Sometimes we try to put ourselves in the throne that belongs to God, but often we put someone or something else there.
Samuel is old and it’s election year. But they want a new kind of government. They want one like the other nations. They want a human king instead of God. In 1 Samuel 7-8, even though the LORD had established Samuel as His prophet and judge over Israel, they still continued to fail at worshiping God as their true King. In the same way, we often fail to worship God as our true King.
Below is an automated transcript of this message:Good morning, church! Good to see all of you here this morning. We are in the book of 1 Samuel; we are in part four of our series entitled, “The Original Game of Thrones.”
We took our text from 1 Samuel 8:7; this is the theme for our series. 1 Samuel 8:7 (ESV) And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” This has been the story for humanity since Adam and Eve. We’ve been playing a little “game of thrones” with God; we want to share the throne or we want to take the throne and be king of our own lives. We want to be in control of our own lives.
This is what the Bible calls sin. This is the attitude of rebellion that says, “I want to be king, and I reject God as king.” in all of the behaviors that come out of that attitude, our sins . But the attitude is an attitude of rebellion that says I want to be king of my own life now. Sometimes we put ourselves on the throne, but then others may put someone or something on the throne ahead of God. This is really the story in First Samuel, chapter seven and eight as we’ll see in a moment.
The reason we’re tempted to do that is because we encounter things that scare us or make us anxious or worried. We’re willing to put almost anything in the place of God in order to get through those seasons of difficulty. As a nation. I would say that right now we’re in a high anxiety season for our country. Wouldn’t you say that our culture is pretty much marked by fear and anxiety right now? So many people are afraid of a pandemic. They’re afraid that the Coronavirus is going to kill them. We’re in an economic decline right now as a result of the fear from that; we’re in a season of a lot of argument and turmoil because it’s an election year and the ugliness of politics is always in front of us. There’s a lot of anxiety; a lot of people are really afraid and worried in a season like this. They might decide that they might need somebody that will just give them hope. I need something that will take the fear away, the anxiety away.
That’s what’s going on in 1 Samuel; it’s an election year for Samuel right now. He’s getting older, and the people of Israel point that out to him. They want a new regime. They want a new government style. They want a human king like the nations have. So, in chapter seven and eight, even though the Lord had established Samuel as a great man of God, a prophet, a judge, a priest and they’d never had a man like this since Moses, still they continue to fail as a people at worshipping God as their true king.
And as we look at the text, I think we will recognize their failures because we often fail in the same places. We fail to recognize and worship God as our true king. So, as we look at the text today, I want us to take note of these three failures that we often have in our own worship. That’s what we’re gonna be talking about today.
We’re going to do two chapters today. If you were here last week, you went home saying, “wow, that preacher read a lot.” I hope you don’t ever leave the church and think, “you know, we don’t really study the Bible.” I think I probably read the Bible to you for twenty minutes last week. Today, we’re only going to do two chapters; we have a light load today. We will be reading chapter seven and chapter eight.
Let’s begin with chapter seven and then we’ll talk about it. I wanna pick up with a verse we concluded with last week:
1 Samuel 7:2-17 (ESV) 7:2 From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord. 3 And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only. 5 Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” 6 So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah. 7 Now when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the people of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8 And the people of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9 So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. And Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. 10 As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel. 11 And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car. 12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” 13 So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 14 The cities that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath, and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites. 15 Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16 And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. And he judged Israel in all these places. 17 Then he would return to Ramah, for his home was there, and there also he judged Israel. And he built there an altar to the Lord. This is God’s word. Amen.
We’re looking for three ways that we fail to worship God as our true king. Here’s the first.
1. We try to return to Him without repentance.
I would first point out that verse two says they were really lamenting after the Lord. Alert. The word, lament, has the idea of “to mourn after.” They weren’t mourning because they were defeated anymore. They’ve been defeated. They have lost the Ark. The Ark had to be returned. They have mismanaged. They have worshipped it inappropriately and more people have died. But now they’re not mourning their losses. They’re lamenting after the Lord Himself.
