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people trying to make a decision April 11 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): 1Samuel 8:1–9:2

Wait, Count the Cost!

We want something just because all our neighbors or friends seem to have one. So, should we go ahead and buy it no matter what sacrifices we will have to make? That is foolishness, but it is exactly what many of us do. We are not satisfied with the good things God has already given, and so we make the purchase of that much desired item. Afterwards, we find it does not make our lives any better, and in some cases it makes it worse. That is buyers remorse. Perhaps it is not a thing we desire but a new coach, manager, politician, pastor, or even a mate. The same principles apply. We must learn to count the cost of our decisions. It is best to wait on the LORD and not be hasty. God gives the best to those who wait on him.

In Samuel's day Israel has judges to lead them (for the chronology of the Judges go to more...). Judges are their moral and military leaders. Israel, however, wants a king to lead them. What brings about Israel's desire to have a king? When Samuel is old, his sons pervert justice and do not walk in his ways (1Samuel 8:1-5; 12:12 ). Also, Nahash, king of the Ammonites, is on the verge of attacking their people. They want a king to lead them into battle like all the other nations around them.

Samuel is displeased with their request and even takes it as a personal affront (1Samuel 8:6-9). God tells Samuel it is not him the people are rejecting but the LORD. How does God feel about their rejection? If we could paraphrase God's feelings and his words, they might sound like this: “After all I have done for you—this is the thanks I get?”

Despite his feelings, the LORD instructs Samuel to give them a king. Instead of punishing Israel, God reserves judgment. He allows Israel to find out for herself that reliance on a human king will not save her. He also allows her to have a king so she will see her need for a true king who will not be a tyrant (David). Later, in fulfillment of Moses' prophecy (Deuteronomy 18:15) and the promise to King David (2Samuel 7:16), Jesus will be Israel's king with an eternal reign (Isaiah 44:6; Zechariah 14:9; Revelation 1:5-6). Here is a lesson for us: Allowing those who are stubborn and who will not listen the opportunity to try and fail may be the only way they can learn.

What would be the dangers of having a king?

1. He might not follow the LORD and could be a tyrant. His progeny might not be any better ruler than he is, so the influence of a bad king could last for many generations.

2. There is a danger in relying on the king and the strength of his military instead of relying on the LORD.

3. The king would exact heavy taxes and take the best of everything the people had.

4. The king could lead the people into sin and unholy alliances which would be the ruin of the nation.

People, and especially Christians, should count the cost before running ahead with their plans.

Although God is displeased with their request for a king, with foresight he had given the Israelites directives to give them the best chance for success when they would ask for one (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). He gave strict regulations so that each king might rely on the LORD and his kingdom would endure.

Saul is the first king and is from the tribe of Benjamin. He is tall and impressive looking (1Samuel 9:1-2). Were these good characteristics of a king? The Israelites think so, but that shows how immature and rebellious they are. If they had waited, God would have given them, as their first king, a man after his own heart (David). Unfortunately, they have to first suffer the consequences of an insecure, self-willed leader. Will we trust in God or ourselves? Will we wait on God or run the risk of making poor choices and suffering for them?

Lessons to Live By

•  We must learn to count the cost of our decisions.

•  It is best to wait on the LORD and not be hasty. God gives the best to those who wait on him.

•  Allowing those who are stubborn and who will not listen the opportunity to try and fail may be the only way some people can learn.

•  Pray and wait on God or run the risk of making poor choices and suffering the consequences.

•  On whom do we place our confidence, our hope—on man or God? The LORD can give you forgiveness, peace, spiritual life, and he will always be with you to help (more...)

Focus Verse

Psalm 33:20 (NIV) “We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.”

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A Look Ahead: Israel chooses Saul as their first king. He is tall and impressive looking but comes from a humble background. God is gracious to use Saul, however, because he is at first humble and dependent on the LORD. He is also Gracious to us but we need to accept Personal Responsibility for our actions for his grace to continue. Find out more in our Next Lesson.

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