic in 1 Samuel 7:10-11.
Still, though, the Hebrews requested their own king in 1 Samuel 8. That request was itself not wrong as long as that king would fulfill God’s expectations in Deuternomony 17:14-20. The problem was that they wanted a king (1) just so they could be like all the other nations and (2) who would “go out before us and fight our battles” (1 Sam 8:20).
Lest you miss the point, read those highlighted words again: they wanted a king to fight their battles. What they seemingly were ignoring was the truth God had already taught them (and we say again here): HE would be their warrior. When they sought a warrior-king, they were essentially dethroning God as their warrior, prefering instead to have a warrior they could see — one whose very presence would not require their faith.
As I teach this text around the world, I usually ask, “Why did the Hebrews want a king?” Almost invariably, people remember the first part — they wanted to be like all the nations — but they forget the second part — they wanted another warrior. Perhaps that’s because we’ve missed this point in general. We are so committed to fighting our own battles that we, too, choose to ignore the One who seeks to be our warrior.
It’s no wonder we keep losing.
ACTION STEPS: Consider these steps:
- Be honest — did you remember the latter reason for the Hebrews wanting a king? If not, write the text down so you hold on to that insight when you face battles.
- One more time, ask God’s forgiveness if you have a tendency to fight your own battles.
- Praise God for being the One before whom all other powers will fall.
PRAYER: “God, You are mighty. No other power can defeat You. Thank You for loving us enough that You keep reminding us of this truth through Your Word.”
TOMORROW’S READING: 1 Samuel 9-12