We read in the early chapters of 1 Samuel of Israel’s desire for a king. One of the reasons they wanted a king was so that they could be like all the surrounding peoples. It seems that even nations can suffer from “peer pressure”. There were in fact many benefits to having a king. We read in the latter chapters of the book of Judges that one of the negatives of not having a central authority amongst the 12 tribes was that everyone did what was right in their own eyes. At least with a king, even a less than stellar one, the people of Israel could avoid spiraling out of control into complete anarchy. The key to kingship was that the people and the king were to remember that ultimately, YHWH was their only sovereign.
There is a lesson for us to learn from Israel’s initial demands for kingship. As the people of God in the 21st century, the church needs to be reminded that Jesus Christ is our one and only sovereign. Just as Jesus’ ministry and kingdom building in the gospels was unexpected and counter-intuitive in the light of 1st century messianic expectations, so should the church be sure that whatever decisions it makes are rooted and grounded in solid Biblical instruction and well thought out theology over and against the prevailing winds of an overly consumerist society. Everyone else may be doing it, but that doesn’t make it good for us. And since, as Jeremiah 17 reminds us, the heart is deceitful above all else, we’re probably better served to be guided by a spiritually disciplined mind, rather than merely our immediate emotional impulses. As Jesus himself said, “Wisdom is vindicated by all her children.” - Shay