God Teaches Israel a Lesson
1 Samuel 8:6-22
1st & 2nd Samuel Lesson #036
December 22, 2015
“Our Father, we are so very grateful we can come together this evening. We are thankful that we live in a country where we have the freedom to study Your Word, to proclaim the truth of the gospel, that salvation is a free gift, that there are no conditions, there are no strings attached, and that the only thing necessary is to trust in Jesus Christ. Trust in His death alone on the Cross, and by our faith alone we have everlasting life.
Father, as we study Your Word and go through a difficult time in the history of Israel, there are many lessons we can learn from this chapter, from these events. But first and foremost is the lesson that we need to trust in You. There are so many ways and so may circumstances when we substitute something as a source of life and meaning other than You. We pray that we might be challenged to reflect more upon our walk with You, our priorities; and as we reflect upon these things to perhaps make some critical decisions about our spiritual life in the coming new year. Father, we pray these things in Christ’s name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles to 1 Samuel 8. We have gone through this and done quite a bit of background work to review. Tonight we should cover the rest of the chapter and look at the lessons God is teaching to Israel in terms of their need to depend upon Him.
The basic lesson that we see is that often God lets us have our head, as it were, and go our own way in order to teach us that we cannot do it our way, that when we are doing it our own way, as in Proverbs 14:12, “there is a way that seems right unto man, but the end thereof is death.”
Often we think that there is course where we can have happiness. We can have meaning and significance and value in life. But when we are not walking in obedience with Him by the Spirit, the end result is always going to be a catastrophe. God gives us the lead. He gives us the freedom to make those bad decisions. And God is going to teach Israel a miserable lesson as a result of what happens in 1 Samuel 8.
In terms of the structure of 1 Samuel, we have seen that it revolves around three people—Samuel, Saul, and David:
- 1 Samuel 1–7 focuses on Samuel as the prophet, priest, and judge of Israel.
- There is a transition that takes place starting in 1 Samuel 8 leading to the rise of Saul. Saul begins to decline after 1 Samuel 15.
- At that point, 1 Samuel 16, David is anointed. We see David’s rise.
In 1 Samuel 8, we have covered the first few points of the setting.
In 1 Samuel 8:1–3, the people reject the sons of Samuel as the next leadership. Samuel has grown old and his sons are corrupt. They pervert the Law. They continue to reflect the culture around them. Remember, we are still in the midst of this toxic culture of the judges. It is moral relativism.
There are so many parallels that we have seen between what is going on in Israel during this time and what is going on in our world today, not only in the United States, but all over the world.
When absolutes are removed, then something has to fill that vacuum. What fills that vacuum is man makes himself the ultimate reference point and the ultimate absolute. Something within creation is worshiped.
As a result of Israel’s rejection of Samuel and his sons in 1 Samuel 8:4–5, the elders gather together to have a meeting with Samuel at Ramah. They request to have a king “like all the other nations.” That is a key phrase, “like all the other nations.” Samuel takes it personally because he sees it as a rejection of him. But he recognizes also that this is a spiritual issue. He shows the pattern that he should take this to the Lord in prayer. The Lord tells Samuel that it is not him who is being rejected. It is the Lord.
In the rest of the chapter, 1 Samuel 8:10–22, Samuel will inform the people of all the consequences and how this will burden them financially. The picture here is that excessive taxation is the punishment. Just think about that for a while. That is what happens financially. When you see a culture going into financial slavery of indebtedness, that is the punishment for bad decisions.
In 1 Samuel 8:19–20, the people reject the warning. It shows how they are dead set on their course of action because arrogance is blinding. As a result of total depravity, when we get enmeshed in carnality and in idolatry, it creates blindness in our souls. They still demand to have a king even though they know what the consequences are.
In 1 Samuel 8:21–22, the Lord tells Samuel to obey their voice. This is a picture of God’s permissive will—what He allows to take place in a society, in a culture, in individual lives because they reject the Lord. As a result, God is going to allow them to reap the consequences.
The key problem here is that they want to have a king to judge them “like all of the other nations,” 1 Samuel 8:5.
Last time I pointed out that what we have in the Scripture, and this is so important to grasp, is that God establishes the divine institutions. There are a number of different frameworks, a number of different grids that we have gone through that help us to evaluate what goes on in the world around us. These divine institutions were established by God. They are social laws, social absolutes, which God built into the very core nature of human creation. The first three divine institutions are as follows:
1. Individual responsibility
We see how this is being rejected again and again and again in our modern political environment. At its very core, any forms of socialism or Marxism are an attack on personal responsibility. It is the attempt to destroy negative consequences for bad decisions, especially in the area of work, labor, and finances.
