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Why Did Israel Want a King and Does This Have Modern-day Application?

Updated on May 8, 2013

King Saul

King Saul with a spear
King Saul with a spear | Source

Israel Wants More, More, More

Israel was not happy. They wanted to be great like other nations. Therefore, Saul was appointed king in approximately 1046 B.C.

What Israel did not understand is that they already had a King. He was looking out for them and preserved them, and kept them safe in the wilderness. Their King was God.

God was not enough to satiate Israel's wantonness for a physical king - a king to make their nation great.

Commentary: If there was a snake right in front of them, it would have bit them. Israel already had more than a human king could offer, but it was not enough. They wanted to be like everybody else. This should be an indication of their spiritual condition, not simply seeking to live as a great nation under God alone.

It is much easier to serve God without a human king. As we will find out, kings want the devotion of the people, making it much harder to serve God. The election of King Saul was the yet another event in the Old Testament describing the cycle of Israel forsaking God over and over again (read the book of Judges for more on this cycle).

What Next for Israel?

After Israel appointed Saul, he ruled until a boy named David arrived on the scene. David slew the great Giant, and he became widely famous. From that point on, Saul grew jealous. David went into battle with Saul. After the battle, the people chanted: "Saul killed his thousands, and David killed his tens of thousands."

This bothered Saul. Saul became so jealous of David's fame, despite being the king.

Commentary: Keeping this in mind, think about who should have had the glory?

God should have received the glory. Instead, Saul was more troubled that he was not being worshiped as God. The people should have given God the credit for their victories, not David or Saul.

Can you see where Israel got sidetracked from their devotion of God, just because they wanted a king?

Timeline Info on King Saul


Samuel Presents Saul as King

Presentation of King Saul
Presentation of King Saul | Source

Believe it or Not...

Believe it or not, God prophesied through Moses that Israel would want a king. It was not a surprise to God, for he knows everything.

This can be found in Deuteronomy 17:14-15:

When you have come to the land which the Lord your God gives you, and shall possess it, and shall dwell therein, and shall say, "I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me;" you shall surely set that man as king over yourselves whom the Lord your God shall choose: one from among your brothers you shall set king as over you; you may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother.

God Sets Israel Apart and Again They Forsake God

Israel was "God's Chosen People."

So why would God's chosen people treat God in such a way, demanding a king?

The Answer: Israel had their eyes on everyone else. They compare themselves as a people group to other nations, which had kings. They wanted to be great like other nations.

Sadly, Israel did not realize that they already had something much greater than any other nation in the world. They already had God on their side.

Practical Application:

Let's turn this into a modern-day practical application. Christians already have God, filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of salvation. Many Christians look around at everyone else, comparing themselves to other believers and non-believers, and think: I want to be great like him and have these things like that guy.

Our modern-day situation is no different from the Israelites when they wanted a king. They wanted to be like everyone else, forgetting that God is greater than all else.

We (Christians) are no different than the Israelites. We forsake God at the drop of a hat, if it gets us on the same level with everyone else in the world.

Instead of gauging your spiritual life on those around you, it is time to gauge your life with the Bible as the measuring stick. Give God everything, and forget what everyone around you is doing.

If you try to live a life with your eyes on your neighbors to your left and right, you will miss out on God standing right in front of you.

King Saul Gets Annointed

Genie Lamp

a 3D genie lamp
a 3D genie lamp | Source

God is not a Personal Genie

Many Christians today view God as a genie, at our "beck and call" when trouble arises.

God is on the prayer "speed dial" when bad times come, but we forget to pray when things in life are going good. You either worship God with everything, or you don't. When it is time to go, you will be hanging on to things of this life, when God has something much better for you in store.

The "genie" perception of God is common among nominal Christians, but is a very wrong perception of our King.

If God is on your side, who can be against you?

As you read the Bible, you will see that God's power prevails over all situations. When he is not on your side, failure is imminent.

In the modern-day, the President is the closest thing the U.S. has to a king. He is not our savior in this fallen world. Our faith cannot be put in a man to make our nation great. We have to turn our hearts back to God - the God of Moses, Abraham, and the God of Israel.

When we take our eyes off of God, we allow idols and kings to take the place of God in our lives.

Place your focus back on God, and he will set your life back on track.


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