Rejected God as King - 1 Samuel 8:7

Getting Our Way When We Shouldn’t

And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” – 1 Samuel 8:7 ESV

There are several verses in the scriptures that promise answered prayer. These are not unconditional, however. We must delight in the Lord, and then he’ll give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4). Another references says that we must ask according to His will (1 John 5:14). That same author says a little before that we must ask and obey His commandments and do the things that please God (1 John 3:22). So we know that we don’t just get to demand our way and have the Great Vending Machine in the sky spit out our heart’s desire.  1 Samuel gives us another scenario: demanding our way when it’s not God’s way and God giving it to us anyway. What happens then and what can we do to avoid finding ourselves in this position?

In 1 Samuel 8, we meet a great prophet, the namesake of this particular book, and he is getting old. He has a couple sons who should be the ones taking over the job of judging Israel, but they aren’t godly. They put personal gain first and pervert justice by taking bribes (v. 3). The elders of Israel, trying to avoid that problem, go to Samuel and ask him to anoint a king (v. 4-5).

Samuel goes to the Lord with this request and the response is not promising. The Lord essentially tells Samuel not to take it personally; they’ve rejected God, not Samuel. In addition, if they ask for it give it to them (v. 7,9).

Samuel goes back to the people and tries to warn them away from this course. He tells them all the troubles a king could bring, and all the things they’ll lose by being ruled by a man instead of God (vs. 10-18). This doesn’t sway the people, however. They want to be like the other “cool kids” of the time who have a king. After double checking with the Lord and confirming the first response, Samuel agrees to find them a king.

This scenario is useful for us to understand our own requests to God. In particular, request that are something we want, but that God says isn’t best for us. This passage tells us that the people are pulling away from God (v. 8). They don’t remember what God did for them and they don’t care. They want to have what they view as valuable: someone to rule over them and fight for them (v. 20). Never mind that God did that for them. They want a real flesh and blood person they can see.

How many times do we do this in our lives? We say we believe the Lord, but when we can’t see Him moving or understand His plan, we doubt and try to find a solution we can touch and feel and understand. Willingness to trust Him comes at the cost of control. We want to know how things turn out and we want a guarantee that it will be pleasant as we go. However, God doesn’t give us those things. (In fact, there’s more promises of unpleasantness than not. For example, John 16:33).

When you are pulling away from God or when you’re feeling negativity, like fear or anger, stop and check what you’re asking God for. Why are you asking for it and are you willing to take no for an answer. God is making you in the image of Christ, but only if you’re willing. We must chose to commit our lives to the Lord and choose to accept His answers for us. If you’re not, you may get what you ask for anyway, to your detriment.

Even though Israel demanded a king here and there were probably more bad kings than good ones, God still used the kings to bring about His plan. The first king Samuel appointed, Saul, ended up going a little crazy. The second king, David, brought about a time of prosperity that was only increased by his son, Solomon. The line is also the line that Jesus was descended through, as God promised David (1 Chronicles 17:11–14).

God’s plan will be fulfilled and our sin or selfish requests won’t keep Him from His plan. However, God’s ways of doing things are always better and are always worth whatever we feel like we have to give up to follow Him.


He Is Faithful to Forgive - 1 John 1:9

Forgiven First

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! – Matthew 23:37 ESV

Jesus uttered these words while looking over the city of Jerusalem while He was here on earth. In this one sentence, we can see how God’s forgiveness applies, not just to the city of Jerusalem, but to all of us.

The first things that Jesus brings up here is their rebellion and sin. He points out their sin and acknowledges their issues. Then what? He yells at them? Asks them, “How could you have done this after all the things I’ve done for you?” No! The very next thing is his heartbroken words about how much He wants to be with them. He would have gathered them close, and sheltered them under his loving, protecting wing. The people were not willing, but God was ready to run after them, love them and forgive them.

So often when we are thinking of our own sins and issues, we think that God needs to correct us or change us or demand more from us before he forgives us, but it’s just not true. God sees all our issues, more clearly even than we do. He isn’t a clueless parent who doesn’t know what we’re doing on the weekends with our friends. He can see the visible sins and the invisible ones. He knows everything about us. And it’s in this moment, the one where He’s looking into the darkest, nastiest corner of our hearts that He is longing with His whole self to forgive us. All He wants in that moment is for us to turn to Him and raise our arms to Him like a little child wanting to be gathered up.

We are the ones who need to choose to be willing to be forgiven. God is always willing; we are the ones whose pride and insecurities and selfishness get in the way of the work He wants to do in our heart. God loves us. Not just in a theoretical sense or in a disconnected sense or out of a sense of obligation. He’s in love with you. He finds joy in being in your presence, just like we find joy in being in the presence of those we love. He wants to be with you and be close to you. In addition to all this, He also knows how much more content and full of joy we’ll be when we accept His forgiveness and walk closely with Him.

God will work on our issues once we’re safe in His arms. He will talk to us about the changes that we need to make to become more helpful to others around us. All those things will be taken care of when we submit to walking with Him. But first, before all that, we must be willing to be forgiven and jump in to the loving arms of our father.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. – 1 John 1:9 ESV

Giving Up Is Enduring To the End


[Endurance:] The ability to persevere in a task or calling. The Christian is called to endure in the face of trial or opposition, and his endurance brings spiritual rewards.[1]

One of the paradoxes of following Jesus, like needing to die to live and the last shall be first, is the idea that we must give up in order to endure to the end.