We have seen that assaulted in ways we could not have imagined 30–40 years ago with the Supreme Court validating homosexual marriage this last summer.
These are the first three divine institutions established in perfect environment. If they are necessary in order to provide for the protection and stability of the human race when there is no sin, how much more significant is it that we protect these institutions when we live in a sinful environment?
The fourth and fifth institutions were established after the Flood:
This is established through the Noahic Covenant with God delegating judicial authority in what is the most extreme judicial situation: adjudicating a situation involving murder and assessing the penalty of capital punishment. If that extreme situation is delegated to man, then all lesser decisions of magistrates flow from that. That has been understood and argued for centuries.
The importance of nations and national distinctions. That means establishing borders, specific territories, national security, and preventing others from entering into a nation in order to protect that national distinction.
Again, we have seen the first three institutions were before the Fall, and the next two after the Fall.
The question, the issue, that comes up in 1 Samuel 8:5 is that they want to have a king like every other king. What kind of king did the other nations have? This is important to understand. I tried to cover this in a couple of points last time, that there are three assumptions that are made on the part of the elders of Israel:
1. They are assuming that a change in government will solve the problems.
They know that the society is in a state of collapse. It has been for over 400 years, during the period of the judges, due to this moral relativism. As we will see again and again, the problem is that they reject God and turn to false gods. Idolatry is at the heart of the whole cultural collapse.
That is the same thing that is true today. We have a rank idolatry that goes on. It is the same root idolatry. It is a rejection of God and worshiping the creature rather than the Creator. They are misidentifying the problem. If you cannot properly identify the problem, then whatever solution you come up with is going to be in error.
That is a critical thing to understand in life, whether you are involved in some situation at work or some problem you are trying to solve. It could be an engineering problem, financial problem, computer problem, social problems, and/or all kinds of different things. There are a lot of people that can correctly identify what the problem is.
Politically you can come up with a number of political leaders who can tell you what the problem is, but the solutions that they offer are really different. Just because somebody can properly identify and clearly articulate what a problem is does not mean that they have a clue what the real solution is.
If you can learn that, whatever field you are in, whatever the circumstances or situation is, that will be a lesson that can go far in life because there are lots and lots of people who can tell you what the problems are, but that does not mean that their solution will hold any water. That is their first assumption. They have a problem, and they think just by changing the government they can solve the problem, but the kind of government they have is not the source of the problem.
2. The second wrong assumption that they are making is that they assume that other nations have it better than they do, because they want to have a “king like all the other nations.”The elders of Israel are assuming that by following another nation’s model that is going to provide a solution.
We have people in this country who genuinely are committed to the fact that if we become more like Europe, if we have more of a so-called Christian socialist form of government, then that will solve our problems.
They are totally blind to the fact that that has not done anything to solve the problems that Europe has. The Europeans are in worse debt than we are. They have worse social problems than we do. They are in much more of a moral morass than we are. But these are not values that are on the radar for pagans, for those who do not have a biblical framework.
This is an assumption that the elders of Israel are making. It is that there is a better government out there, that somehow the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. That is true. The grass may be greener on the other side of the fence, but it still needs to be cut, and some things still need to be painted. That does not mean that their solutions are any better.
3. They are assuming that all human government is created equal, that there is equality there, that the problem is government. We will get another government. Those are all assumptions that they are making here.
As part of the second explanation, the second point last week, I went through two slides. I want to go back over these briefly to show the basic idolatry that is inherent in this rejection of God.
This is the first slide. On the left we have the Judeo-Christian biblical view of God. On the right side we have the pagan view of God. These are basically the only two real options that you have. On the left side at the top you see God as a personal-infinite Creator God.
As I pointed out last time, the fact that God is the ex nihilo Creator is crucial. This is why the doctrine of Creation, the literal Creation of Genesis 1 is such a battle ground, because that becomes foundational to everything that you understand.
We will see that in the next slide. This God is completely distinct from the Creation. This is unique to Christianity: man, animals, vegetation, matter, and energy are all created by God. He rules over them.
