So Samuel delivered God’s warning to the people who were asking him to give them a king. He said, “This is the way the kind of king you’re talking about operates. He’ll take your sons and make soldiers of them—chariotry, cavalry, infantry, regimented in battalions and squadrons. He’ll put some to forced labor on his farms, plowing and harvesting, and others to making either weapons of war or chariots in which he can ride in luxury. He’ll put your daughters to work as beauticians and waitresses and cooks. He’ll conscript your best fields, vineyards, and orchards and hand them over to his special friends. He’ll tax your harvests and vintage to support his extensive bureaucracy. Your prize workers and best animals he’ll take for his own use. He’ll lay a tax on your flocks and you’ll end up no better than slaves. The day will come when you will cry in desperation because of this king you so much want for yourselves. But don’t expect God to answer.” [1 Samuel 8: 10-18]
This week we held the inauguration of our 45th President here in the United States. It was an unhealthy campaign and produced unhappy results on both sides of the party lines that led to this moment in history. It was our first president that, remembering scripture, refused to be named king of America and instead, pushed for appointed terms of service to the people. He remembered the warnings of the evil, self-serving ways that could be exacted by rulers and wanted this country to establish a new path for those who rule over others. He wanted to make sure that those who rule are there to serve the people and not the other way around. Washington invoked the name of God so the people of America would not forget God’s leadership. Like the people of Israel in the time of Samuel, the people however, got in the leaders they desired and deserved.
If only we had listened to Washington, chosen a different path than Israel in the time of Samuel and acknowledged our service to God as our King. Though the names change and the offices are titled differently, the story remains the same. History has a habit of repeating itself because we as broken and flawed human beings are, if nothing else, predictable.
Thankfully, God is always ready to forgive and welcome us back, but we first need to come to Him and ask, live repentant lives, again pledge our service to Him and live loving and service filled lives. Is it time yet?
Rev. Michael VandenBerg
Pastor, HOPE Community Church @ the YMCA