Samuel has been preaching to them for like 20 years. They’re starting to come under the word now. They come to Samuel and Samuel says, “look, lamenting is a good start. But if you really want to return to the Lord, you must repent. That word, return, could have been translated, repent, in the Hebrew. If you really want to repent, here’s how you do it. Here’s how repentance looks. Noticed the “if” word, because it was still up to them. If you want to do this, here’s how you do it. He gets very specific; he tells them how to do it.
He, first of all, says, “if you return to the Lord with all your heart.” That’s the first thing; that sounds very familiar, doesn’t it? That sounds like the book of Deuteronomy, where the great commandment is given that says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind.” If you want to return to the Lord with all your heart, not just partial, but your whole heart. Put Him first. Here’s how you do it.
So what does he say? What are his directions? Put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you. The first step to repentance is a double move, really. There’s two steps. (1) Put away your sinful ways, your idolatry, your false worship. You must put away those idols that you’ve put in your heart. A commentator I was reading said that the , the human heart is like an idol factory. Everyday, it produces new idols.
This happened 3000 years ago. You may ask, “Gary, why are we reading something that happened 3000 years ago?” It’s because it’s God’s work. And with every page, we learn more about our God. Here, He is revealing some things about Himself that we need to know about repentance. And so we also learn stuff about ourselves; that the human heart is constantly looking for something, something here, rather than something in heaven. We’re constantly looking for something that we can put in their hearts that we love.
The people have taken on these foreign gods from the nations around them. He doesn’t list who they are. It may have been the Philistine god of the sea that was half fish and half human. As we studied last week, maybe they were worshipping Dagon; we see that in The book of 1 and 2 Samuel. Molech was like a minotaur who had a bullhead and a human body; the way you worshipped Molech was you brought your children to him and sacrificed them before Molech. So you killed your own children. You have your own infants before Molech order to win victories. Many of them were worshipping Molech.
Maybe, they were worshipping other Baal. The word, Baal, just means Lord. So they were calling someone else the Lord of God. Then, he names specifically Ashtaroth; that seems unusual because he said all the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth; he gave her a special category. She was the goddess of fertility. The way you worshipped her was through prostitutes, pagan prostitutes at the place.
You may look at some of these things and you may say, “well, that seems really strange.” Actually, it’s not strange at all; we still worship pornography. We still worship war. We still do these things. We just call those “gods” by different names. Do you know what I’m talking about?
He says we must put away our sin. We have to turn from it. The first step is to remember to “double move.” The first step is to put away in order to have room in your heart. Give your whole heart to Him. You’ve got to get that stuff out of your heart, you know? But you can only do it through Jesus Christ, because through Jesus, He gives us the power when we turn to Him.
You could be sitting here lamenting and feeling sorry about mistakes you’ve made in your life and and the way you may have ruined relationships and ruined some other things in your life. But here’s the thing that God wants to say to you; today’s the day to put it away. You can put it away, but do you know how to put it away? You can put it away with God’s help. You don’t have to do this on your own. Don’t leave here “beat up.” Here’s what I want you to see.
Recognize your sin; you can admit it to God because He’s ready to forgive you. Okay, He’s ready to forgive you because Jesus has already paid for it. So the first step is (1) To admit that you’re a sinner. Admit that you’ve offended God. Put that away. Remember, it’s a double move.
What is he saying next? He says to put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord. In other words, turn from there and turn towards God. Direct your whole heart towards God.
If you were ever in the military, this is called an “about face.” So you’re marching this way, and then the sergeant says, “about face,” and you turn and now you’re marching this way. It’s a 180 degree turn. That’s repentance. You’re no longer walking in the way of sin. Now you’re walking in the way of righteousness. You can’t do this on your own; you must do it with the power of Christ. Repentance is necessary to understand what it means to be forgiven. Repentance is necessary so that you can place your faith in Jesus as your true King. You must admit that you have been in rebellion against God. You have been trying to wear the crown upon your own head. You have been trying to sit on the throne, or you have put some other things that you love on the throne. You must admit that you’ve done that, and then as soon as you do that, you don’t have to camp out there long. Just admit it. You might need to shed some tears. That’s okay. And then turn and direct your heart towards Him. You can do this by faith; this is called repentance. If you want to truly worship the Lord with all your heart, repentance is necessary.