On the right side you have the pagan view of ultimate reality—that the universe is an infinite-impersonal universe. It really does not give a basis for identifying the importance of individuality. This whole universe is included within the circle. God, man, and nature are within that circle.
In the ancient world this was viewed as a scale of being or a chain of being, where God is at the top and He has essence. But everything below God participates in that same essence. It is a chain of being. God is not a totally other Creator that is completely distinct.
For example, in the ancient Babylonian and other myths, where you start off in the very beginning with the existence of “something,” there is some sort of animal or mythical creature that exists, and the creation is formed from that creature.
That is not any different from the Big Bang theory where you have pre-existent matter that continues in its existence, then everything develops and evolves out of that. We are all part of the same chain of being. There is no distinct God. This is what separates the Judeo-Christian view of God presented in Genesis 1–11 from all these other pagan deities.
What happens is if you exclude the Judeo-Christian view, then God is just sort of a super man. He is just a bigger man. Man is a smaller version of God. Man can supplant God because he is just the next one up on the totem pole. Man can supplant Him and replace Him with something. That is what is going on here in these pagan ideas of deity and government in the ancient world—that man can become his own god. This is what you see especially in a lot of these eastern religions.
The other diagram I used is this one of the iceberg. The point on this is that this is what is visible. The top 10% of the iceberg is what is visible. When we talk about current issues, when we talk about politics, you see the debates on television—those are the issues that are discussed.
But those issues that are above the surface, those issues that are visible, only reflect something that is below the surface, something that is much, much larger. Those issues are usually ignored and not discussed. But the issues at the top flow from the bottom.
We have a logical sequence that goes from the bottom up. It starts with the foundation for all thought. At the foundation for all thought, we have certain axioms that are assumed. They are not necessarily provable, at least in the sense of logic.
All logical systems start with certain given axioms. Logic begins with our understanding of ultimate reality, which is called metaphysics or ontology. Those are some of the terms used—that ultimate reality is either God, or it is eternal, something impersonal, matter or energy, or it is absolute nothingness.
Whatever you believe is the starting point, and then if you are logical and you develop from that, then you build your system of thought.
The next level is called epistemology—how you know anything. How you know these things depends on your view of ultimate reality. How you come to learn. How you come to know. How you are able to ascertain what is truth or what is error. What is right and what is wrong. What is just or what is unjust. That leads to certain ethical decisions.
When we look at the world, we constantly hear people making comments like “society is unjust,” and “capitalism is so unfair.” Winston Churchill said, “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.”
We make these decisions, but those decisions, right or wrong, just or unjust, fair or unfair, all come out of a question of—how do you know that? Somebody makes a comment and says, “That is so unfair.”
How do you know that?
Where do you get this value of what is fair or what is unfair? According to what standard do you make that kind of conclusion? All of this is below the surface, and above that, we have the kinds of political, national, and individual decisions.
What is happening in this situation in Israel is that they are making an ethical decision. What is that ethical decision? That the sons of Samuel are unjust, corrupt, and perverted. I am not questioning whether they are right or wrong. They are making an ethical decision. How do they know that? They are arguing from a position of not necessarily righteous truth, but from their own culture, their own experience.
The elders of Israel do not like what is going on, and rather than asking a more profound question about what may be causing the collapse in their culture, they are blaming it on the wrong thing. They are blaming it on government rather than on the ethical system, the moral relativism that they have developed because they have rejected God as the Source of their absolutes.
This gives us an understanding of what is going on here in terms of supplanting God with something else. That always comes down to idolatry.
When we ask the question: What kind of king did the other nations have?
You look at Egypt. You look at the Mesopotamian empires. You look at Greece. You look at Rome. Look at all these different kingdoms. They had various gods, polytheistic systems. These gods were all part of nature. There were all these nature gods. They are all part of that scale of being that is there. They are basically creatures of their own imagination.
When you take out God as the King, into that vacuum the state is going to move in. When you look at Egypt—Egypt identified the pharaoh exclusively with the state. Whatever pharaoh wanted, his power was absolute, and he is a divine being. He is viewed that way. It is ultimately religious.
Then you go over to the Mesopotamian kingdoms. They were the same way. They viewed their kings as manifestations of god, sons of god, something related, but the state becomes identified with the person of the monarch, the person of the ruler. The state becomes, in effect, their god. They are worshiping the state.
This is seen in the Roman Empire when the Caesars begin to claim deity for themselves and were to be worshiped as god. That bought about a conflict in early Christianity between Christians who would not declare Caesar to be god.
