There Is Danger In Getting What You Asked For
Biblical text: 1 Samuel 8:4-7, 10-20
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, 5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make 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 unto the LORD. 7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
10 And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king. 11 And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. 14 He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his friends. 15 He will take a tenth of your harvest and distribute it to his favorites. 16 He will demand your slaves and the finest of your youth and will use your animals for his personal gain. 17 He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 You will shed bitter tears because of this king you are demanding, but the Lord will not help you."
19 But the people refused to listen to Samuels warning. "Even so, we still want a king," they said, 20 "for we want to be like the nations around us. He will govern us and lead us to battle."
We do not always get what we want. I guess it would be nice to have your own way all the time...or would it? I remember as a young child pestering my parents for a puppy. Every day I would go to the pet shop and drool over the tiny little adorable creatures in the window. I went home every day and begged my parents to let me have a dog. I promised to train the dog, walk the dog, feed the dog and play with the dog. My parents finally gave in and bought me a puppy. He was adorable, but he was a handful, as most puppies can be. He messed up the house for almost two months before I finally got him trained. He ate a few of my favorite toys. He chewed up my bedroom slippers. He pestered me to go outside at the most inopportune times...like when my favorite TV show was on, or it was time for me to go to bed. And then the worst thing of all happened. He grew up. He was not a puppy anymore, and I was still a little kid. So he dragged me around the neighborhood like his own personal pull toy. When I tried to get out of taking care of him, my father said, "Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it!"
Of course, I was young and did not know what was best for me. I only knew what I wanted, or at least I thought I did. That's the trouble with most of us. We know what we want, but we often do not know what is best for us. And we end up learning the same lesson I learned as a child...there is danger in getting what you asked for.
Our desires are formulated by a world that lives by different standards. The world offers possessions, riches, recognition, honor, position, authority, power, pleasure, recreation, and a host of aphrodisiacs to entice us. Now, I am not a hater of worldly things UNLESS those things become the focus of our lives. Or worse, unless we twist the benefits of this world and make them evil.
In our text, the Israelites focused on the ways of the world, and it became a tragic mistake. The driving motivation of their hearts became the ways of the world, not God and His righteousness. For thirty-plus years, the Israelites had followed the leadership of Samuel. But now Samuel was an old man, and the Israelites craved a new leader, one who would rule as a king just "like all the other nations." Since the days of Moses, they had lived under a theocracy, the rule and reign of God Himself. In fact, under Moses' leadership, the Israelites had made a covenant, an agreement with the LORD. The terms of the agreement stipulated that the LORD was to be the Savior and Deliverer, the Protector and Provider of Israel. And all the Israelites had to do was obey the Lord and keep His commandments. But now, after centuries of observing the heathen nations around them, the Israelites began to covet the form of government adopted by ungodly nations. They desired a king just like every other nation. God had promised them a KING, and they were determined to have one...NOW!
But their desire for a king had deeper ramifications that they did not consider. They didn't realize that they would be breaking their covenant with the Lord by running ahead of God. They didn't pause to consider that they would be making an agreement with some charismatic man rather than God's appointed leader for Israel. They wanted this man to be just like the kings of most other nations: an attractive man, a man who would agree to rule over them and become their savior and deliverer, protector and provider. Their desire for a king became a craving, a lust that made them stubborn, stiff-necked, and hardhearted. They insisted; no, they DEMANDED a king just "like all the nations." And they got just what they asked for.
The 21st century did not invent the superstar syndrome. It's been part of man's sin nature since Adam. All the legendary leaders in the bible were not God-appointed as we find out in our text. Some of them were crafted from the desires of man's heart. Samuel is led by the Lord to anoint Saul as king of Israel. But Saul soon proved that he could not follow God's direction, and his reign eventually turned out to be a nightmare for Israel. Samuel lived long enough to choose Saul's successor before he died, but little David was still a harp player, so Israel would have to wait for deliverance from King Saul. In the meantime, Israel suffered unnecessary oppression under the reign of an insane king. And when David came of age, the battle that ensued between Saul and David split the nation of Israel. All of this was because Israel got ahead of God. They desired a king, and they wanted him NOW. Be careful what you ask for...you just may get it!
How many of you know that there is danger in getting what you asked for?
First, there is danger in running ahead of God.
When the formal delegation came to ailing Samuel from Ramah, with their demand for a king, they must have been acting on all the talk around the kingdom. And yet not a whisper of their gossip about Samuel's age had reached his ears. Instead, their demands came across like harsh language flung at him without warning. It's not pleasant for anyone, least of all a leader, to be told that everybody wants you OUT.
What's worse was that Samuel HAD made provision for a successor in the choice of his sons as heirs to his rule as judge of Israel. But apparently that did not sit well with the Ramah delegation either. They had their own batch of political wisdom to stir up. So Samuel laid aside the nomination of his sons in favor of a full-blown king. After all, judges presented their own inconveniences, not the least of which was their lack of power accept through an unseen Lord. And since judges had no successors, and much time could elapse before God appointed another, Israel could have been left with no guiding arm to defend it.
On the surface, there was nothing wrong with the Israelites desire for a king. God Himself had even made provisions in His law for the appointment and rule of a king over His people (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). But it was Israel's motive that was suspect. They wanted to break their covenant with God and be like other nations.
