Give Us A King! (Faith in Government)

In the time of Samuel the prophet, the people of Israel wanted a king like the nations that surrounded them (1 Sam 8). Samuel was utterly dismayed by this development. The people of Israel had no ruler, yet were prosperous. They had no king, yet were thriving in the promised land. God Himself was their King and led the people of Israel through His revelation to the prophets. Yet, this wasn't enough for them. The people of Israel still felt the uncertainties of life and were deceived into thinking that if they had a king like the surrounding nations, then maybe they wouldn't feel so insecure.

When Samuel inquired of God about this request, God responded by saying that it wasn't Samuel that was being rejected, but God. He instructed Samuel to first warn the Israelites about the dangers of having a king. Here was the warning given by Samuel (1 Sam 8):
vs 10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, "This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day." 19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. "No!" they said. "We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles."
Simply put, God was warning them that when you request a powerful human government (in any form) to "go before you and fight your battles" that your wealth and your freedom will be consumed by that government and the security sought will ultimately not be found. In the end you will have nothing but the insecurity you were hoping to remedy.
However, God does not force people to trust Him, so He instructed Samuel to go to the tribe of Benjamin and select Saul as king over Israel. They got their King, and the Bible tells the sad story of the history of Israel under those kings.

I see many parallels to the request of Israel and the shift of the balance of power in the United States today. As a people/culture drift away from faith in God, they look elsewhere to find security. Humanity has always been bedeviled by the illusion of the physical. Israel rejected Christ because He spoke of a spiritual Kingdom - they wanted a physical one. We are beset by a desire to see with our eyes, touch with our hands, and hear with our ears the entity that we entrust with our lives. How often did ancient people make useless idols rather than trust in God? It has been a perpetual problem for humanity.

People are no different today, but rather than idols, they look to strong governments to provide for them. Unfortunately, the same warning given by God to Samuel holds true today. When you ask for a physical solution to a spiritual problem, your "solution" will consume all your wealth, take away your freedom, and leave you with nothing but misery. Mankind has never found a way around this problem.

Socialism, the generic term for the system that attempts to provide for people through strong government and central planning, fails time and time again. The ideas that comprise socialism have incredible staying power because of the same issue within the human heart - a desire to trust in something physical that you can see and understand.

Our society today screams out for a king. They are delusional in their adoration of Barack Obama. The love, excitement, and anticipation of what is possible with him as President reaches beyond delusion to the pathetic. Asking one man to provide for you is frankly insane. Governments are bureaucratic systems that are unresponsive to the needs of the people they "serve" while consuming vast amounts of their wealth and passing laws that restrict their choices. A sane mind wants as little government involvement possible. A sane mind recognizes that governmental power rests in the balance against individual rights - as government power increases, individual rights decrease. If a government has the "power" to do a given thing, you no longer have the "right" to choose an alternative. If you give the government the "power" to collect taxes, you lose the "right" to keep your money.
This loss of choice is the ultimate insecurity. You can no longer make decisions that are in your own best interest. The greatest threat to an individual's freedom, prosperity, and quality of life is the concentration of power into the hands of a few. When governments (or kingdoms, or dictatorships, or monarchys, etc) are not limited in their power, people suffer.

The founding of the United States of America is a study in people attempting to escape the ultimate insecurity of life under kings. People suffering under the hand of oppressive governments realized that security wasn't found by the hand of a powerful king. They came to the conclusion that the proper role of government is to preserve liberty, not provide security (in the sense of money, a home, a job, etc). The United States of America was founded to establish this principle of limited government and quickly became the greatest nation on earth because of it.

Faith is the only remedy for insecurity. What we see today is "faith" in government rather than Faith in God. Government cannot provide for you, cannot give you security, cannot solve your problems. It can only make your problems worse by stealing your freedom to resist its choices.

There is a role for government - to protect our freedom. The constitution lays it out beautifully. Those who seek from Government what they should be seeking from God are not only going to destroy themselves, they will destroy this nation in the process.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. Very profound and enlightening. Thoroughly enjoyed it.