“Nobody’s going to tell me what to do.” “I’m my own boss.” “If you don’t like it, deal with it.” Ever heard anyone make statements like this? Ever made any statements like this yourself (don’t worry – I won’t tell!)? We live in a culture, especially here in America, that champions individualism and “looking out for #1.” While calling our own shots and criticizing those who try to stifle our individual preferences may seem worthwhile and good, this mindset can quickly spawn into selfishness and even destructive habits and choices.
When you read the book of Judges in your Bible, you find God’s people consistently embracing an if-it-feels-good-do-it culture. As you read the last five chapters of Judges and the first four chapters of 1 Samuel, you find stories of idolatry, deception, attempted sodomy, rape, murder, civil war, kidnapping, and corruption. And these are God’s people that are participating in these activities! What brought about this state of affairs? What caused the Israelites to show complete disregard for God’s laws and God’s direction in their lives? The author of the book of Judges gives us a clue.
Four times in the last five chapters of Judges, the author states that Israel had no king. The final verse of that book makes this statement: “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit” – Judges 21:25. It seems to indicate the Israelites would have been making better choices and living better lives if there was some type of monarchy in place. That’s not completely accurate though. The real reason that God’s people were in the situation in which they found themselves was not because they had NO king; it was because they had rejected THE King.
Fast forward to 1 Samuel 8 when the Israelites are clamoring for a physical king to rule over them. As God begins to outline to Samuel the process by which He is going to allow that to happen, He makes this statement: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king” – 1 Samuel 8:7. Do you see what had happened? The Israelites had always had a King; they had just been rejecting that kingship. They had always had a King whose will they were supposed to seek and align their lives with; instead, they had chosen to follow their own pursuits…with reckless abandon!
We still struggle with kingship today, don’t we? We have our own desires, our own agendas, our own preferences, our own wills. If we’ve given our lives to God, we’re supposed to be seeking His will and His direction. But we have a hard time setting our preferences aside…even when the consequences to our choices demonstrate that we’re not quite as good at directing our own paths as God might be.
The apostle Paul says to “offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness” – Romans 6:13. I need to offer not only my time and energy to God; I need to offer Him my will and my agenda as well. I need to seek His kingship and surrender to His rule. Things usually work out better for me when I do!
“In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” – 1 John 5:1