Monday Club Sermons
1 Samuel 8:4-20
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel to Ramah,…
I. WHY DID THE PEOPLE DESIRE A KING? Because the rule of the Judges had brought them neither quietness within nor security from enemies without. National unity had almost disappeared. They seem twelve tribes rather than one nation. They were scattered over a wide and difficult territory, traversed only by a few wretched paths. When hostile incursions fell upon exposed regions, the untroubled portions were often indifferent to the fate of their brethren. The Judges whom God raised up to deliver them had little influence beyond the scene of their exploits. The feebleness of the prophet, prematurely old with his cares, and the unworthiness of his sons, increased the popular discontent. Many years ago, their fathers had wanted to make Gideon king: now surely the time had come for a strong central government. Then let the change be made while Samuel was with them, rather than risk the chance of unpromising successors. Had not Jehovah himself looked forward to a kingdom? Both Abraham (Genesis 17:6-16) and Jacob (Genesis 35:11) had been promised that they should be fathers of kings. Moses had anticipated the monarchy in his final address (Deuteronomy 17:14-20) Everything seemed to favour and demand the step.
II. WHY WAS THE REQUEST WRONG? Not in the sense of its need, but in the way of seeking it. The people forgot their covenant relation to Jehovah — that they were a peculiar nation, with a peculiar history and a peculiar mission. Such a demand showed ingratitude, distrust and disloyalty toward God. They wanted to better their government instead of reforming their character, and looked to legislation for help which could come only from righteousness
III. WHY DID GOD CONSENT TO WHAT HE DID NOT APPROVE? Because, if He could not do the best for them, He would do the best He could. His disapproval was for their sins; His consent, to a change not wrong in itself, probably in His plan. The idea of royalty belonged to a true conception of the Messiah, and would be developed most successfully by the rule of righteous kings, as the cross was typified by the sacrifices Since the people were too faithless to wait God's time. resistance to their wishes could only harden their hearts. The history of. our race is one record of the accommodation of a Divine ideal to human frailty. Besides the ever-present truth that all mischief comes from sin and all happiness is found in obedience to God, the special value of the lesson is to illustrate the true source of national greatness. This law is stated in a Divine utterance at Sinai: "If ye will obey My voice indeed and keep My covenant, then shall ye be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people: for all the earth is mine." Here are three distinct statements: first, all the earth is God's; second, a single nation is chosen by Him as a peculiar treasure; third, the ground of the choice, the condition of the favour, is national righteousness. This compact statement declares the providential evolution and Divine selection of nations, resulting in the survival of the fittest.
1. The Divine order is not committed in favour of any one form of government. Political forms are means, not ends. We cannot, assume that a democracy is the ideal. The kingdom of heaven is a monarchy, not dependent on men's votes for its authority, or human legislation for its laws and penalties Stable governments are growths, not manufactured forms, and the same growth is not fitted for every soil. When King Murat demanded of Lord Holland to make him a constitution, the wise statesman replied, "You might as well ask me to build you a tree." A republic demands general virtue and intelligence What would become of Russia or Turkey if made democracies at once? The Almighty has blessed forms of government widely different. An ideal constitution will not make an ideal nation.
2. The Divine order is not committed to any degree of material prosperity. Egypt had everything, Israel nothing; yet the mob of slaves was chosen before the kingdom opulent with treasure and hoary with learning. Assyria, Persia, Greece, Rome, have been used and discarded in the advance of the church
3. The Divine order is committed eternally for righteousness. This has been the principle of selection in national evolution, not the development of certain political forms. The moral good of the race is the only object which a holy God can permit to control its destinies. The Christian character of our government must be asserted and maintained. It is false to speak of this government as having no religious character. It was born a Christian nation by the will of man and also by the will of God. Surely the centuries have brought us something; above all else, a Christian birthright. Christianity is the "Common law" of the land. All, all, proclaim that Christianity, general, tolerant Christianity, Christianity independent of sects and parties, that Christianity to which the sword and fagot are unknown, general. tolerant Christianity, is the law of the land. The virtue of its individual citizens is the nation's real hope. The sins which bare destroyed the dead nations have been the sins of individuals. The state as a corporation has no soul. We know but two moral existences, God and man; and the conduct which God rewards in individuals will secure his blessing upon their associated action A community may be rich or poor, may be under a monarch or a president: are its members righteous? — then they will have national prosperity; are they vile? — their nation will be cursed.
(Monday Club Sermons)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,