J. I. Packer says “Repentance is not only moaning and remorse, but turning and change.” It’s not enough just to be sad about it and lament about it. They were lamenting after the Lord, but they needed the word of God to tell him how to repent and return to the Lord.
He continues in verse 3, “direct your heart to the Lord and serve Him only.” That word, serve, could have been translated, worship; worship Him only. That’s what worship is; it’s serving the Lord. It’s giving all that you’re doing to the Lord.
As we look at this story, the people put away their idols in verse four. Samuel saw this and he says, let’s have a revival. Let’s get everybody together at Mizpah. Mizpah has to do with some place that’s high. It was a higher altitude area; it had the idea of a strong tower. Let’s get together at Mizpah and have a big revival meeting. People from all over Israel gathered, as it says in verse five. They gathered, and when they got there they drew water; they went down to the river and they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. Now, this is kind of a unique feature here. I don’t see in the text any command to do such a thing. They seem to just be doing this under their own desire to express to the Lord They’re pouring out the greatest life giving substance, water, and saying, “we have no life without You.” They were pouring their life out to the Lord. What did they mean by it? I can think of a couple of other places in the Bible that this is similar, but there’s no instruction to do such a thing. They’re doing this just from their hearts. They didn’t go by a to draw water and then pour it out. They’re not following any instructions. This is just something that’s coming from their hearts.
I can think of a couple of other places in the Bible where this act was similar. There’s this place where David is running from Saul and he’s hiding. He has enemies from every side. He’s sitting up late one night with his mighty men. He says, “what I wouldn’t give for a drink of water from that well back home.” And a couple of his mighty men heard him say that. They loved him so much they slipped off and they, like spies, went behind enemy lines and at great risk to life and limb. They got that water and they brought it back to him. And they said, “here you are; we love you. You’re anointed by the king. Here is the water that you were asking for.” David tells them, “I can’t drink this. It could have killed you to bring me this.” And he poured it out before the Lord.
There is another story. Paul is writing at the end of his life, and he knows his days are short. He writes to Timothy, his son in the Lord. He says, “I am poured out like a drink offering.” I’m coming to the end of my life. Water seems to be a symbol of life, doesn’t it?
So, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. They fasted and confessed their sins. They had sinned against the Lord, so they fasted and they confessed. That’s what repentance looks like . They had a revival up there. And as is normal, when you have a big revival, the devil shows up. I don’t know who invites him; he just invites himself. He hears the noise of confession and repentance.
Look at verse seven, “Now when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the people of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines.” Maybe the Philistines had been ruling for a little while, you know, they had their lands and had come over and they started taking towns from Israel. Maybe they had even told the Isrealites, “you’re not allowed to gather in large gatherings because that’s prohibited. Now you’re under our control.” A lot of the countries are like that where they don’t have freedom. The dictator will say, “no great public gatherings.” That’s not allowed because they’re afraid it’ll turn into a riot or something.
But all of Israel had gathered at Mizpah. The Philistines heard about it. The Israelites weren’t there to fight; they probably didn’t bring their swords. They just came there to repent and they’ve been crying out to God. Here come the Philistines.
Do you ever feel like that? “Lord, I am on my face before You. I am crying out to You and repenting. Why is this coming? Why is this battle coming my way?” The reason here is He wants to prove Himself; here is what happens when you turn away from your idols and turn to Him. He will take care of you.
Samuel takes a little lamb, a nursing lamb that’s still with its mother. He takes it and he offers it as a whole burnt offering. A whole burnt offering is not to be eaten by the priests. The entirety of that lamb is to be burned completely. This is another picture of a life being given wholly to God. It’s a clear picture of Jesus and how He gave His whole life for us; not partial, but whole.
