Enjoy God, Embrace People, Experience Growth
A Heart for God

A King Like All the Nations

Scripture: 1 Samuel 8

I. We leave God behind for substitutes.

A. Instead of worshiping the one true God, we worship substitutes for God. Earlier in its history, God had anticipated Israel wanting a king. Deuteronomy 17:14-15: “When you come to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you possess it and dwell in it and then say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ you may indeed set a king over you whom the LORD your God will choose.” Israel now asks Samuel for a king in vs. 5. For all their history, God had been their king. But now they wanted to forsake God as their king. They wanted a human king instead. This human king would be their substitute for God.

B. But even though this request for a king is bad by Israel, notice what God does with the request. God says to Samuel in both vs. 7 and vs. 9, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you.” God says to Samuel, “Give them what they want. Give them a king. Give them their idol.” What do we learn from this? God will sometimes give us what we ask for to our own danger. Be careful then what you ask for! God just might give it to you.

II. We leave God behind by our dislike for holiness.

A. Look again at what Israel asked for in vs. 5: “a king… like all the nations.” See also vs. 19-20. Israel is saying to God that they no longer want to be Israel. They want to be like everybody else. Leviticus 19:2: “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.” The word holy means set apart, distinct, or we might say, “unlike.” Israel was to be unlike the nations because they were called to be like God. But now they were saying they wanted to be like the nations.

B. We need to teach ourselves and then our children to have a wholesome disregard for other people’s ways. Yes, as Christians, we are and we will be unlike the non-Christians around us. You have been called by God Himself to be holy like God is holy. So, are you? Are you different from the people of the world who do not love God? Are you unlike the world in your ways? If you are not different, then your identity is being dictated to you by the culture around you rather than by your God. And that is not good.

III. We leave God behind by our unwillingness to listen.

A. God says to Samuel in vs. 9, “you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” Over and over in verses 10-18, we read the same phrase. The phrase is, “He will take.” Kings are takers, not givers. Finally at the end of vs. 17 we get the bottom line of what having a king would mean for Israel. “You shall be his slaves.” But the Israelites would not listen to God and Samuel. They still wanted a king like all the other nations (vs. 19-20). There is a better king for us: King Jesus. Mark 10:45: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Do you see the difference between King Jesus and the kings that all the nations have? The kings of the nations are takers. They take and they take and they take some more. But king Jesus is not a taker. Jesus is a giver. He even gives His life for you.

Give your heart and your trust to Jesus. He is the king you want and need.

The book of 1 Samuel
Commentaries on 1 Samuel by Robert Bergen, Dale Ralph Davis and Tim Chester


  1. What did Israel want to be their God substitute? What idol did they want? What are the idols that you want to follow instead of the living God?
  2. We Christians are to be different, distinct, holy? Are we?
  3. Have you ever served something you thought would give things to you, but in reality took far more from you? Are you able to listen to God when He tells you not to serve that something?