We All Want A King

Katie Franzen, Executive Pastor of Ministries & Strategic Initiatives | June 25, 2024

But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 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.”
1 Samuel 8:19-20

The people of Israel had a  love-hate relationship with kings. Throughout the historical books of the Bible, you see a vacillation between wanting a king and then wanting to be freed from the rulership of a king. It’s a little crazy-making when we read it today because we see the switch in a matter of minutes, but in the textual context, the switch from one desire to another took place over the course of years and, sometimes, even generations. 

In today’s passage, Israel was in an era of wanting a king. What they didn’t recognize was that God did not intend for Israel to have a king other than Himself. By demanding a king, they were rejecting the lordship of their creator. God warned that they would suffer the oppression that a human king inevitably creates, and yet, in their overconfidence, they insisted on having a king to lead them and fight their battles.

It is so easy to judge their pride, but really, we do the same thing. As we head into a presidential election season, you see it everywhere. We want a president who matches our ideological principles. We put so much hope in a political savior. And in some ways, it makes sense. Things like Christian nationalism or progressive idealism are great examples of good desires gone awry. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a leader who cared for every person in our country and was able to meet their every need? Wouldn’t it be amazing to experience true peace on earth? Wouldn’t life be so much better with no crime or division? Wouldn’t having a political leader who truly loved Jesus and lived like him be such a gift? And so we, like Israel, put our hope in a modern-day king. 

Even if a political candidate matches our exact theology, they will fail us because, ultimately, they are human. And the same principle applies in the church. How often have we misplaced our faith in a pastor instead of in Christ? At Willow, we don’t ever want to be known for one pastor or political party or any kind of modern-day king. We want to be about the King. When people come to our groups and weekend services or serve on a volunteer team, we want them to experience the love and power of Jesus.  

Next Steps

As we head into this political season, do you find yourself putting more energy into following a campaign or political leader than you find yourself spending time with Jesus? If so, there’s no shame, but try to reprioritize the amount of time you spend watching the news or scrolling through social media as you do in God’s Word. 

What “king,” or any kind of idol is starting to become a stronghold in your life? Spend some time in prayer asking God to remain your foundation.