This week we are at the Old Testament Fence Post of Monarchy. When the Israelites first settled in the Promise Land (Canaan), they did not have a very structured government. In truth they were just tribes loosely bound together primarily for defense against other nations. At that time they were led by charismatic leaders known as judges. The list of judges includes many well known Old Testament characters like Deborah, Gideon, Samson and Samuel. In time the people decide they would prefer a king, like the other nations around them. (Just an aside here —- When the people of God decide they want to be like the world around them, trouble is coming.) This offends the aging Samuel. We read about this in I Samuel 8.
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5 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.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” Samuel prayed to the Lord, 7 and the Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to 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. 8 Just as they have done to me,[a] from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. 9 Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
There’s lot to learn from these five verses, but the thing that I want to focus on in this blog entry is what Samuel does when the words of others displease him. Look back at verse 6. What does Samuel do? He talks with God. He does not argue with the people. He does not enter into a battle of words and will. He does not launch into a self-righteous explanation or a passionate defense. Samuel talks with God.
Seems to me this is an outstanding model for believers today. Within the Christian Church there is much disagreement about many things. Even within my beloved United Methodist Church, there is much disagreement. Seems to me that when those disagreements arise, we would all be better served if we could like Samuel, take a breath and talk with God.
Do you find yourself disagreeing with or even offended by the opinions of others within the church? Are you concerned about the direction of the Church? I know I am. If you are too, why don’t you join me. Let’s learn from Samuel. Let’s take a deep breath and spend some time talking to God. (Which of course, means listening, too.)
Thought for the day: Take a breath and talk with God.
Prayer: Lord, help me to be like Samuel when I am tempted to be offended and defensive. Help me talk with you before I talk with others. Amen