In the days of the prophet Samuel, the people asked for a king. They had never had one before. Samuel, and others before him, served as Judges who led the people in special times and acted as intercessors between the people and God. Samuel was not pleased that the people asked for a king because he understood that there were two realities behind the request: 1) Israel wanted to be just like all the other nations in having a king; and, 2) Israel was rejecting God as their rightful king.
What the ancient Israelites wanted from an earthly king was what God himself was really supposed to do for them. It is God who is Sovereign over everyone and everything; an earthly king only rules partially. An earthly king cannot provide all of the people’s needs for them. Yet, even in this present day and age, people of all kinds still look to earthly politicians and pastors to meet their every need. This is why so many people get upset and have visceral reactions to politics and the church – far too many of them expect a human authority figure to do for them what God is supposed to do.
No other human being can fight your battles for you. No other person can do your relational and spiritual work for you. We must all take charge of our own lives and be responsible to develop and cultivate spiritual and relational practices that connect us with the God who is in charge of the universe. We can then ask God for things according to his will, not ours. God ended up giving Israel a king, even when it was not the best of ideas on their part. Be careful what you ask for; you just might get it.
All-wise God, I look to you for the discernment to even know what I ought to be asking for in prayer. Guide me into truth and grace so that in everything I will make wise decisions that reflect your sovereignty over the church and the world. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.