12–18 June 2016.
Today when we think about good judges, we think of someone making neutral decisions, someone not biased one way or the other, someone who doesn’t get involved. But the great judges in ancient Israel weren’t like this. Instead of simply making neutral decisions, the great judges upheld God’s justice. That meant defending the poor and weak, protecting those in need, and lifting up those who had been pushed down. Judges worked with God to make things right in the world.
But in today’s text Israel decides they don’t want judges anymore. Instead they want to be like other countries and have a king. Samuel warns the people what having a king means. Kings will take their sons and daughters, take their lands and crops, take their possessions, and turn them into slaves again. Is that really what they want? Yes.
Why do we people always do this, wanting to have someone to rule over us? Even in churches people are so eager to have little kings to rule over them. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. In chapter 8:9, God says that earthly kings will oppress the people and see this as their natural right. When the Israelites get Saul as their king, they find out just how right God was.
Kings and rulers are not supposed to be like that. We know because Jesus, the King of Kings, shows us what a true king is like. In Matt 20:28 Christ the King tells us that he came not to be served by others, but to serve. And in John 15:15, he tells us that we are not to be his servants but his friends.
Israel wanted a king and to play politics, setting up their own nation. But in Christ we see what God really wants: not to set up a kingdom like others, but to help God’s kingdom spread into all countries of the world. Israel wanted a king and a country; but we Christians want to see the love, justice, and peace of Christ the King spread out across all nations. We want to see all rulers protect the weak, stand up for the needy, set free those who are suffering, and spread God’s love all over the world. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our leaders in Taiwan, and us too, could do this!
Pastor Stephen Lakkis