The Bible tells us that sometimes God disciplines us by giving us exactly what we ask for.
Doesn't sound like much of a punishment, does it? But today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg warns us to be careful of what we ask for. He's teaching from 1 Samuel chapter 8. The judges had been put in place to exercise leadership under the priority and the absolute authority of God the Lord as king. And now God says to Samuel, let them have their king, and then warn them about the kind of justice they can expect.
They want a king like all the other nations have a king? Make sure you let them know that there will be a price to pay. When you read on in this story wonderfully in chapter 12, we discover that God does not forsake his people even though they are seeking to reject him. But before we go immediately to that, we have to pause and take the solemn warning. And the solemn warning is very, very clear. So, verses 10 to 18, under the heading, Be careful what you ask for. What were they asking for, essentially? Well, we have the answer to that in the text. We don't have to wonder about it. God says to Samuel, Obey the voice of the people in all they say to you, for they haven't rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.
All right? So he says, what they're actually saying is, We don't want you as our king. We don't want to be Israel. We don't want to be this holy people, this distinctive nation, this royal priesthood.
We don't want that. We'd like to be the kind of people that can be absorbed into the culture. We would like to be like everybody else.
We would like to have the kind of leadership that is accessible and so on. God says that's what they're saying. In other words, we want to be free of God's perfect rule. God says, Okay, I'm going to punish you with the experience of getting what you want.
Isn't that what it says? You see, the Lord's willingness to grant them a king was an act of judgment on his part for their foolish, faithless request. Quite alarming, isn't it, as you reflect on your Christian experience? The times in life where you wanted something dreadfully and God chose not to give it to you—and there were other times when you wanted something, and he says, Go ahead, you can have it. I don't want to live under your kingship, living God. I want to be free to make my own choices.
I am my own person. I can make my own decisions about who I am and what I have and what I believe and so on. God says, Okay, go ahead.
And in seeking to be free of me, a perfect, loving, wise, generous God, you will live with the implications of your decision. Nobody likes to read Romans chapter 1 anymore. It's arguably one of the most politically unacceptable passages in the entire New Testament. But Paul is making this essential point. What he's saying in the balance of Romans 1 is that God has revealed himself in creation.
He's revealed himself in the moral framework of a man or a woman. In other words, there is a moral compass built into every human person as made in the image of God. So, in creation, there is enough to know that God made you, there is not enough to know to save you. That is why only Jesus can save us—only when we realize that we're on the sinful side of things and that we need a Savior. But in the meantime, Paul recounts the folly of humanity—not unique to Rome, running from the very garden of Eden through the whole history of the world. Verse 21, although they knew God, they didn't honor him as God or gave thanks to him, but he became futile in their thinking. You read on, instead of giving him the glory he deserved, they worshiped stuff. Here we go, verse 24, therefore God gave them up.
Be careful what you ask for. He gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves. They say, We don't want to go with this rule, this thing you've got going here, about the nature of who we are as people, made as male and female, made in your image, made to enjoy the privileges and benefits of sexuality within the framework of marriage.
We don't want to do that. God says, Okay, let me give you what you want. And they exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and they worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator. And then we go on to 26, and for this reason God gave them up. And what happened? To dishonorable passions.
How were they worked out? Well, their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contradictory to nature. The men likewise gave up natural relationships with women, were consumed with passion for one another, committing shameless acts with men, receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. Who says, the king says? The people say, We'd like a different kind of king. We'd like a king, like the other nations have a king, with all their gods and all their options and all their possibilities. We are trapped in this thing, trapped in a beautiful freedom or set free to a dreadful tyranny.
11th century B.C. Things are really gonna change, says Samuel. Yahweh is sanctioning the monarchy. He's permitting it. But he's not really blessing it. In a phrase, in the Psalms, you have this, Psalm 106.15, he gave them their request but sent leanness to their soul.
That's the worst of all possessions. He says, Go ahead. And he says, Go on. And when you went to take hold of that, there was nothing there.
And at the same time, there was leanness to your soul. Well, so Samuel did what God told him to do, verses 10 to 18. It's pretty straightforward. Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him, and he said, These will be the ways of the king.
All right? Remember, he said, Make sure you solemnly warn them about the ways or the justice of the king. So he said, Here's what you can expect. And you will notice that this king will be on the take.
Ironically, so were Joel and Abijah, his boys. So the king will be on the take. Verse 11 and 12, he'll take your sons. Thirteen, he'll take your daughters. Fourteen, he'll take your property, your servants, your cattle, and he'll put them to his work. In other words, when you go back to the passage I mentioned in Deuteronomy 14, what Samuel is saying is that he will actually do the very things that Deuteronomy 17, 14 to 16 warns about. He will tax you and cause you to cry. Notice this. And in that day you will cry because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves.