The view of doing things in your own strength is holding out by the skin of your teeth and brute force. We can sometimes conjure up an image of a worn out, muddy, exhausted person staggering into the throne room of God and hearing the words, “Welcome, child. You wore yourself out in My name, but kept moving anyway.” This is a false view based on the idea of completing this earthly life under your own power. If this is your goal, I don’t believe I am too far off in assuring you that you will be disappointed.

True endurance in a powerful Christian life, is about giving up. Not just to anyone, of course, but giving up to God. It’s about letting your own self die in Him and letting Him create an eternal and lasting connection with Him. Every time we take back what we gave up, we’re not enduring. Patience and love abound when we are standing in the throne room of God and are handing Him everything that we think is important.

Our flesh self thinks that by handing off what we love, we’re losing something. We feel afraid of lacking what is ours and not being able to go to what we know and are comfortable with. Once we experience the joy, the connection, the completeness and the providing protection of God, we realize this fear is completely wrong.

The things that we’re required to give up can sometimes refer to physical things, but in most cases it is actually referring to spiritual or mental things. Examples of things we might have to give up include: knowing how to respond to people and reach out to others in our life, knowing how to comfort ourselves when we’re disappointed, knowing how to praise God and when to do it, knowing how to react in situations that are fear or anger inducing, understanding how to set priorities, knowing how to sacrifice our time, knowing how to anticipate answers to our prayers.

Giving up begins in our thoughts and our hearts, like most of our spiritual growth. It begins by our becoming aware of our own self-talk, of what we are saying, and of what we are clinging to. Giving up, to be successful and helpful, must include two things: acknowledgement that we don’t know how to do act or think, and willingness to learn a new way. That, of course, is easier said than done. There are several things that stand in the way of being able to do this.

Acknowledgement that We Don’t Know How to Act or Think

The biggest obstacle that keeps us from giving up when we need to is pride. We think that for some reason, we have what we need to do it, therefore, thanks, but no thanks, I’ll do it myself. Unless you know for sure that you’ve been taught by the Holy Spirit, either in your heart and mind or though wise counsel, than you are probably doing it wrong. Maybe you’re not doing it entirely wrong, but there is probably an important part of it that the Lord needs to correct.

The reasons that we have for our unwillingness to give up are usually based out of our own understanding: “I’ve been a Christian this long, I should have figured it out by now,” or “I’ve heard so many sermons on this, I feel like an expert,” or the deadly, “True Christians should just know this.” It can also be about how we appear: “Nobody else seems to need instruction, I don’t want to look weak or stupid,” or “The Lord probably just expects me to know this; I don’t want to keep pestering Him about it.”

Pride will keep us from enduring to the end faster than almost anything. Giving up is always difficult, given the depth of pride in most of our hearts. The more we practice giving up, the easier it becomes to recognize when we need to do it.

Willingness to learn a new way.

This step is very difficult. After the battle of fighting ourselves to give up, we often feel like that should be the end, but instead, it’s only the beginning of another one. Once we’ve acknowledge that we need to learn something, we have to be willing to do something new.


This breaks down further into two more specific steps: willingness and something new. Willingness is vital because we can often get stuck in the quicksand of helplessness. “Well, I just don’t know how to handle this. That probably means there’s nothing I can do. I should probably just wait till the Lord sends someone to tell me how to solve my problems.” Or another one that gets us stuck in place is, “I should probably just sit here and pray about things until God solves my problems.”

The willingness is the understanding that the mistakes not only shouldn’t be repeated, but that they don’t hold us back and don’t define our future. Willingness is saying, “I know God is capable of teaching me and I’m open to the idea of doing things differently.

Something new

After being willing, the pitfall often becomes that we immediately return to doing what we know. After the deep emotional catharsis of feeling the power of the Lord in calling us to change and the deep uprooting of old mentalities that happens as we become willing to learn, often leaves us in the land of self-congratulations on our willingness and we still just sit. If the Lord calls us to do something new, that means that something must be either added or taken away. If you’ve gone through the first two steps and few days, weeks, or months later, you can’t identify anything that’s different, this is the land you got stuck in.

This is the step of faith. This is the leap that goes from what we know into the dark abyss called “I Don’t Have A Clue.” This is the land of experimenting and trying and sometimes failing. We so often think that if we’ve hear the Lord and are learning from Him that we should never have a hiccup in the process. That may be true if we have perfect spiritual healing and never have a relapse of self and always act in love, but that happens to absolutely no one. Also, the leaps God give us are what we can handle today and we probably still have several leaps to go and several things still to give up. Becoming complete is a long process; we have to be patient with ourselves and with God during the process.

What We Surrender To Is What We Achieve

31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples;[2]

The reason that understanding giving up is so important is that we have to know who we’re surrendering to. During war, surrender is about a transfer of power between two warring parties. Surrendering is admitting that one group can take power over another. This is why giving up is so important when we’re walking with Christ. He will never demand that we give ourselves to Him; the entire work on the cross and the sacrifice He gave is so that we can choose Him. Therefore, when we surrender, we are telling Him that we accept His work, we’re not going to fight Him, and we give Him the power over us. This is what we’re telling Him each and every time we surrender, each and every moment that we walk with Him. If we are going to stay by His side till the end, we must continually give Him the power. Walking in our own power results in a battle again. Our natural self is an enemy to God and it will be forever. Only the grace and power of God has the power to bring us back into His presence, and that only activates by giving up to endure with Him.

So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.[3]


[1] Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes: The Accessible and Comprehensive Tool for Topical Studies. London: Martin Manser.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jn 8:31). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ga 6:9). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.