For the week of June 19, 1999 / 5 Tammuz 5759
Torah: Bemidbar / Numbers 16:1-18:32
Haftarah: 1 Samuel 11:14-12:22

Rejecting God

We want a king to rule over us (1 Samuel 12:12).

Saul was Israel’s first king. Israel had asked the prophet Samuel to appoint a king for them. Up until that time the leaders of Israel had been provided by God as needed. Currently that leader was Samuel. Having a king would establish a predictable system of government that they could depend on.

While kings were commonplace among the peoples of that day, Israel had a spontaneous kind of leadership. So wanting to be like the other nations around them, they said to Samuel:

You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have (1 Samuel 8:5).

It appears that Israel’s desire for a king was not just because they wanted to be like the other nations. Their request stemmed from something deeper. Their demand for a king was due to their lack of trust in God.

Samuel recounts how previously when the nation was in trouble, they would cry out to God. But this time instead of depending on him, they asked for a king.

But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, ‘No, we want a king to rule over us’--even though the LORD your God was your king (1 Samuel 12:12).

And so their desire for a king was actually a rejection of God:

And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king" (1 Samuel 8:7).

God gave them want they wanted. It looks like he had planned to give them a king one day anyway. This is evident through the directions in the Torah concerning kings (see Devarim / Deuteronomy 7), the way God used and blessed many of the kings, and how the kingship foreshadowed the Messiah.

The previous generations, though far from perfect, would again and again come back to realizing that God was their only help. They would acknowledge the error of their ways, and cry out to God. But they eventually grew tired of this cycle. Serving an invisible king was too difficult for them. They wanted a human one.

We too get tired of the cycle of wandering away from God and having to return to him time and time again. So we create predictable systems that we can control in order to provide us with security.

And while God seems to put up with our systems, this is not what he really wants. He wants us to trust him and no longer depend on our own devices.

Comments? Please e-mail: comments@torahbytes.org

E-mail this TorahBytes to someone? Click here

Subscribe? To have TorahBytes e-mailed to you weekly
enter your e-mail address and press Subscribe

[ More TorahBytes ]  [  TorahBytes Home ]