Samuel prayed and the Lord heard him. He always hears. I think what this meant was He heard Samuel and decided to act. It says that the Lord thundered a great sound and caused the Philistines to fall into confusion so that they begin to run into each other and probably try to fight each other. Then, they took off running. Then, the Israelites pursued them in one day. Actually, God won the day ; the Israelites just had to do some clean up work. That’s how the story goes. They turn wholeheartedly to God and and God won the day.
Verse twelve, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” Ebenezer means stone of help. This is how far God has helped us. And he recognized it’s important to mark a moment like that so you never forget it. Ebenezer is the stone of help; whenever you look at that stone, I want you to remember that God won the victory here for you. It was God that thundered from the heavens and one this victory for you.
As we look at Golgotha, we looked at the cross where Jesus died in our place. And we look at Him as our Ebenezer who has helped us and won the victory for us.
Samuel sets it up the Ebenezer and then we see these concluding comments. You know, we call the books 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel. But really, chapter seven is all we have about Samuel’s ministry. We don’t have a lot about him. He’s a transitional figure. We see these concluding remarks in verse fifteen and sixteen, “Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16 And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. And he judged Israel in all these places.” In other words, he had certain towns he visited. He was constantly on the move.
Here’s a map for you. You know I can’t get through a message without a map. Here it is. And so I put Mizpah there on the map. I couldn’t find a good map with that on there, so I put it where you could see it. This is where the prayer meeting and the revival took place. You can see how It’s close to the border of the Philistines. And so they heard about it and they came to fight. But God won the day. This margin here was diminished so that they even got all the way down to Gath and some of these places. Israel took it back from them. Then, we see that Ramah was the hometown ofSamuel. And this is his base of operations. But he had a circuit that ran from Gilgal all the way around like this. So he visited all of these towns in the middle of Israel, which would’ve made it convenient for people to get with Samuel .
Have you repented of your sin? It’s the first step really, to being able to worship God as your true king. You must first admit that you tried to be king yourself. You must admit that you’ve sinned. You can’t just come into the kingdom worshipping without first turning from your sin. Repentance precedes forgiveness.
Acts 3:19 (NLT) Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away. Have you admitted that you’re a sinner? Have you turned to Christ as your Ebenezer?
Let’s keep reading. Chapter eight is coming our way. Let’s read nine verses and then we’ll talk some more.
1 Samuel 8:1-9 (ESV) 8:1 “When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
Here’s the second way that we fail to worship God rightly as King.
2. We reject Him in favor of worldly replacements.
Under Samuel’s leadership, the Israelites had repented and turned back to God. But it didn’t last very long. As Samuel was getting older, they saw that his sons were not going to walk in his ways, and so the elders pulled up there to his front porch, at his house in Ramah. Maybe he thought they were coming there for Pastor Appreciation Day, but he was wrong. He had been a good preacher, and he had been there a long time. Maybe they’re coming to tell me they love me, but that’s not what they said. They said, “you’re old.” That’s what they said; they also told him that his sons were not like him. His sons are worthless; give us a king. This displeased Samuel. I think it would displease me, too , after spending my entire life as a preacher and to get that kind of thanks. Sometimes that happens to men and women of God. You spend your whole life doing what God called you to do. That doesn’t mean that people appreciate it, but that doesn’t matter. I know where he turned. He went and prayed to the Lord. That’s who he really cared about.
Who are you serving? Who’s applause do you seek? Samuel saw the applause of God alone. That’s why he went to God, saying, “did you hear what they said to me? They said I was old. They said my sons are no good. They said they want a king like the other nations have. They want to be like the other nations. They were tired of having to serve under God as king and having a judge.” By judge, they meant a leader. That’s what that word really meant in those days. We don’t want you anymore. We want to be like the other nations.
