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Until the time of Samuel, Israel was ruled by divine leadership. God had established a covenant with Moses and it was acknowledged in Exodus 24:7. God’s people had agreed to “all the LORD had said, to be obedient.” My! how times changed. In less than 400 years, the people of Israel rejected God (I Samuel 8:5) as their sovereign leader. No matter how much He brought them through, it just wasn’t enough.
What caused such a big shift? To begin with God’s people weren’t really obedient. It’s kind of like “do as I say, not as I do” sort of thing. Canaanites were still in the land (Judges 3:5) and it wasn’t long before the Israelites were worshipping Baalim and other gods. In addition to this, the tribes were fighting with each other. Abimelech, son of Gideon (also called Jerubbaal), killed his brothers to take over as king (Judges 9:18). He was from the tribe of Benjamin. The men of Gilead and Ephraim were fighting. The Ephraimites got in a spitting contest with Jephthah, the Gileadite, and lost. It’s in Judges Chapter 12. And then the Benjamites were just about wiped out over a Levite’s concubine. It’s a ghastly story that is in Judges 19 and 20.
Samuel was the last of the judges. He installed the first of the kings, Saul. Did it improve anything? A study of these times will show that when a righteous king ruled, the country would do well. When an unrighteous king dominated, it did not go well. In fact, it led to exile.
Mankind, it seems, is on a quest to be free, even from God. Through the centuries one thing seems evident—there is no such thing as total freedom. It always, ALWAYS comes at a cost. Obedience to God in exchange for freedom is little compared to what man requires of man. Rules and laws are overflowing. God only has 10 and Jesus only asked for 2. How hard it that?
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