Okay? So where does the responsibility lie? It lies entirely with them.
And what will the impact be? The end of verse 17. And you shall be his slaves. In other words, welcome back to Egypt. Isn't that amazing? Now, we can't sit in judgment on this.
We can't. Because the picture of the Exodus is the picture of what God has done for us in Jesus, in redeeming us with an outstretched hand. By the sacrifice of blood, by the shedding of blood, there is redemption. As the people were brought out, they were brought out, and they looked back and they said, Isn't this fantastic? And then within about twenty minutes, they said, You know what? We liked Egypt.
The food was much better in Egypt. Are you kidding? What happened to them? Their minds began to be debased. They stopped thinking. Any time that you and I are prepared to walk straightforwardly in disobedience to God's clear dictate to us is an indication that we, like those people, have done the same thing. We have forgotten that we have been redeemed. In the Exodus, God heard their cry. In this instance, the Lord will not answer you in that day.
So, in search of autonomy, they reject God as king, and in doing so, choose tyranny. It's a great lie. It's a great lie that all runs all the way through the Bible. We need to say to young people, to teenagers, you know, God's way is absolutely perfect.
His way is perfect. You know, trust his word. Trust your dad. Trust your mom.
Trust your youth leader. They're not trying to spoil your life. They're telling you that in bondage to the rule of God is perfect freedom. In rejection of the rule of God, there is absolute tyranny and despair. Well, the clarity of the warning in 10 to 18 is unmistakable, and then verse 19 hits you like a hammer. You would think perhaps, just perhaps, that given the very straightforward way in which Samuel has spoken to them, given the fight that they have respected him so much, given the fight that God has done remarkable things in chapter 7, they need a king to lead them out in battle, they say. Are you kidding me? What did God do in chapter 7?
He did it with two milking cows and a brand new cart. And we need a king to lead us out in battle. What? Have you lost your minds or something?
Yes! That's what happens. You see, conversion is a mind-altering reality. And the work of the evil one is to try and recalibrate our thinking in relationship to the culture around us, so that every day he says to you, you know, you can't possibly be right. Think about how many people don't believe what you believe. You can't possibly be right. There are many leaders in the world. There are many options in the world.
Why don't you go get one of them? Well, the clarity of the warning comes in verse 19, but the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. They said, No, there shall be a king over us, so that we may be like all the nations, that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.
It's far more appealing than this stuff with these cows and everything. I mean, it was a good time, I admit that, but it's not as good as when you have somebody up front, you know, and a big champion, and so on. And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated in the ears of the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, Obey their voice and make them a king. There's an irony in this, isn't there? The people refused to obey the voice of Samuel, and the Lord tells Samuel to obey the voice of the people. What future is there, though, in this monarchy? What future can there be in a monarchy that is established on the basis of the refusal of the people to listen to the voice of God's servant? What hope is there for something like that? What ultimate hope is there? The answer, of course, is there is ultimately no hope. We're gonna see that when Saul comes, it goes along, David comes, ups and downs, Solomon comes.
We're moving into the disaster zone real fast. By the time you get to the Old Testament, the people realize there's gotta be a king who outkings all these other kings, because we never had a king that could actually fulfill all that we were hoping for. Well, of course, it never will, because the only king is Yahweh. And so, at the end of chapter 7, Samuel goes home.
I like that picture in 17. Then he returned to Rama, leaving us wondering, When will the investiture be, and who will be the king? Well, that, of course, is next time. But then I wrote one other phrase down. So what? And then what?
Well, so what? Well, how does the New Testament begin? It begins with the king. The time is fulfilled, says Jesus, and the kingdom of God is at hand. I'm the king.
The triumphal entry. The words of the prophet, See your king comes to you on a horse and mounted on a donkey. What kind of king is this? That same king will be crowned but with a crown of thorns. Because unlike the king that they were going to get who was on the take, this is the king who gives.
He's the king who gives. See, that again is the great lie. If you trust Jesus, he'll take away all the good stuff. You won't have a good time. If you want a good time, go with another leader.
If you go with Jesus, it'll be horrible. The reverse is true. The reverse is true. Believe me, because the Bible says it, the reverse is true.
I have proved it's true. He keeps what he starts. He fulfills his promises. His warnings are there in bright, flashing lights because he loves us. His judgments are executed in the framework of his mercy, in the same way that parents are supposed to discipline their children, because they love them so that they might be what God has fashioned them to be. The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.
