1 Samuel 8
Trials are a part of life. We face trials many times because they serve as tools at the hand of the Lord to strengthen and improve our lives. Just like exercise to the physical muscles, trials are the resistance that strengthens our faith.
Some trials can be avoided though. These could be called the unnecessary ones. These are the ones that are self-inflicted. When these come, they have a tendency to reek havoc and devastation. These trials come as a result of turning aside from the ways of the Lord.
Israel, in our text, wanted a king. However, their motivation for wanting one came for some unrighteous reasons. Their decisions if left unchanged clearly were going to spell out trials they would face that were unnecessary. But what was it that was leading them down this path. As God’s children today, we can learn from their decisions and avoid “unnecessary trials” in our lives today:
• Israel began by rejecting the Lord as their King.
This is usually the beginning of the slippery slope. In their hearts, before it was evident in their actions, they were choosing to remove their commitment of heart to the Lord and was placing it on other things to lead them. This is where many invite unnecessary trials into their lives. However, pause for a moment and understand why this decision was so dangerous: turning our hearts to other kings removes us out from under the care, the leadership, and the protection of the Almighty. In the spiritual world, that is a dangerous place to be.
Much can be avoided in life by keeping ourselves “true in heart” to our King of kings. Restlessness of heart occurs when we begin to doubt His ability to care for us and lead us. Doubt is usually behind this restlessness. By keeping our faith in the Lord, and not allowing this temptation of doubt to take residence in us we can overcome the tactic of the enemy to look for other kings in our lives.
• Israel continued by rejecting the Word of the Lord.
God gave them clear warning what was going to happen if they went down this path. In His love, God wanted them to understand their actions. In doing so, God’s Word also was to expose the motivation of their hearts so they could see them.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Heb 4:12 (NIV)
And what was their motivation? Verses 19-20 show us that their motivation was so they could be like every other nation. Why was this dangerous? God hadn’t called them to be like every other nation. He had called them to lead the way for every other nation by their example of living for the Lord.
As God’s children, we are not called to live the normal life that our world and culture is living around us. We weren’t redeemed so we could live like everyone else. The Lord calls us to lead the way in the Christian way of life. He asks us to set the example of real living in Christ. Serving our King is going to be different than the way others serve theirs. And doing so can avoid many of the trials that others bring on themselves because Christ is not leading their way.
Stubbornness and pride can keep one from choosing the clear path just as the Israelites allowed or our hearts can be humbled and we can thank our King for protecting us from unnecessary trials. No, God is not in our life to try to make it miserable as some suppose. Instead, He is trying to lead us in a path that benefits us the most and help us to avoid “unnecessary trials.”