It has been a common practice for me to read excerpts from the Declaration of Independence or George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation to my family each year for Thanksgiving. I still believe that for words written by man, these are remarkable documents. The closing words from the Declaration still bring a feeling of awe: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”
However, as the Lord has continued to mature me I have found issues with the stand of man in history. I have come to see man’s frailty. In seeing this, I see it so much more in myself. What has become clear is that man often comes up with eloquent words or pithy sayings that are memorable, but examined fully are not pure. However, the Scripture has shown itself repeatedly to be remarkable, consistent, inspiring, instructive, and truly worthy of the description of awesome.
This resignation to Scripture can be seen in subtle changes in my life. For example for a long time I used a quote from John Quincy Adams in my email signature: “Duty is ours; results are God’s”. While I still believe it is a concise and enlightening statement, it is not as full or profound as what Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 12:13 “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Therefore my email signature has changed.
With that in mind, I desire again to read to my family as part of the Thanksgiving Day celebration. However, this time a bit of history that I have come to believe is a more pivotal moment than 1776, and one that should be studied far more than it is.
1 Samuel 8
1When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.
4Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
10So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
19But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”
There are pivotal moments in Scripture, like the flood in Genesis 6, the crossing of the Red Sea in Exodus 14, and clearly the resurrection of Christ. However, until recently I have not heard much discussion of this chapter. I now believe it is worthy of far more study than Daniel and the lion’s den. Authors for the last several hundred years have written extensively on this chapter. Some have offered remarkable insights and of course pointed to how it is so very applicable today. For the moment I ask that you give this chapter some study. I don’t ask that you come to your own conclusion, but seek what the Lord is saying.
May your hearts have a zeal for the Lord! Count the cost and then may you follow in His ways fully.