And so, in verse seven, just notice how sweet God is to Samuel right here. God seems to lean against Samuel and tell him, I know you feel rejected, but they’re not rejecting you. They’re rejecting Me.They’ve been like this ever since I brought them out of Egypt. They are going after every other god of the nations. They want to be like the other nations. I brought them out and I’ve been their King and their Provider. I have fed them. I’ve cared for them. I’ve blessed them in every way. They’re not rejecting you. They’re rejecting Me. That’s what he told Samuel. He said that the rejection is that they’ve rejected me and they want a human king like the other nations.
Then God says something surprising, “Give them what they’re asking for.” You know, sometimes, God does that. Be careful what you ask for . Be careful what you ask for, especially if it’s contrary to His Word. Sometimes He’ll let you have what you’re asking for, and then you’ll cry out to Him and say, take it away. I wish I had never asked for it.
They asked for a human king. They were tired of the arrangement they had had with God. They wanted to be like the other nations. Now, as you look at this rejection here, it’s a little confusing. The reason it is a little confusing is that God had told Abraham that kings would come from him. God had told Jacob, as he laid his hands on each of his son’s heads, and Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel, laid his hand upon his son named Judah. God said to him, there’s a day coming when your brothers will bow down to you and you’ll be like a lion and the scepter will never depart from you. He was saying, there’s a king coming through you that’s going to be the lion of Judah, who will wear the wear the crown and sit on the throne forever. God had even told Moses and Moses wrote it down in Deuteronomy. There’s a day coming when there will be a king that’s going to come and hear the rules for how he should behave.
Here’s God and here’s Samuel. God’s been promising them a king, and now they want one. So what’s the problem? Well, that’s for us to think about and to meditate on. One commentator, Dr. John F. Walvoord, says this, “The request for a human king was not in itself improper, for God had promised such a leader. But the refusal to wait for God’s timing was clearly displeasing to the Lord and to His prophet.” I think Dr Walvoord has got a point. God was going to do that, but it was for God.
Remember back when Abraham and Sarah were promised they were going to have a child? They were both getting so old, so they thought, well, maybe we’re supposed to help God. Maybe we should help God. So Sarah gave her servant Hagar, to be Abraham’s concubine and to lay with her so he could get a son. Hagar became pregnant and had a son named Ishmael. As soon as she got Ishmael , she didn’t want him anymore. She shouldn’t have done that and she regretted it immediately. Remember that story? It’s in the book of Genesis. Sometimes God gives you what you asked for and it’s not what you really need. But then God was faithful. God gave them a son named Isaac, which means laughter, who in that lineage comes Jesus in the New Testament.
So the people are impatient; they want a shortcut. Let’s help God. That’s part of it, I think. Here’s the other problem I see that was surely a displeasing thing to God and to his prophet Samuel. They wanted a king like the other nations. They were impatient and they wanted to be like everyone else. They were tired of looking different; it sounds like a teenager.
I raised teenagers in my house, who would say, “but Dad, everyone’s doing it.” I would say, “no, they’re not because you’re not doing it.” That’s how I raised my kids. I don’t know how you’re parenting your kids, but that’s how my mother did and I passed it on down. Not everyone’s doing it because you’re not doing it.
But these people wanted to be like the nations. They wanted to be like everyone else and it hurt Samuels’ feelings. God said, don’t let it get to you; they’ve been hurting My feelings for a long time. You see , the thing is, God has feelings. That’s why the scripture says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit.” He was displeased.
You know, when Peter preached on Pentecost and 3000 people were saved, here’s how he preached in Acts 3:14-15 (NLT) 14 You rejected this holy, righteous one and instead demanded the release of a murderer. 15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses to this fact! The people’s hearts were pierced because they recognized they had rejected King Jesus. They believed and 3000 were saved.
Remember Stephen’s sermon on the day he was stoned to death, becoming the first martyr in the New Testament. InActs 4:11-12 (ESV) 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Do not reject King Jesus because to reject Him and put another in His place is to reject God.
Let’s read the final part of Chapter eight.
