Seek God’s help in choosing local, national leaders

Published 9:14 am Friday, October 24, 2008

Are you tired of the election yet? It is only a few more days until the countless commercials will cease, the campaign signs will go down and the political talk will grow quieter. All of this talk reminded me of a nation a long time ago that struggled with changes in leadership: the nation of Israel.

In the Old Testament times, Israel grew from a family to a small tribe to a nation. They moved from spiritual leaders like Moses and Joshua, then to judges. Some of them honored God, others did not. When the judges seemed to fall short, the people started to look other places for help. They saw how great and powerful their enemies were that had kings. They wondered if they would be better off if they had a king, too!

The Israelites complained to God through their prophet, Samuel. The Lord heard their request, and decided to let them have a try at governing themselves with a king. But God warned them what would happen if they chose a king to lead them, instead of trusting in God. We find the story in the book of 1st Samuel 8:11-18:

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“This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a 10th of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

These words are true, even today, whether we talk of kings or presidents. Our leaders, our governments, build armies and raise taxes! We are even enslaved to a national debt! The burden has grown and continues to do so. Samuel’s message hits the mark, then, as it does now. For Samuel, the future would include a powerful, but a troubled man named Saul who would become their first king, but disobeyed God. Next would be David, who would win many battles for Israel and had the right kind of heart for God. But he too, along with his son Solomon, would find themselves in moral trouble. The nation of Israel would eventually have 41 kings. Only 11 kings followed God at all and seven of those forgot God at the end of their reign. Their spiritual rebellion later led to captivity by foreign nations.

This is a sober reminder for us, even in our day. We find ourselves at war, with an economy faltering, volatile markets, a skyrocketing national debt, greed and injustice. We might be tempted to put all our hopes in a leader that promises to deliver us from our problems. But kings and presidents cannot be our messiah, or savior, only God can save us. Let us pray to God, seeking him first as we choose our next local and national leaders. And may God bless us!