During the days of the judge Samuel, there arose a great deal of unrest among the children of Israel (1 Sam. 8:1-5). They did not like the deeds of Samuel’s sons because they were corrupt and Samuel was old enough to be unable to fulfill the necessary roles himself. It is for this reason that the elders of Israel came to Samuel and told him, “Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Sam. 8:5).
Israel had forgotten that they already had a king: God. He was to be their leader and protector. Israel, however, had declared God insufficient and desired a physical presence as king. They desired this so that they might be “like all the nations.” They wanted to have what everyone else had; the prestige of a physical king on a physical throne. By their actions, God told Samuel, they had rejected Him as their king to be ruled by a man (1 Sam. 8:7).
Before one berates the children of Israel for their actions, wrong though they were, one must first consider his own situation based upon this example. The religious world as a whole has bought into the same philosophy portrayed here by Israel. They are placing men as decision makers, leaders, and final authorities on the decisions to be made and the directions taken. By their actions they have moved God to the back seat, implying they know better than God the direction they should go in these “modern times.”
Even within the church there are those who are willing to uplift preachers, elders, teachers, and the like to a level of leader that (supposedly) absolves them of responsibility. When making their choices they reason by this standard: “If Brother So-and-so said it could be done, then that must be the truth.” When asked of their position on a passage of Scripture, they say “If it was good enough for Brother So-and-so, it is good enough for me.” They have made a man the final authority. They have, whether they realize it or not, set up a new king in place of God.
These attitudes reflect the same problem that was present in the children of Israel, the mentality that God is not the final authority. Instead of looking to God’s Word as the single authority on the decisions of life and religion, people look to men and then claim it is not their fault when they are led astray. What are we proclaiming in our lives? Are we proclaiming God is king, or are we standing before God asking for a different one?