1 Samuel 8:10-22 (ESV) 10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of 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 orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” 19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”
We’ll get to this next week. We’ll talk more about this king that Samuel’s going to anoint, but he’s tired of having a bonus front porch. He said, go home and I’ll get back to you later. They’ve been there in his house in Ramah. They have called him old. They have told him his sons were sorry and that they wanted a different ruler. The Lord said to Samuel, “Give them what they’re asking for.” Samuel says to the people, “Go home. I’ll get back to you later.”
You see, Samuel had warned them that if you get a human king, it’s gonna look like this. In other words, you can’t get something for nothing. When people start offering you free this and free that, you need to understand. Somebody has to pay for it. Salvation was free to us because Jesus paid it in full; it cost Jesus everything. That’s why I say, salvation is not really free. It has been paid for, and we can receive it by faith because Jesus paid for it. He’s the lamb that offered His whole life for us . He’s the Ebenezer who brought us this far and gave us the victory. If you want a human replacement and you want to follow the world’s wisdom, then you have to refuse God to get it.
The third way how we fail to worship God as our true King is:
3. We refuse Him in favor of worldly wisdom.
Do you see it in verse 19? “But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel.” It was the voice of Samuel but it was the words of God. Remember, that he spoke every word that God told him to say. It was Samuel’s voice but it was God’s word coming out of his mouth. They said, no, we refuse. We want a king like the other nations that will do everything for us. They didn’t realize what it was going to cost them. They thought that he will go before us and he’ll find our battles. It will be great. We’ll have a king like the other nations.
They refused the voice of Samuel, which was actually the word of God. They wanted their own king. Samuel warned them; he said, there’s gonna be a draft. They’ll take your sons into the army. He warned them. Some of them will get drafted to fight. There will be generals and commanders. Some will do metal work and build chariots and swords. He’ll take your daughters and put them to work in his palace; be bakers and cooks and perfumers. He’ll take the best of your fields and your vineyards. He’ll take 1/10 of your grain, 1/10 of your flocks. Don’t be thinking the king’s going to be free. The only reason he’s going to be able to give out stuff is because he took it from you first. Just recognize what you’re asking for.
Then, God says to Samuel, they , have rejected Me and now they’ve refused Me. Give them what they’re asking for. Obey their voice. It just keeps going back and forth. They refused to obey the voice of Samuel. But God says, obey their voice.
There’s a lot of voices competing today, wouldn’t you agree? There’s a lot of voices out there, a lot of voices in the media, a lot of voices in the news, a lot of voices in the education system, etc. I’m just one little voice; I’m nobody, really. The only voice that matters is God’s voice. He’s the creator. He’s the true King. If you try to put some other voice in His place, you’re taking worldly wisdom and putting it in the place of God’s wisdom. You’ll get what you’ve asked for and then you’ll cry out and wish you never asked for it. That’s what he’s warning them about, but they would not listen.
It breaks my heart so many times; I have spent twenty-eight years being a pastor. I don’t know much, but I know how to read, and I know what it says. People will come to see me with marriage problems or some other problem. I’ll tell them, “listen. I’ve got problems, too.” I’ll listen and the Lord will give me wisdom and I’ll say to them what God’s word says. I’ll say to them, if you will trust Jesus as your Lord and Savior, if you will believe in Him and follow Him. If both of you will do it, He will heal your marriage. He will heal the relationship with your parents that’s broken. He will heal those problems at work. But you have to trust Him first and give it to Him. I often hear people, even before they leave my office, refuse and it breaks my heart. It must have broken Samuel’s heart, and it must break the heart of God.
Stop refusing God’s word. Let it penetrate , repent from your ways and turn to God with your whole heart and follow Him. Put him on the throne and follow His word. You can’t do it on your own; you need Jesus to empower you and the Holy Spirit living in you to empower you. He doesn’t want you to even try to do it yourself.
Also, you need each other. The Bible says, “iron sharpens iron.” We need to be in a community group together that becomes our family. We need to worship together. I’m concerned in this generation that people have decided to write off church attendance. They’ve decided, I don’t need God’s people in order to follow Jesus. You couldn’t be more wrong. You’re teaching your kids something that’s very dangerous.
