If We Only Had a King!

How many times have you heard, said, or thought to yourself “if I only had…?” What is it about being human that we seem to always be looking for the greener grass? We never seem to be content with what we have. Don’t get me wrong. Striving to grow in wisdom, knowledge and spiritual discernment are healthy qualities to seek. It is the pursuit of self-identification, justification and satisfaction by means of a broken world and/or broken people that I’m talking about.

As we have been reading the story of the history of Israel, we have been moving from a period in which God has chosen a people to be His own. He has brought them out of Egypt where they identified themselves as slaves being held captive to freedom where they begin to identify themselves as the people of God.

This has not been an easy transitional journey. They have consistently (intentionally and unintentionally) resisted God’s blessings and interventions along the way. In this period of time, we once again see a people unable to define themselves outside of their physical environment. They find themselves so attached to the world around them that they are blinded and can’t see the God that is working in and among them—a God who loves them, cares and provides for them; a God that has worked wonders in their midst; an invisible God that has become visible; an intangible God who attempts to become tangible to a people who cannot see; and a God who is competing with all the attractions of a visible, tangible but broken world. God is ignored once again. Israel wants to be like the other nations around them. They want a king.

Their failure to recognize God as King is not without consequences. Notice what God says will happen to people who fail to recognize Him as King. A king of their choosing would not provide them with what they were looking for. A king of their choosing would take and not give. A king of their choosing would be as self-centered as those who chose him.

God gave them what they wanted and it wasn’t what they hoped for. They were looking for something to identify themselves with. They were looking for something to add meaning to their lives. They were looking for something that would justify their existence.  They were looking for something that would satisfy their insecurities and establish them as individuals, as a people and as a nation.

They had what they needed all along, but they couldn’t see it. They had a King who provided meaning and purpose.  But, because they lived in a broken world and didn’t realize it, they looked for a King who could not provide what they were looking for.  They had a King who was unchanging, reliable, caring and who could provide the stability that they longed to make real in their lives.

As you read The Story, ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • How do we, as humans created in the image of God, fall into the same trap?
  • What are the barriers to recognizing God at work in our midst?
  • What does this portion of The Story tell us about God?
  • What does this portion of The Story tell us about ourselves?
  • What do we gain emotionally by being like others around us?
  • What makes it so hard to connect with God in the same way we seem to naturally connect with people, places and things around us?
  • What would it take for God to be more tangible, or visible to you personally?
  • What was Israel looking for when they asked for a King?  Did they get what they were wanting?
    • If not, why not?
    • If so, how so?
  • In pursuing earthly rulers and governments, what are we looking for?  What do we want them to provide for us?

There are many other questions we could ask. The following questions are to be answered as you continue to read The Story. One of the dormant themes of the book of Judges is: “there was no King in Israel and everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). After Israel got a King, how were things different for them as a nation, people and individuals? After we achieve all our earthly goals, what do we have and how are we different than we were before we achieved them?