Husbands: Have you ever had a debate with your wife? Your arguments were sound and well-reasoned. Your pride was swelling as you articulated the specific facts and the important details. For a moment you thought you were winning. And then your wife turned her head and looked at you with that sideways glance... Nope. You lost the debate!
When Samuel was old, the leaders in Israel came to him to demand a king. All the neighboring nations had kings, so they wanted a king! The debate was on!
Samuel argued, “A king will take your sons and put them to his use in his chariots, on his horses, or running in front of his chariots. He can appoint them for his use as commanders of thousands or commanders of fifties, to plow his ground and reap his harvest, or to make his weapons of war and the equipment for his chariots. He can take your daughters to become perfumers, cooks, and bakers. He can take your best fields, vineyards, and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He can take a tenth of your grain and your vineyards and give them to his officials and servants. He can take your male servants, your female servants, your best cattle, and your donkeys and use them for his work. He can take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves can become his servants” (1 Samuel 8:11-17, CSB)
Samuel’s pride was swelling. His arguments were sound and well-reasoned.
Nope! They weren’t buying it. “We must have a king over us. Then we’ll be like all the other nations: our king will judge us, go out before us, and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:19-20, CSB). The debate was over.
Samuel knew that the Israelite people were being short-sighted, that they were being unfaithful to the Lord, that they were wrong. “So he prayed to the Lord. But the Lord told him, ‘Listen to the people and everything they say to you. They have not rejected you; they have rejected me as their king’ ” (1 Samuel 8:6–7, CSB). “ ‘Listen to them,’ the Lord told Samuel. ‘Appoint a king for them’ ” (1 Samuel 8:22, CSB).
As the next chapter opens, we meet Saul, “an impressive young man. There was no one more impressive among the Israelites than he. He stood a head taller than anyone else” (1 Samuel 9:1–2, CSB). At God’s instruction, Samuel anointed thirty-year-old Saul as the first king of Israel, a position he held for forty-two years. Sadly, we know that Saul was a miserable failure.
Is there a lesson to be learned? Yes.
Number one: don’t argue with your wife.
Number two: don’t argue with God. He’s always right. He knows the end, even before the beginning.
Number three: you can’t judge a camel’s age by the color of the hair on his hump! Saul looked kingly. He was tall, dark and handsome. But we “do not see what the Lord sees, for humans see what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7, CSB).