Twentieth Day of Lent

Scripture: 1 Samuel 8

Lent is a time when we reflect first on the Journey of Jesus toward the cross but also the journey God has for each of us. In the text today we see the people of God in times gone by wrestling with some of the same issues that confront our lives in 2014.

The people of God were chosen during the life of Abraham. Moses was sent to lead those people from the tyranny of a foreign power. Joshua was sent to lead the people into the land. All along the intent is that Yahweh (the name by which God is known to His people – I am who I am or I will be who I will be) will be the true leader of His chosen people. After a series of judges, Samuel arises as the godly man that represents God to the people and the people to God. Unfortunately, the line of succession is not looking good; the sons of Samuel are self-centered and unjust.

The people do what is really very normal in human nature, they ask the simple question: “What works?” The answer is equally simple: “Get a king like every other country!”

Samuel probably goes through many emotions, hurt, anger, and disappointment among them. Yahweh makes it clear that the people are not rejecting Samuel but Yahweh. Samuel’s role now is to clarify the consequences of deviating from the plan that has been laid out for the people of God. Yes, they will have that person who stands on their behalf and leads and protects them. They will also have a huge cost in terms of their young people being taken to be cooks, soldiers and other cogs in the growing wheel of government. Taxes will be imposed in ways never before seen.

It would, however, be short sighted to simply say this is a lesson about avoiding those choices that lead to increased cost. The real cost is a transfer of trust. God’s people, then and today, are invited to a journey of total trust and reliance on a God that cares. Following a king was not a bad thing but it was not the best for the people of Yahweh. Following a regimen of financial or physical discipline is not a bad thing but if it erodes our primary relationship, if it deviates us from the journey, than it is not the best thing.

There is however a note of grace; Yahweh is not the spurned lover that turns His back. He continues His journey with His people in spite of their less than best choice. Probably everyone reading this needs to hear a word of grace because we have all chosen less than best at one time or another. Use this very human story to remind you of your invitation to the journey of walking with God who came in human form as Jesus and who has left us with His Spirit so we can walk day by day and decision by decision.

Jeff Anderson
Faith Covenant Church
Winnipeg, MB