Posted inForthright Magazine

Being like everyone else

Why do we feel left out when we aren’t like everyone else? This seems to be one of the major problems that Christians face, both young and old. We think if we can’t do what everyone else is doing that somehow we are missing out. At times Christians compromise what they know to be right in order to go along with what every else is doing. We should admire those who stand up for their beliefs despite what others do!

Wanting to be like everyone else is something that plagued the Israelites. After they left Egypt how many times did they get involved in idolatry? Why would they do this? Because this is what those around them were doing. After settling and living in the land that God gave them they weren’t satisfied with what they had – they wanted to be like everyone else.

“But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said. ‘We want a king over us. Then we shall 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 NIV)

What was the problem they were facing? It wasn’t that they didn’t have leaders – God raised up leaders when they were needed to deliver his people. At that time they had Samuel who was respected by all the people. But the problem was that Samuel was getting old. They looked at his sons and were sadly disappointed: they were not the leader their father was.

“When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.’” (1 Samuel 8:1-5)

How often do the sons of good leaders not follow in the steps of their father? From what we know about Samuel we can be confident that he raised them to follow the Lord. Yet they saw leadership as something they could benefit from – they were in it for the money and what they could get out of it. The Israelites saw that when Samuel was gone they would no longer have a leader. So they asked for a king.

Their desire to have a king was really a rejection of God’s leadership (1 Samuel 8:6-9). It wasn’t that God didn’t want them to have a king – as the nation approached Canaan under the leadership of Moses God had given them directions as to what type of king they could have when the time came (see Deuteronomy 17:14-20). But any king they might have had to be God’s choice. The first king was more their choice than that of God, being based on what they wanted and what Saul’s physical appearance.

But the real problem was the reason they wanted a king: they wanted to be like everyone else. All the other nations had a king to lead them into battle; all they had was temporary leaders that God gave them. They wanted a more permanent leadership. Samuel warned them what having a king would be like (1 Samuel 8:10-18). But the people refused to listen to him. They wanted to be like everyone else.

God granted their request. Saul ended up being a king like all the other nations had. He was more interested in power than he was in serving God.

How often do we get what we want when we desire to be like everyone else? Yet when we come to our senses we miss the safety and security that God provides. Rather then being like everyone else lets strive to be the people that God wants.


Readings for next week: 1 Samuel 3-13


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