What happens is that the state, when you throw out God, becomes the ultimate determiner of right or wrong, the ultimate determiner of meaning or value or significance in life, and then claims ultimate authority over the lives of the people.
In the history of this nation, because we understood a theistic framework, a theistic worldview, a biblical worldview that we have founding documents in the Declaration of Independence and in the Constitution that sought to establish and recognize the rights of the individual in this nation as being given these inalienable rights through their Creator, it is no mistake that the writers of these documents clearly understood God as the Creator. God was the One from whom these rights derive.
These inalienable rights did not derive from the state, but what has happened historically over the last 200 years, is that has eroded. This nation has come under continued Satanic assault through the ideas of the enlightenment, the working out of those ideas in terms of what was going on in the 19th century, as they began to reject biblical authority and substitute empiricism and rationalism for biblical authority.
The government begins to grow in terms of its power, and by the end of the 19th century, you begin to see the erosion more clearly in certain Supreme Court decisions. That becomes manifest in the early part of the 20th century. The courts began to determine ultimate truth.
There is a shift that takes place, especially under Oliver Wendell Holmes and other progressive judges in the early part of the 20th century. At the same time you had the rise of progressivism. You have both a conservative progressivism under Theodore Roosevelt, and a more radical progressivism under Franklin D. Roosevelt.
This is what begins to shift the nation. It has an impact that we are feeling today. It just did not change overnight. This kind of attack on the state, using the state as an attack against God, goes back to the Tower of Babel with the kingdom of Nimrod.
When the state starts to grow in its power, it goes into competition with the church. It goes into competition with any system that declares that there is a source of absolutes and a source of right or wrong that comes from outside of creation by which the state itself can be judged.
Once you reach a point where the state itself begins to limit the free expression of religion, of Christianity, then you get into a dangerous situation. This is what started happening and we started seeing this judicially in the 1960s. Since then it has just become worse and worse, but this is the result of a state that does not want to be judged by an external standard and has already rejected the absolutes from Scripture.
Let’s look at a couple of verses. Once you remove God from being the ultimate Ruler, this violates the first commandment of the Ten Commandments. Remember, we are talking about Israel. They are under the Mosaic Law. The first commandment is given in Exodus 20:2–3.
Exodus 20:2, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
One thing we should observe there is that when the Lord defines Himself, identifies Himself, He locates that identification within a historical space-time event. He is the God who brought them out of the land of Egypt, who brought them out of slavery.
What is interesting is that you get into these false systems of idolatry that show up with Aaron building the golden calf while Moses is up on Mt. Sinai, and then later, when the northern and southern kingdoms split in that divinely authorized tax revolt that occurred after the death of Solomon.
Jeroboam recognizes that if all the people of the north and the ten tribes are always going down to Jerusalem to worship God, then that is going to undermine his authority in the north, or he thinks it will. Jeroboam establishes two competing religious centers in the northern kingdom:
- One in the southern part of Samaria in Bethel.
- The other one at the far north at Dan in what is now Tel Dan.
What does Jeroboam do? He has golden calves constructed in both of those locations, just like the golden calf that Aaron built. How does he identify that golden calf? He said this is the god that brought you out of Egypt. It is a definite competition against the God of the Scripture.
The first commandment is in Exodus 20:3, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
God is claiming exclusive authority over Israel. When they say that they want to have another king, another king other than God, they are supplanting God with something else. What they are doing is they are going to make their state, as represented by the king, as the ultimate god, the ultimate source of meaning and happiness.
They are looking to the government to provide security. They are looking to government to provide protection and happiness and stability, rather than looking to God. This is known today as state worship. It is called totalitarianism. It is also called statism.
It takes place whenever a state (and in modern times we have had examples such as Germany under Hitler, Italy under Mussolini, Russia under Stalin, and China under Mao), asserts its authority to the point that the government becomes the ultimate power. It ultimately becomes a god.
Ayn Rand said, “The political expression of altruism is collectivism or statism …” which ultimately goes to some form of socialism. She said this “holds that man’s life and work to belong to the state …” Think about that.
Under statism, man’s life is totally controlled by the state. His work, his production, is ultimately at the disposal of the state. It “… belongs to society, to the group, the gang, the race, the nation—and that the state may dispose of him in any way it pleases for the sake of whatever it deems to be its own tribal, collective good.”
