I was recently led to start reading the book of Samuel. Unexpectedly I stumbled on scriptures that informed my thoughts about Friday’s Presidential Inauguration.
I should explain that this was part of my regular reading plan, not a deliberate policy. It happened, as they say, by chance.
I had come to the end of the book of Acts and intended to start Luke’s Gospel again, but in the meanwhile I came upon a verse in Samuel and then thought “why don’t I start Samuel instead?”
That was a week or so ago. All of this is to say, I believe I was led to read Samuel because the Presidential Inauguration was coming up on Friday this week (20th January).
The People Demand a King
I am not American. I am English, so the whole election thing is not as much in the forefront of my mind as it would be otherwise. Nonetheless, these scriptures gave me pause for thought.
Now I’m going to share my readings leading up to today, which is when I decided to share them with you.
If you like, you could read 1 Samuel, especially chapter 12 to follow along. But let’s begin with the prophet Samuel becoming old and his two sons being thought unsuitable to take over his role. (1 Samuel chapter 8)
The people then demanded that a king be chosen and anointed so that they could “be like other nations” and have a strong man to look after their interests and fight their battles (8:20).
As you can imagine, this did not sit well with Samuel nor the Lord God.
Did Israel Need a King?
Up to this point in their history as God’s chosen people, Israel had put God at the head of everything (or were supposed to) and had only prophets, priests and judges to relay God’s commands to them as a nation. It was GOD who fought their battles and gave them victory!
The Israelites were a nation united only by history, language, and religion. They were separate tribes and communities. From time to time a common enemy would require that the tribes pull together, and a Judge would be chosen to have certain political and military power during the crisis; but when the crisis was over and the threat had passed, the Judge would relinquish his or her powers and everything would go back to the way it was before. Some of the more famous Judges were Deborah, Jephthah, Gideon, and Samson.
During the times when there was no judge, priests and prophets often acted as leaders of the people, although informally. This was the case with the prophet Samuel who provided spiritual and practical guidance. As he began to grow old the tribes feared they would be left with no suitable replacement. Faced with this prospect, as well as a Philistine threat, a group of elders approached Samuel and asked him to do the unthinkable: appoint a permanent king over the whole nation of Israel. [Source, condensed]
Nevertheless, God went along with their demand and told Samuel to “make them a king” (8:22) Thus it was that Saul – a handsome, strong and imposing man – was chosen as their king (in contrast to King David who was insignificant, small and shy.)
The attitude of the Lord as well as Samuel to this demand for a king was made clear in such passages as 8:7-22 and chapter 12 of 1 Samuel.
“Heed the voice of the people… for they have not rejected you (Samuel) but they have rejected ME, that I should reign over them.” (1 Sam 8:7)
“You have today rejected your God, who himself saved you from all your adversaries and tribulations; and you have said to him, No, set a king over us!…” (1 Sam 10:19)
Saul: An Accident Waiting To Happen
You may already know that Saul eventually overstepped the mark, defied God’s laws, and became a vicious bloodthirsty madman who persecuted David up to his ignoble death on the battlefield.
In his final battle, Saul was terrified of the Philistines, and instead of praying or trusting to the Lord God, he consulted a medium, the Witch of Endor in an attempt to get counsel from the dead Samuel. (1 Samuel 28:19)
The next day, the Philistines killed Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malchishua, Saul’s sons. Later, Saul himself was mortally wounded and when his armour-bearer refused to finish him off, he fell on his own sword. Thus Saul, his three sons, and all his men died together that same day.
Saul therefore was very far from an exemplary God-given answer to prayer. His behaviour and fate should have demonstrated to Israel what happens when you look to a man instead of God for Counsel and Leadership.
We Told You So!
Israel’s people cannot claim ignorance. They were thoroughly forewarned.
While he was alive, Samuel not only laid out exactly what would happen when the king that they wanted started lording it over them and turning them into his servants, but even more to the point, Samuel plainly told them it was a flat rejection of God’s Lordship and rule.
In chapter 12 of 1 Samuel, the prophet gives them a short history lesson in how God had saved them time after time, only to be rewarded for his efforts by further rebellion and idol-worship. And so, at a time when GOD was their King, they said “No, but a king shall reign over us!” (verse 12)
Then the most crucial and intriguing part of his speech is given (verses 13-25).
Samuel says that God has, in effect, compromised his own leadership and given in to their demands for a ruler. God did this without rancour or resentment, as we would expect. Indeed, Saul was initially moved upon by the Spirit of God, and anointed by Samuel for the task.
Thus, Israel was given every encouragement to make good on this arrangement.
“Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen, whom you have asked for, and behold, the LORD has set a king over you. If you will fear the LORD and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the LORD, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God. If you will not listen to the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the command of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers. …..know and see that your wickedness is great which you have done in the sight of the LORD by asking for yourselves a king... Then all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, so that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil by asking for ourselves a king.” Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. You must not turn aside, for then you would go after futile things which can not profit or deliver, because they are futile. For the LORD will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the LORD has been pleased to make you a people for Himself. … Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away.”
It seems clear from this that the reputation of God and his sacred name, his care for his chosen ones, and his plans for their future were not necessarily overthrown by their “wickedness” and rebellion in asking for a human leader. However, this was only God’s “permissive will” and NOT his perfect plan.
It’s a Choice
IF they continued to see God alone as their ruler, all might be well, but IF (as was likely) Israel began to look to a man instead of God, it would all go horribly wrong. Similarly, if the appointed king himself started to look to his own power, position and wealth, it would end in tears.
And so it happened.
Every time communities (including churches) have the inclination to follow and trust in a human leader, the same process takes place – at first arrogance, then abuse, followed by despotism, disaster and ruin.
Extreme examples of this slavish obedience to man include the Jonestown group of Jim Jones, the Order of the Solar Temple, who in 1994 arranged the murder-suicide of 74 of its members, or the deluded followers of Satan’s henchman Charles Manson.
Man wants a Leader
Not all human idol-worship ends in bloodshed or mass suicide of course. But human nature is such that it will always tend to defer to a man who appears strong, wise, authoritative and eager to lead. Much of the time this feel like a sensible thing to do. But is it?
Likewise, human nature rules the ruler.
It is rare that a popular leader, hoisted to a position of power, turns out to be truly humble and self-effacing, a man who turns away from the temptations such an elevated position offers. As they say, power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely!
Thus it was that Saul, having begun in the Holy Spirit and as God’s choice, ended up killing himself on the field of battle and losing everything. His career went from great acclaim and military triumph to impatience, then rebellion, jealous rage, paranoia, possession by an evil spirit, spiritism and suicide.
Being chosen by God and the people did not save him from this fate! He brought it upon himself!
What we can learn from these bible passages with regard to the coming “crowning” of the new American “king” is perhaps best left to each individual to discern. All I know is that I was led to read these passages in preparation for the event.
Who Are God’s People?
My thoughts as regards “God’s people” are these: no secular nation today is in the same position as Old Testament Israel and only the Church is God’s people.
However, as with ancient Israel, there is a mixture of obedience and rebellion, true devotion and idolatry, genuine trust and hypocrisy. Today God’s people as a whole – especially in America – have been led into mysticism, heresy, greed, and self-important aggrandisement, aligned with a lust for power and influence in the world.
This was the condition of fallen Israel and its kings for centuries. They thought they could make a nod towards God and his laws while enjoying the more hedonistic if not actually immoral worship of the idols.
Therefore, as God had told them, their kingship system failed in a spectacular way.
They endured centuries of evil kings with only one or two seeking to repent and put things right with God. Apart from King David, only a small percentage of kings, those of Judah rather than the northern region of Israel, managed to please God. The rest of the kingship idea was a disaster for all concerned, and ultimately led to defeat, exile and years of captivity. [See chart here]
God had warned them! Only IF they retained the sole supreme rulership of God as Lord and King of the nation would they prosper; otherwise defeat and disaster would follow.
Look to God Alone
Israel was warned to forsake self and commit to God alone, seeking no man’s leadership, for only then would kingship help instead of hinder their progress.
Leadership under God would be just an adjunct to their nationhood, a necessary but unimportant assistance, and not a driving force of its own. Their greatness would instead be provided by God. And so it is today.
God’s Errant People Today
Are the churches, God’s people today, going to anoint their “king” on Friday? Are they going to set a MAN upon the throne of their expectations, and look to him to achieve their aims?
Apostle Wayne T. Jackson of Great Faith Ministries, Detroit, gave Trump a prayer shawl and a bible he had fasted and prayed over, saying that now everywhere Trump went he would be anointed.
Will all the vaunted declarations and prayers of the church leaders up to now – their laying on of hands, their prophecies, [quote: “this is my son with whom I am well pleased”] their adornment of a prayer-shawl onto Donald Trump – lead to more dependence on man than God, and will it inject yet more determination into the dominion agenda that is already on track to rule mankind, (if we are to believe their hype)?
- Prosperity Teachers Ken and Gloria Copeland join Trump’s Faith Advisory Board
- Prosperity Minister Paula White, Trump’s ‘Spiritual Advisor’ to speak at Inauguration
- List of Inauguration Pastors includes Wayne T. Jackson, Franklin Graham and Paula White
- Mystic Rabbi speaks of Trump’s Divine Mandate to bring world peace
- Evangelicals should be deeply troubled by Donald Trump’s attempt to normalise heresy
I suppose, as with every other aspect of this strange series of events, we will have to wait and see.