Come to me, O you who are heavy laden and can make sense of things, and burdened and so on, and I will give you rest." You see, Jesus is not like any other king. That's why when Pilate's interviewing him, he says now, apparently, that people are saying, You're a king. He says, Well, you say so, and it's true, but my kingdom is not like this world where my servants would have been fighting.
Here's where we are at the end of a talk like this. It's about, Who's your king? You know, I have two passports. I have a British passport. I have a European passport.
I have an American passport. But Jesus is king. And same is true for you. Some of you hear from different nations. We identify in this way. But our citizenship is in heaven, from which we await a Savior who will come—the Savior who is the prophet who spoke God's Word to us, the priest who bore our punishment in our place, and the king who comes to reign over all our silly rebellions. And so, we're ultimately able to say, Jesus is king. Or, I don't want this king. I like it my own way. I think what you're saying is interesting but largely irrelevant.
Well, it costs to have Jesus as king. That's why some of us are messed up, because we're spiritual. I'm a very spiritual person, they tell me all the time. What does that mean? It means I can do what I want. I've created a leader and a king in my own image. So I know what the Bible says about this, and I know what it says about that. I've deviated from that course entirely. But I don't need to worry about it, because I'm a spiritual person.
No, it costs to have Jesus as king. That's what's going on with Susan in the Aslan quote, right? He's a lion. I didn't know he was a lion, said Susan. I thought he was a man. Is he quite safe?
I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion. Safe, said Mr. Beaver. Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the king.
I tell you. I got a funny thought in my mind right now. See, when our president met the queen, you could tell he really liked that.
And there's a sneaking thing inside the average, honest American. Man, we should have kept the king. We don't want a king.
We want to be like all the other nations. Well, is Jesus my king? Is Jesus your king?
Any other leader will be phenomenally attractive, but if you go with him, he will disappoint you. The Lord Jesus Christ will never disappoint you. You're a boy here.
You're a girl here. You don't have to be a hundred years old to sit in your seat as we end this morning and say, Lord Jesus Christ, you will be my king all my life. Amen.
That is, of course, the key question, the key issue. Is Jesus your king? You're listening to Truth for Life.
That's Alistair Begg, warning us that any other leader will eventually disappoint us. It is our privilege to study God's word with you every day here on Truth for Life. And we want you to know how much we appreciate your prayers for us, that God will use this daily program to bring many to trust in Jesus. We're also grateful for your financial support. Your giving is what makes Truth for Life possible.
And to say thank you for your support today, we have something very special we want to send to you. It's a brand new volume of daily devotions from Alistair. It's titled Truth for Life, 365 Devotions, Volume 2.
Just like in Volume 1, each devotion begins with a passage of Scripture followed by a commentary that explains more about the verse. Alistair recently took a minute and recorded a shortened version of one of his devotions, so let's give a listen. Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you're being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 1 Corinthians 15, 1 and 2. The good news of the gospel can so easily be forgotten or taken for granted. If we begin to feel that we need to go beyond it, or we find it irrelevant in our lives or affections, we should be concerned, not complacent. Just as young children need regular reminders to keep them from forgetting what they need to remember, we need to recall routinely the transforming power of Jesus Christ in human hearts.
Why? Because the gospel is not just the way into salvation, but the way of salvation. It is the word to which we must hold fast. As Paul describes it in 2 Corinthians 4, 3, life without the gospel is like living with a veil covering our eyes. We're blinded by our own sin, by our pursuit of comfort or doing enough good, or even by our own theology or religious adherence. This clouded vision is common to all mankind. But the gospel, the glorious news is this.
There is one who stands ready to clear the way. In his living, dying and resurrection, Jesus lived the life we can't, died the death we deserve, and conquered death once and for all, so that all who believe can have a relationship with God. On the day we first understood the full weight of this, we could run no other way than toward him crying, save me. Now, having run to him as the gospel bids us, we need to remain with him as the gospel reminds us. So where does the gospel find you today?
Are you living in this freedom, or are you still occasionally living as though imprisoned, trying with all your might to find the freedom only Christ gives? To the Christian, the gospel is and must be as water in a dry land. It is the priceless, payment-free water that the Lord Jesus offers.
It is the water of life. Be sure to rehearse to yourself the simple gospel today and every day, so that it never grows cold to you, and so that you live in the freedom that Christ died to win for you. And that's a great way to start each day, being reminded of the life-giving power of the gospel. That's Alastair reading a brief excerpt from his just released book, Truth for Life, 365 Daily Devotions. This is volume two, and you can request a copy today when you donate to support Truth for Life at truthforlife.org. I'm Bob Lapine. Join us tomorrow as we find out how God often achieves his purposes through the mundane or the seemingly random details of our lives. The Bible teaching of Alastair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-09 13:05:53 / 2022-11-09 13:10:46 / 5