That is a pretty good definition of statism. It is an assault on the first divine institution, which includes labor. It is an assault on individual responsibility and accountability before God, because the state becomes the ultimate arbiter of truth.
The state seeks to control property, wealth, and social policy. The state comes in and starts redefining what marriage is, redefining what a family is, redefining what justice is, redefining what truth is. The government becomes the ultimate source of everything in society.
When it comes down to that, it violates another issue related to the Ten Commandments. That is the eighth commandment which says: Exodus 20:15,“You shall not steal.”
The implication of that commandment is that God recognizes the right of private ownership of property. If you are prohibited to steal, then that is recognition that there is ownership of property—that there are things that are yours and things that are not yours, and you do not have a right to take that which somebody else has purchased or worked for or earned and make it your own.
That is embedded within that eighth commandment, the principle of the right of the individual to enjoy the fruits of his own labor.
The tenth commandment also has this principle embedded in it. Exodus 20:17, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.”
This goes against the basic principle of Bernie Sander’s socialism. Socialism is built on coveting whatever your neighbor has and giving the government the right to steal from those who have produced or earned or created something, and then to give it to someone who has done nothing.
These two commandments, the eighth and tenth commandments, provide the biblical basis for the right of private ownership of property.
What is interesting in Israel is the ownership of property is based in God Himself. God is the ultimate Owner of all of the land. He is the One who owns the land, bestows the land upon the Israelites, and He is the One who determines how to distribute that land. As the ultimate Owner of the land, He alone has the right to control how the property is used, and that is determined via the Mosaic Law. God is able to bestow and recognize individual rights and responsibility for the use of property.
Leviticus 25:23 says, “The land shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine;”He is talking to Israel, “for you are strangers and sojourners with Me.”
In Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.”
When you look at creation from God’s viewpoint—a biblical viewpoint, then the individual has the right of ownership and the right of production. In socialism and Marxism, the state claims to be the ultimate owner of the land.
As a side note, one area in which this breaks down in our American system is that in our system the government has the right to tax property.
If you look at the Mosaic Law there is no property tax. There is a right to taxation that is given the government, but the government cannot tax property because the taxation of property is built on the idea that the state is the owner of the property and has the right to determine how the property is used. This is one of the flaws that we have in our particular system.
We develop a conflict because under the human viewpoint concept of government, the government owns the land. The more power and authority the government has, the more the government tends to view itself as god. In the development of modern statism, and totalitarian governments in the extreme, the government owns the land and ultimately owns and controls the people. Statism is when we give power to the government.
This is what the 10th Amendment is designed to prevent. It is that all of the power, according to the 10th Amendment, that is not specifically given to the federal government, is to be reserved to the states and to the individual. Once you get away from that, then the federal government becomes the plantation owner, and all the citizens are simply slaves on the government plantation, which is where we are today.
This is why it is so important to attack the whole tax code. This needs to be changed. It all accrues to more and more power to the federal government.
The ultimate issue in all of this is religious. It all has to do with either the worship of God or the worship of government, the worship of man. This is where we are today in every nation in this world. We had a 200-year blip in this country that is an exception to the rule of history where we understood that government was completely delegated by God and served under the authority of God.
What we see as a picture of this in the ancient world is that they are doing the same thing. They are going to attribute divine power to man.
1 Samuel 8:6,“But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’ So Samuel prayed to the Lord.”He goes to pray to the Lord.
In this opening line, “the thing that displeased Samuel,” is a pusillanimous way of expressing this. The Hebrew says that this thing was evil in the eyes of Samuel. He identifies this categorically as something that is evil. Evil in the Bible is not just a simple abstract term of something that violates the righteousness of God. It is something that has greater legs to it than that.
A couple of verses from Judges: Remember, this is the same time period in Israel’s history. It gives us the idea of how evil is used predominately in the Old Testament: Judges 2:11, “Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals;”
How is evil used in that passage? It is used in reference to idolatry. Evil is worshipping something other than God. Evil begins with a violation of the first commandment, when we are worshipping something other than God.
Judges 3:7, “So the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God, and served the Baals and Asherahs.”
We see this terminology where they abandoned God and served the idols. We will see that same terminology here in 1 Samuel 8, and then later on when Jeroboam led the divinely authorized tax revolt and the ten nations split off in the north. He then set up the two idols, the golden calves, one in Bethel and one in the north in Dan.