So even though Samuel was insulted by Israel's displeasure with his idea of hereditary rule, and knowing that Israel would be breaking its covenant with God, like a good, wise man Samuel took his trouble to God; and there he received a solution to his dilemma. Since the Israelites were rejecting their Deliverer, Protector and Provider, God said, "Give them what they want. I'll just have to teach them the hard way!" That's what happens when you run ahead of God and interrupt His divine plan for your life. You end up taking the rough road.
The sin of idolatry is pretty strong in this story. Israel wanted a king who would "go out before them" and visibly "fight their battles" rather than rely on the unseen Deliverer who had brought them this far by faith. It's the same sin that befell them when Moses left Aaron in charge in the wilderness and the people built a golden calf to worship. And it's the same sin that befalls us when we run ahead of God. We begin to put all of our trust in our own abilities, our careers, our education, our bank accounts, or our weekly lottery tickets. Remember the parable of the man whose overflowing barns became his idols?
Second, there is danger in being obstinate toward God.
Samuel prophetically shared with Israel the type of king who would reign over them. He paints a somber sketch of the only kind of king the Eastern hemisphere knew. The darkest part of a monarchy is left out. There is no harem, no cruelty, no monstrous vice. But Samuel paints the picture God gives him, of a world transformed from ministry to royal pomp, heavy taxation of their land, a standing army, and forced labor. He tells them that the royalty they desire will one day become a burden, and he warns that the yoke they desire will be easier to put on than to take off, because when they holler, the Lord will not hear. And yet, the Israelites obstinacy or stubbornness shows in their persistent demands.
There is nothing sadder than watching a Christian ignore the certain consequences of his rebellious behavior. Willfully blind, and driven by his own lusts and passions, like a bull who shuts his eyes when he charges, he rushes at his mark and dashes himself to pieces. If we would all consider the consequences of sin the moment we are tempted, life would be so much sweeter. But this is the wonder in it all...that while we cannot see way down the road to our destruction, even though we do KNOW better, our knowledge has no power to restrain us, once we are driven by our own carnal impulses.
- You know you shouldn't drink...but one drink with the boys won't hurt.
- You know it's wrong to lie...but IRS will never know.
- You know it's wrong to go clubbing on Saturday...but you can't take ALL the fun out of life.
- You know it's wrong to gossip...but you saw it with your own eyes, so you're just spreading truth.
And what happens next? You suffer the consequences.
- One drink leads to two, and three and four.
- IRS decides to audit your tax return.
- Your Saturday night escapades keep you from Sunday morning worship.
- Your telephone Olympics keep you from productivity.
And here comes the worst part. You say, "God, why did you let this happen to me?"
Tell me there has never been a time when you blamed God for something YOU did, and I will tell you that you are not being totally honest. Temptation can make you obstinate or pigheaded. Just like the Israelites who got their due reward, we will certainly get ours.
Third, there is danger in refusing to let God lead you.
God heard Israel's foolish demands, and He gave them what they wanted. He tells Samuel to "hearken to the peoples voice". The Lord left no room for Samuel to argue against His decision. The reality here is that God WILL let you have your own way and "be filled with your own devices" (Proverbs 1:31). In His sovereignty, God knows that the surest way to disgust men with their own folly, is to let the chips fall where they may. Like little children in a sweet shop, the Lord will let you have your fill of the world's candy, until it makes you sick. "Go ahead, try it" He says, "and see how you like it."
God is not being unkind. When He has tried with His Word, and preached through His Spirit, and you still persist in getting your way, there is nothing more for Him to do than let you have your own way. It's called Free Will. The prodigal son got his coveted worldly portion, and was allowed to go into a far country to experience the joy of dining with swine, not because God was angry with him, but because that experience was the only way to re-awaken his dormant love for God, and make him long for that "once-despised" place in his father's house.
God does the same thing with us. Like a sick child whose fever has to run it's course, God watches and waits while we eat the bitter fruit of our granted desires, until we learn our lesson and are well again. And the only way to avoid the sickness is to keep a careful watch over ourselves, to be sure we are not entertaining wishes that are perpendicular to God's plan.
So you see, there is danger in getting what you asked for.
It is far better to hear and heed God's direction for your lives. "No Christian who goes to war for the Lord entangles himself with the affairs of the world, because every Christians desire should be to please God who has chosen him to be a solder." (2 Timothy 2:4 paraphrased).
Titus 2:12-13 says that we should deny "ungodliness and worldly lusts" and live "soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ".
Be careful what you ask for. You just might get it. Why not make the decision today to forsake the world and all of its lusts, and instead become part of:
An acceptance that can never be questioned. (Ephesians 1:6).
An inheritance that can never be lost (I Peter 1:3-5).
A deliverance that can never be excelled (2 Corinthians l:10).
A grace that can never be limited (2 Corinthians 12:9).
A hope that can never be disappointed. (Hebrews 6:18, 19).
A bounty that can never be withdrawn. (I Colossians 3:21-23).
A joy that need never be diminished (John 15:11).
A nearness to God that can never be reversed (Ephesians 2:13).
A peace that can never be disturbed (John 14:27).
A righteousness that can never be tarnished (2 Corinthians 5:21).
A salvation that can never be canceled (Hebrews 5:9).