We read from 1 Samuel 8, that the people, have spoken. “Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, ‘You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.’”
Israel wants to be a great nation and a king. Well, the prophet Samuel is not pleased to hear this, is he? It is not so much Samuel that the people are rejecting, but God. And so Samuel is told to issue a solemn warning- to want a human king, to want to be like other nations who do not know God, is to court disaster. In seeking to empower itself, in attempting to achieve national security through their own devices, Israel has become 'like other nations,' no better than all those nations which trust themselves, their kings and armies, rather than God. Samuel predicts that Israel under a king will pay dearly.
We must have governments. The rubbish must be picked up, roads must be built, and we must have some level of protection. Yet governments, even democratically elected ones, sometimes take on airs and begin acting like gods. And we give to governments that allegiance which should only be given to God, and we do it for the best of reasons. But what cure can governments offer for death, old age, infirmity, and that anxiety which comes from being human? We ask too much of government.
We would do well, today, to remember that each Sunday we pray, "For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.” This prayer is a pledge of our allegiance to a King and his kingdom, which throws all our other allegiances into crises. Jesus the Messiah, the one who set up a new kingdom and formed a new nation would resist all nations and their way of organising people for good. Your Brother in Christ, Mike Simpson, Locum Vicar.