Then God sends Abijah the prophet to confront him and indict him for this idolatry. In the midst of that God says:1 Kings 14:9, “but you have done more evil than all who were before you, for you have gone and made for yourself other gods and molded images to provoke Me to anger, and have cast Me behind your back.”
What is the essence of evil? In this passage the essence of evil is idolatry. It is looking to something other than the Creator–God of the Bible as the source of meaning, happiness, and stability in life. Whenever we substitute anything for God, we are in some form of idolatry.
When the text says that they wanted a “king like the other nations” they wanted to have a government that is identified with a false religious system. That is what their solution is.
When we look at the political landscape today, and when we look at the different options that are being presented, you have to drill down through that iceberg illustration and say:
- What becomes the ultimate source of meaning and stability and security in life?
- Is it going back to God? Or is it going to some element of creation? Or is it going to some element of the government?
That is what we see:
- Are we looking to government to supply what only God can supply?
That is pure idolatry.
In 1 Samuel 8:7, God is going to clarify and identify these issues for Samuel. He makes it very clear.
“And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Heed the voice of the people.’ ” Literally, listen to them. Do what they say to do.
Twice God is going to say this in these verses. He says it in 1 Samuel 8:7, and He says it again in 1 Samuel 8:9. When God repeats Himself, you need to pay attention.
1 Samuel 8:9, “Heed the voice of the people, in all that they say to you; for they have not ejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.”
The main problem that God is saying is not their rejection of monarchy per se. Remember, the final form of government is going to be a monarchy: Jesus is going to return and be established as the Davidic King in Jerusalem.
The final form of government is going to be a monarchy, but it is going to have a perfect monarch, the God-man who is without sin.
The problem here that we see is not a rejection of a theocracy, but it is a rejection of God Himself. It is looking to man and a human government as the ultimate source of stability and of happiness. They are looking to something other than God. They are replacing God and biblical values and biblical norms and standards with those of man. They are rejecting the Creator–God as the source of life and the source of meaning.
1 Samuel 8:8, “According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—.”
Notice how the first commandment and the introduction to the Ten Commandments and again here, and numerous other times in the Old Testament, the pattern of identification of God always goes back to that redemptive work in Egypt.
That is why when Charlie Clough developed his Biblical Framework Series, what he was recognizing was that if you go through the Scripture, there are events that are constantly referred back to in later circumstances:
You have Creation. You have the Flood. You have the call of Abraham, which is referred to again and again throughout the Old Testament and on into the New Testament, and you have the deliverance of Israel from Egypt.
These are crucial events around which everything else in the Bible hangs. You can use an illustration like a clothes closet. You have all your clothes lying on the floor. If you are going to organize your clothes, organize your life, organize your thinking, you have to have key coat hangers. These key events provide the biblical framework on which you hang everything else in the Scripture. You get all your clothes up off the floor and you can organize your thinking and organize your life.
That is what we see here in 1 Samuel 8. God is again referring back to what took place coming out of Egypt that He refers back to this Exodus event as a historical, space/time event. It is not a legend. It is not some sort of poetic fiction.
Remember, I’ve talked about this in the 1 Peter class a couple of times, how you have modern scholars. Usually the evangelicals are not questioning the historicity of the Exodus events. They are going back and questioning to some degree some of the historicity of the Flood or how they are interpreting Genesis 1–3, but God refers to these things as a literal, historical, space/time events.
In 1 Samuel 8:8 we read that God says:
“ ‘According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also.”
Remember, I pointed that out from the passage in Judges. Judges 3:7 says, “They forgot the Lord their God, and served the Baals and Asherahs.”
This is the typical language that is used. It is when you abandon God, you forsake God, and then what happens is that you will automatically serve other gods. The default position is always to worship something other than God as a source of meaning and stability in life.
In 1 Samuel 8:9, God says, “Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.”
The things that are going to be outlined in the coming verses ultimately boil down to economics. I just talked about the situation in Egypt. In Egypt the whole state was embodied in the person of the pharaoh. A lot of that, not all of it, but a lot of that had its roots in what happened during the time of Joseph.
Remember the story of Joseph? Joseph is sold into slavery by his brothers. The Midianite slave traders take him to Egypt. Eventually he gets thrown into prison under a false charge of attempted rape. Then he is finally recognized because he can interpret this dream that the pharaoh has. The dream is a warning that there is going to be seven years of plenty, and then there is going to be seven bad years. The pharaoh elevates Joseph to the second highest position in the land.
