When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[b] us, such as all the other nations have.”
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “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. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”
– 1 Samuel 8:1-9
“Put Trust in God First. Our Lord never put His trust in any person. Yet He was never suspicious, never bitter, and never lost hope for anyone, because He put His trust in God first. He trusted absolutely in what God’s grace could do for others. If I put my trust in human beings first, the end result will be my despair and hopelessness toward everyone. I will become bitter because I have insisted that people be what no person can ever be — absolutely perfect and right. Never trust anything in yourself or in anyone else, except the grace of God.”
– Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
In the Scripture above, God tells Samuel that the people of Israel have rejected Him (God) as their king. They want something that is flesh and bone, instead of an unseen Spirit. The last verse leads to the next paragraph in 1 Samuel. An earthly king will cost them. They will lose their sons in battle and the king will demand the daughters to work under his command as perfumers, bakers, and other servants. Then, the king will demand a tenth of everything.
We tend to have the same problem. We gravitate toward the person that we can see. We can ask a friend for a loan of five dollars. The friend is real. The five dollars is real. We could ask an unseen God, but is He real? Is that the problem?
Or is it that we believe in God and expect strings to be attached to the five dollars? We might have to give up that sin that we keep clinging to. We might have to drop 50 cents into the offering plate. Then we have less than five dollars.
I set the amount to five dollars, because most people wouldn’t miss that amount. Not much can be purchased with five dollars. If it were five hundred, it would be a very good friend, bosom buddy, or BFF. Over that amount, and the friend will introduce you to his banker. Yet, God knows our needs. He’ll either provide, point us in the right direction, or show us that we really didn’t need the five dollars. Sometimes that last one, ‘not really needing’, is the most valuable lesson.
But then there is that time when you need a few friends to help you move or some other task requiring physical effort of several people (setting up for the church picnic, maybe). That’s when the first friend is out of town that weekend, although you haven’t given the date yet. The second friend just came back from the doctor with a bad back. The third friend is sitting up with sick relatives, and by the way, they need you to come over so they can get just one night of decent sleep this month. …
You get the picture.
God is not fickle. He is always there. With total trust in almighty God, you can call the first friend, and when he turns you down, God places a burden on that friend’s heart. He calls one of his friends, and you get a surprise phone call. “Hey, I’m your friend’s friend. Any friend of his is a friend of mine. I have four teen-aged sons. We’ll be there for you.” Is this a fantasy? No, this kind of thing happens. Sadly not often enough, but it happens.
Then there are the friends that you never knew that you had. Your community is devastated by a natural disaster. The neighbors who lost almost everything share what they have. The ones that lost everything come to your aid, picking up the splinters that was once your home. Before you know it, the church vans arrive. You start to see hope, and hopefully you will see Hope.
But the one person that most of us put before God is the one that we see in the mirror. We use the excuse that God gave me my intellect, my skills, or my strength. We say to God, sometimes without the thought ever entering our mind, “God, I got this.”
How many times has that little ‘prayer’ ended in disaster?
We need to put God first, before other friends, and especially before ourselves.
Soli Deo Gloria. Glory to God Alone.