“But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, ”No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations…” (I Samuel 8:19, 20).
The Israelites have a story like no other nation. They were slaves. They wandered in the desert for 40 years. They walked between walls of water on dry ground not once but twice while following a cloud. They ate bread that fell from heaven. They drank water that came from a rock. As they wandered in the desert for 40 years, their shoes never wore out. Above all else, they are called “God’s people.”
The Israelites will never be like any other nation.
They have a story and a history that is rich with the hand of God seen in many ways. The hand of God was obvious to all the nations surrounding them. This is what Rahab told the two spies that were spying in the city of Jericho. “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond they Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heavens above and on the earth beneath.” (Joshua 2:9-11).
If God who had done all these wondrous, magnificent, and mighty acts on behalf of the Israelites which had struck fear in the hearts of the nations surrounding the Israelites, why did they want to be like all the nations?
They had the Creator of the Universe leading them. They had God who divided the waters of the Red Sea directing their steps. They had Jehovah Jirah who provided for their basic necessities. They had God who is rich in love and mercy protecting them and fighting for them against their enemies. They stood out among the nations. “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD you God has chosen you to be a people for His treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 7:6).
Why would these people want to be “like all the other nations?” They were unique, special, and chosen.
They wanted a king who would “Judge them and go before them and fight their battles.” (I Samuel 8:20). It seemed God had done this for them and yet they were not satisfied with the leadership God had provided them. They were not satisfied with the care that God had provided them. They wanted what they thought they were missing out on.
Rather than enjoy the uniqueness of their nation, they desired to be like everyone else.
As the history of Israel is traced throughout Scripture, this desire to be like all the other nations caused them great heart ache, captivity, wars, separation of families, slavery, and death. The blessings that God had so richly bestowed on them vanished in the presence of their desire to be like the other nations.
People of God cannot be like other nations and a treasured possession of His too.
Today, in our culture many strive to be like the world in the way they dress, the way they talk, and the way they live their lives. Rather than strive to be set apart before God, they strive to be the same as the world.
God did not call Christians to sameness, He called us to uniqueness. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness in His marvelous light.” (I Peter 2:9).
As Christians God has called us to be different. If we live like the world, we have lost our uniqueness. The whole purpose of being different is so that we can proclaim the Excellencies of God. If we live like the world, God’s excellencies cannot show through our lives. As the Israelites followed the king, the great and awesome works that God had done to bring them to the Promised Land stopped.
God allowed the Israelites to have a king. He gives us each a choice. We either follow Him or live like the world. Those around us can see how we are living.
“Choose you this day whom you will serve…” ( Joshua 24:15).