There is going to be this terrible famine, so there are seven years of prosperity they can use to prepare for it by storing up grain. The granaries are built in order to provide for the bad years of the famine. By the time you get halfway through the famine, what the text says is that the people are running out of money. They no longer have the ability to buy the grain that has been stored.
The pharaoh enters into a deal. The deal is that in exchange for their land, their ownership of the means of production, the pharaoh will give them food. By the time you come out of that period, all of the land, all of the means of production in Egypt, is owned by the pharaoh. The state now controls everything. It controls all the people from cradle to grave.
What we see here, in the warning that is going to come up, is an abuse of taxes. But I want you to know that there is not an authorization from God to rebel against the king for the abuse of taxation. It is going to get exceptionally bad under Solomon. God is going to authorize, for other reasons, the ten northern tribes to separate. He is judging Solomon for his idolatry. But the abuse of tax is not going to be a basis for rebellion.
This is something I want to point out in terms of the grammar here. You have this phrase, usually translated somewhere along the lines of, “You shall solemnly forewarn them” or you shall seriously warn them, something of that nature. This is an interesting construction in Greek where you combine what is called an infinitive absolute along with the basic imperfect tense of the verb.
The reason I point this out is because in Genesis 2:17 God warned Adam and Eve “in the day that you eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you will surely die.”
That was wrongly translated because of this verb. What you have is two verbs next to each other. One is an infinitive absolute and one is an imperfect tense. It is a Hebrew idiom that intensifies the strength of the verbal action. That is all it does.
Some of you learned this. I learned this. I read it many places that that should have been translated “dying you will die.” That is an abuse of the Hebrew. There was a theological conclusion made from that that there were two types of death indicated there, spiritual death and then physical death.
But that abuses the whole idiom. You would not translate this “testifying you will testify” and think that that is going to be two different kinds of testimony.
This idiom is used on almost every page of the Old Testament. It is intensifying the strength of the verb. The basic verb here is a legal term that means to warn or to testify with reference to stipulations of a covenant treaty.
What is going on here is that Samuel is being told to function in his role as a prophet to represent the Supreme Court of Heaven in bringing a lawsuit against the people and reminding them of the covenant stipulations in the Law. That is what is being indicated here.
It should be translated something like this: “you shall legally testify to them about their obligations related to the covenant and the judgments or the policies or actions of the king who will rule over them.”
This sets the stage. This is a legal courtroom action against Israel warning them legally of what is going to happen and how God is going to bring judgment upon them.
What we see here is that at the end of this warning, God prepares them. He says look, this is what you can expect.
1 Samuel 8:18 says, “And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.” The Lord will not listen to you.
Think about that. A nation or a person makes their own personal decisions. They make their own freewill decisions to take on a course of action. Then when they are reaping the consequences for their bad decisions, for their sinful decisions, God says I am allowing you to reap the consequences of your personal responsibility, and no, I am not going to take it away. These are the consequences. You are going to suffer the condemnation of your own bad decisions.
In this case the heavy hand of the government is the punishment for people’s failure to live according to the first divine institution of individual responsibility. The more a people gives up their personal responsibilities to government (which is what people in this country have been doing for over 100 years), the more the government is going to take, and the more the government is going to control.
Then when we get to the point where we are today, what God is saying is that “you are reaping the consequences of your bad decisions, and no, I am not going to listen to you.”
I am not saying that is what is going to happen in the United States, but that is what happened with Israel.
That is not the end of the story, because what God is going to do is that He is going to give them the desires of their heart, which is Saul as king. They are going to reap those consequences, and finally they are going to turn to the Lord. That is what is going to make a difference.
God is going to first give them the desires of their heart. They are going to be in misery, and then God is going to give them a man who is after the Lord’s own heart.
God spells out the consequences:
1. First of all there is going to be a military conscription by the king that is going to be instituted and enforced.
1 Samuel 8:11, “And he said, ‘This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots.’ ” The king is going to build the military industrial complex. He is going to take the sons and daughters and force them into service.
2. There is going to be compulsory labor conscript for state service. If they do not serve in the military, then there will be something else. 1 Samuel 8:12, “He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.”
What we are seeing here is that he is going to build his own wealth, his own power base. The state is going to grow out of control. Everyone will be dependent upon the state.
