God’s Leadership versus Human Leadership

Samuel has appointed his sons as judges, but their leadership is corrupt…a sermon on 1 Samuel 8:4-20 (Year B, Proper 7)

The People/Elders

A conspiracy!  They have planned this, rather than listening to God, waiting on his word.  The Elders don’t want to keep going with the current system – they want something new, better!

  • Why won’t they try and make the current system work? …
  • … you don’t make a name for yourself by keeping things the same!

The focus of the elders is ‘keeping up with the neighbours’ other nations.  Nevertheless, in vv19-20 the people want:

  • A tangible, visible leader;
  • To be the same as others – they desire to conform;
  • Someone to make the difficult decisions for them; and
  • They desire for security.

God and His Prophet

Samuel is horrified, (Moses held it together, but now it’s all going wrong on his watch) so he goes to God in prayer immediately.  God is the real authority here, Samuel is only his servant, his prophet; Christian leaders take note!  We see an incredible insight into God’s relationship with his people:

  1. God knows that His people are consistently unfaithful;
  2. Nevertheless, He commands His leader to listen to their demands;
  3. He ensures that they are warned of the consequences; but
  4. He does not force His will on them.

The Prophecy

Samuel warns the people that a king will compete with next-door nations for power and glory, which will lead to war.  Then the people and the economy will be devoted to war, which is costly.  That hierarchy between king and people will be costly – all those layers of self-important people will eat up what once belonged to the people and the 10% tithe to God.  They think that they would get a king to serve them, but they will serve him!

Application

Someone asked the question: ‘how do you explain war to children?’  Here is an answer.  When we humans are not busy loving God, listening to him and giving him the glory, we get busy looking after themselves and our possessions.  Then we begin comparing themselves to others and start looking at our neighbours with suspicion!  So, conflict begins…

Our church leaders may be weak and fallible, and we have those like Samuel’s sons among us, but our hope is not in them.  Our God is pure and can hold power and authority without being corrupted.  We have the Spirit – the mind of Christ – in us, the loving example of Jesus and God Himself.