The Quest for a King
An old TV series had a very famous line—“Look! Up in the sky, it’s a Bird. It’s a Plane. No, it’s __________.” Even after Superman’s first introduction over 70 years ago, and given the fact that the most recent movie has grossed about $127,000,000—we apparently are still interested in someone flying out of the sky to our rescue. It’s a very deep seated desire—the idea that we need someone to save us because deep down, we know we don’t have the power to do it ourselves.
The Israelites during this time in the life of Samuel were about to cry out for a savior—cry out for a king.
They had been living as tribes for generations, coming together occasionally, and basically doing whatever they wanted. But they blamed this system for keeping them weak and unorganized rather than their own sinfulness and selfishness.
They didn’t really trust God to lead them effectively, when the problem wasn’t God, but their willingness to listen to Him. They blamed God for their weakness rather than their own sinful hearts. So they wanted to trade in their God leadership for human leadership. They wanted something more tangible—they wanted to trust something they could see. And they were about to find out the reality that comes when someone doesn’t really have the power to do it.
READ 1 Samuel 8:1-5
Israel’s explanations for wanting a king:
A. Explanation #1: Samuel’s sons were Corrupt
a. On one side, Human leadership is failing us—they don’t have the moral leadership, so what we really need is another human to do a better job.
B. Explanation #2: They Needed Stronger Leadership
a. Inability to Work Together or Unify for Protection without being forced to do so
b. School Group Projects always have some that do all the work and a couple who don't do anything. If you were one of those who did all the work, how often did you go to the teacher and say--"Brian's not doing anything, can you make him please?" That's the kind of leadership or complaining the Israelites were doing. That's why we need a king-to make the other tribes (never themselves) do what their supposed to do.
c. The 12 tribes of Israel could not work together because each tribe had its own leader and territory. The people hoped a king would unite the tribes into one nation and one army.
C. Explanation #3: The people wanted to be like the neighboring nations.—This is Keeping Up with the Joneses on a National Scale. Look what they can do with a king!
1. Failure of Human Leadership—not even Samuel was able to pass on the responsibility of true spiritual leadership
2. They Couldn’t lead themselves
3. To Be Like Everyone Else—everybody who’s anybody has one of those.
These sound reasonable and logical—but God saw through their excuses. God knew the real reason—READ 8:6-9—God knew the people were really rejecting Him—really rebelling against Him.
They wanted to look to some ordinary person they could see, and control rather than a miraculous and awesome God they could not see nor control.
They really wanted someone else to save them—so they sought a king, someone to save them, just like we still look for and yearn someone to solve all the world’s problems with some quick fix solution—“If you just do this…”
How did that work out—after all, the Israelites only thought of the Positive and not the Negative. What would the King do? READ 8:10-18
1. Take your sons and daughters
2. He will take your best—vs. 14
3. He will make you a slave
4. A human king takes “for his own use” vs. 16
5. He will not lead in righteousness
6. He will promise but not provide victory
7. He will not meet their greatest need
8. He will not meet their expectations
The Israelites were looking for someone to save them—to take the responsibility off their shoulders, so they could follow.
We are not really that different—we still prefer the tangible. The world is still looking for a Savior—many have tried to fulfill that role—some think government or leader will do it, some think education will do it, some even invent a ready made Savior like you see in Superman.
The last hundred years have seen many rise up, claiming to be our real savior, claiming to have the right answer, the right drug, the right policy—politicians, musicians, even religious figures.
The Bible warns that many will rise up to claim the role of our Savior—in Matt. 24:23, Jesus warns that many will be saying and claiming—“`Look, here is the Christ!' or, `There he is!' do not believe it. 24 For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible.”
Why are there more false prophets? Because you and I keep falling for it over and over again. Satan finds a good strategy and uses it until he thinks it doesn’t work anymore—but in our quest to connect to the spiritual—when our friends and neighbors are not grounded in the truth, they will fall for anything—space aliens, astrology, drugs, New Age.
Did you catch that last phrase? These false messiahs will be able to perform great signs and wonders—even what many would think of as miracles. But their power does not come from God—it comes from the one who wants to keep you as far from God as possible. No human leader can fulfill our greatest longing and provide for our deepest need. We have seen many rise, fail and fall. Only God can satisfy our greatest need.
The first king of Israel, Saul, provided some victory but ultimately was killed. Their best king, David, failed morally and even brought death onto his people by assessing his military strength rather than trusting in God’s strength. Even the wisest king, Solomon led the people astray to worship false gods. Human leadership will disappoint—our government will never save us because it is ultimately flawed, made up of flawed people. But that desire is still there; that’s why the people, even today are continually looking forward to some better, ideal leader—a Messiah.
We dream, just like they did of a Messiah who would deliver them from occupiers—who would provide an abundance of blessing
A king who would not take but give
A king that does not want to be served, but to serve
A king that does not throw their lives away, but gives his own
This is the longing of our hearts. You see it in the way we elevate our politicians to near sainthood, our sports stars to an untouchable, “Can do no wrong” level. And it shows why we are so crushed or angry when our heroes prove their humanity and show their sin—or why we deny and defend them because we cannot bear to have our leader undermined. Who are you putting on a pedestal?
This longing will never be met in a human king, politician, pastor or anyone else alive today. They cannot do it because what we really need has already been done.
It was done, not with a conquering soldier, not with a commanding king, or a promise making charlatan, but with the Good Shepherd, the Lamb of God—Jesus the Messiah
All our greatest longings are fulfilled in Him. He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He didn’t come to be served, but to serve. He didn’t come to sacrifice our lives to build a greater kingdom for himself, but to give His life as a ransom for us all—to buy us back from the kingdom of darkness—to save us from our sin.
He didn’t come to get married and have kids like the Da Vinci Code suggests—He didn’t come to fulfill our expectations, but lived to please God and to Finish the work, to fulfill God’s plan that took Jesus to the Cross—that was why the Father sent Him.
In Matthew 16:21—“Jesus began to explain to his disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”—a considerable amount of time before the events actually happened, Jesus knew exactly what He was going to do—but it didn’t fulfill the expectations of even a close disciple like Peter—vs. 22—“Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Never Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to You!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”
Jesus repeatedly says things like John 10:17-18—“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life--only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."
John 8:28-29--“ Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him." Just before His Crucifixion, Jesus said:
John 17:3-4-- Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”
Knowing Jesus and trusting in all He did to fulfill the pan of God, is what eternal life is all about. Jesus completed the work God gave Him to do—that’s why He could say—it is Finished from the Cross—all that was needed to save us, He accomplished in His death—the perfect for the imperfect, the sinless for the sinful—He completed the task that God wanted Him to do.
D. Where human leaders are corrupt—He is Sinless
E. Where They wanted to Unite around Warfare—He Will Unite around Worship—and at the name of Jesus according to Philippians—Every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
F. Where they wanted to Settle for the same Flawed system everybody else had—Jesus will bring something totally new—a new heaven and a new earth.
What or who do you look for—what do you hope will save you? Is it money or your job? Is it some leader alive today--