This is where we are today. I read today that one out of every three Americans is dependent upon the government check. Almost 50% of the labor force somehow is related to working for the government.
3. The young men and young women, as well as animals are going to be conscripted.
1 Samuel 8:13, “He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers.” It is not just your sons.
4. The state will take your property, both the land and livestock. 1 Samuel 8:14, “And he will take the best of your fields…”The land, the means of production, is going to be taken over in ownership by the state.
“… he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and our olive groves, and give them to his servants.” The king is going to take from those who own it and give it to those who have done nothing to deserve it.
5. Because the state is now functioning as God, it will demand a tithe just like God. The word tithe means ten percent. 1 Samuel 8:15, “He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage and give it to his officers and servants.”
Remember, in the Old Testament there were three different tithes: there were two annual tithes and one every third year. That was all the tax that God put on the people.
But now what He is saying is that the government is going to come along and take another ten percent, and under Solomon he takes more than that.
6. God says the king will take your employees and laborers to do his work for him. This can be done through excessive taxation of income. 1 Samuel 8:17, “He will take a tenth of your sheep, and you will be his servants.”
7. Finally, in 1 Samuel 8:18, “And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.”
That is the punishment. The growth of a domineering, totalitarian nation state that takes freedom from its citizens is the punishment. A lot of times we hear people say that homosexuality is going to be punished by God.
Homosexuality, according to Romans 1, is a punishment. You look at passages like 1 Samuel 8, the oppressiveness of a government is the punishment for a failure to take personal responsibility.
We see a picture of how the people’s heart is hardened. After they hear all of this, what is their response?
1 Samuel 8:19, “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel, and they said, ‘No, but we will have a king over us.’ ”
We are not going to listen to what you say. We are not going to believe you. We want to have a king like everybody else because we have rejected God. Negative volition and arrogance blinds people to the truth and grabs hold of them so that nothing else matters. It blinds them to reality.
1 Samuel 8:20, “… ‘that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.’ ”They are looking to government to solve their problems, rather than looking to their own personal responsibility, their own personal decisions.
This reminds me of Romans 1.
In Romans 1:21–23, we read that saying that the evidence of God is visible to everyone, His invisible attributes are clearly visible through His creation. There is the indictment on mankind for rejecting God.
“… because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
This is exemplified by what is going on with Israel.
“Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man.”Idolatry. They are worshiping the creation rather than the Creator. In the case of 1 Samuel 8 they are worshiping government instead of the Creator.
1 Samuel 8:21–22, “And Samuel heard all the words of the people and he repeated them in the hearing of the Lord. So the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Heed [Listen] to their voice [do what they said to do].”
This is God’s permissive will. He is going to lower the boom on Israel so that they reap the consequences of their rebellion. So Samuel says to the men, “Every man go to his [own] city.”
Again back to Romans 1:24–25, the result of this is that God gives the human race over to the results of their bad decisions.
“Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lust of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…”
That is the judgment that God gives them over to. This is the pattern we have in the Scripture whether it is national or whether it is individual.
One last example—in the wilderness generation, the people whined and moaned and complained about the fact that they were eating the same old manna every single day, so God gave them quail. He brought so much quail, and the people ate it until they were sick.
The comment on that in Psalm 106:15—this is how God works. It says, “And He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.” He gave Israel what they wanted in 1 Samuel 8, but sent leanness into their soul. He gave them what they wanted.
He gives you freedom. He gives this nation freedom. He has given us enough freedom to where we have turned our backs on God. The result is He is going to give us everything we want and send leanness to our soul. We will reap the consequences, just like Israel did, of our bad decisions.
With our heads bowed and eyes closed.
“Father, thank You for this time to look at these passages and to understand that this warning is true today in our culture just as much as it has been throughout all of history. But nevertheless, Your grace is real, and just as there were prophets who prayed for their nation in the Old Testament, so we too pray for this nation, that You would be gracious to us, and that people’s eyes would be opened, that you would enlighten people to the truth of Your Word, and that You would expose, through failures, those who are running for office, those who seek to do harm to this nation, and those whose policies would be destructive to this nation, that You would cause events and circumstances to expose the flaws and the failures of their ideas, so that people can be awakened to the truth.
We pray that there would be a turning to You as the true Source of freedom, the true Source of happiness and meaning in life, and away from the things, the details of life—that we might not look to government as the solution, or recognize, as the Scripture says and identifies, that government is often the problem and that the solution is to walk with You. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”