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Advent 8

Posted by on in Advent 2015
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Read 1 Samuel 8.

The time of the Judges was a terrible time. The Israelites could never seem to stay faithful. As soon as the judge who rescued them on God's behalf died the people chased after other gods and forgot about God. And that happened over and over and over again.

Then came Samuel, the last of the judges. And he wasn't the last one because God's people finally got it all together. No, he was the last one because by that point God's people had finally and completely given up on recognizing God as their king. In verse 5 the elders (speaking on behalf of the people) say to Samuel, "You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have."

And it's that final comment that tells us they have given up on God as their king. God had called them to be distinct, to be holy, to be set apart as His people and to live in such a way that all the nations were drawn to God. But here God's people say they want to look like the other nations. They are telling God, "We don't want to be distinct. We don't want to stand out. We don't want to shoulder the burden of being any different even though you have saved us over and over again because we are your people. We want to look like everyone else. We want their kind of king."

And their kind of king is not God's kind. Just read through the warning God gives them about their kind of king in verses 11-18. But the people wouldn't listen and so God gives them what they want.

It's a hopeless situation, at least it seems that way. The people have rejected God in a whole new way and it sounds like God resigns himself to second place. But that isn't what happens. Saul is anointed and when he fails David is anointed as king. Saul is everything that a king like the other nations needed to be: tall, dark, and handsome; powerful; a physical presence that could strike fear into the hearts of their enemies. David wasn't any of those things. In fact David's father didn't even consider that David would be king material; David was out tending the sheep when Samuel came to anoint the new king. But what David lacked in physical stature he more than made up for with a heart that loved the Lord. And it was to David that God made the promise that someone from His family line would reign on His throne forever.

And it's that promise, that King, that gives us hope. It would take generations for God to fulfill that promise, but about a thousand years later, in the town of David - in Bethlehem - that king would arrive in much the humble way King David was found. God's king was born in a stable, slept in a manger, and through Him God's promise of hope and salvation was fulfilled.

That event, and that promise fulfilled, illumens 1 Samuel 8 with hope. The people have rejected God, they don't want to be his distinct people, but God isn't done with them yet. Even when he gave them what they wanted, knowing that it would cause pain and suffering, God didn't let go.

And much the same can be said for us. We don't always do what God wants us to. We don't always want what's best for us. And God sometimes allows us to have what we want, knowing it will cause us pain and suffering. Sometimes we need to learn the hard way. But God never lets go. There's nothing that any of God's children can do to make Him let go and walk away.

With God holding onto us, there is always hope.

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