Give God the first place in your life. Why not start off with the first part of the first day of the week? Just give Him that and say, I’m going to be together with God’s people. I’m going to worship King Jesus and let that set the tone of your week. Then I’m going to gather sometime during the week with God’s people and look at His word and and compare it to my life like a mirror. You will see things in your life that are out of order and you need to change. You will repent, and turn from that. You’re going to turn back to God. It doesn’t matter if you have been a Christian for a long time or you’re just a seeker here today. Every time we hear God’s word, we come under its hearing. There’s something to repent of because we’re all sinners saved by grace. If you’re a believer and if you’re not a believer, today’s a good day to get started. But every time I hear it, before I bring it to you, it does some pretty good work on me because every time I look at it, I’m looking in the mirror and thinking, I need to bring that to the Lord. I need to turn from that and turn to the Lord.
Oh, my goodness. Don’t refuse his wisdom in Exodus. We see these words. Exodus 16:28 (ESV) … “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws?” How long will you refuse God’s word? How long will you try to do it yourself? The book of Hebrews says, Hebrews 12:25 (GW) “Be careful that you do not refuse to listen when God speaks…”
God is speaking to you right now. Be careful. Don’t leave here and say, you know what? I heard something. I felt like it was God speaking, but I have a lot going on this week. I’ll get back to this. Be careful. Don’t refuse Him when he speaks. Let that be the day that you respond.
You know, they wanted a king. As we get into the next chapters, God will give them a king. But it doesn’t turn out the way they thought it would. Just like God warned them. Eventually, in a few years and it took a few chapters, God gives us King Jesus. Sadly enough, the majority of the people rejected Him too.
You’re here today; maybe, you’re checking it out. And you want to know more. I’m telling you, if you give your life to Jesus, everything changes. If you put Him on the throne, it makes everything right. It puts everything in your life the way it belongs. Make him King of your life. He’s already king; recognize Him as king. Then you can worship Him as the true king as you turn to Him.
Back in the year 1758, A pastor by the name of Robert Robinson wrote a song entitled, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” The second verse might have been kind of strange to some of us. But Robert Robinson apparently loved Samuel, because here’s how the second verse goes.
Here I raise my Ebenezer,
Hither by Thy help I’ve come;
And I hope by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.
He said, Here I raise my Ebenezer. Here I raise my faith and Jesus here I look back and see what You have done to help me, and I place my faith in You. I remember what You have done. Are you able to raise your Ebenezer, now that you know what it is? It is your stone of help, for Jesus is the Rock of ages, cleft for us. There’s a place in the rock for you. There’s a place under His protection for you. He’s the Lamb that offered His life for us. Can you lift up your Ebeneezer today? Can you put aside worldly wisdom, worldly replacements and turn from your idols and turn to God?
Let’s pray. God, Wow, your word was written thousands of years ago, but it’s timeless. You’ve never changed, Lord, You’re still that merciful God seeking to bring us to You. We’ve never changed either, Lord. We keep rejecting You, but not today. Today, we’re turning from our sin and turning to You. Is that you, my friend? Right now, does that describe your heart. Are you ready to put away your sin and turn towards God? You can do it right now in your seat. Prayer is an expression of faith. Would you pray in your seat with me right now? Oh, Father, thank You, that You gave us Jesus to die in our place. That He was raised from the grave and that He lives today. Would you forgive me of my sin? I turned from it and I turn to You. Would You make me a child of God? I’m placing my faith in Jesus as King. If you’re praying that prayer right now, believing, He will make it so. He will make you a child of God and give you eternal life. Put Him on the throne. You can do it through prayer right now. You’re proclaiming Jesus as Lord and King of your life. Others are here today and you’ve tried to share the throne. You believe in Jesus. You’ve trusted Him as Savior but there’s areas of your life that you’ve been following worldly wisdom and you regret it. Would you turn away and turn back to God and say, please forgive me. I know that you will forgive me through Jesus. I want You to be King of every area and Lord over every area. I pray it now in Jesus’ Name. Amen.