by Mike McKinney
From the series “Weekend Services: 1 Samuel – God’s People Demand a King.
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Today we discuss failure. Losing the game. Dropping the ball. Let down. Things that God would never subject us to, right?
Wrong. False statement.
So why then? Why would God allow us to go so far, only for us to fall flat on our faces?
Seriously? Why would God allow us to have our own way, only for it to hurt us in the end? Imperfections & weaknesses are God’s way of showing us, proving to us, that we need Him. Paul clearly shows this in 2 Corinthians 12. “So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me.”
Paul begged God to rid him of such torture, but God replied, “my grace is all you need, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, when we are weak, we are strong. That is, only when we lean on God as opposed to our own strength…dreams…ideas…what we think best for our lives.
But what happens when we lean on anything else besides God? From personal experience, I can tell you with 100% certainty, that we will fail every single time. Throughout middle school, high school, and even college, I was desperate for a girlfriend. I thought that my life was not complete until I had a relationship. Someone I could love, hold, cherish. Little did I know that I was actually idolizing women. I was controlled. Controlled by my own brokenness and imperfections. As opposed to letting the Holy Spirit and wisdom guide my life, I allowed my sin to get the best of me, and it DID NOT pay off like I thought it would.
Eventually, the girlfriend I finally got turned out to be less than I hoped for. I thought she would make my life great, but she did the opposite. I thought we would pursue great things together, but I went further and further down the wrong path. Needless to say, we were finished, done, broken up. The charade was over, and I was devastated that my hopes and dreams were crushed when my idol fell over.
We all have done this. Young and old, men and women, rich and poor. We all have idols in our lives that distract us from the Truth: God’s love. The worst part is, we will do anything to get it, even to our own destruction. Relationships, money, popularity, success, progress, food. These are all examples of what can tear us apart from the only love we need; God’s love.
This is not new either. In 1 Samuel we see that the Israelites begged God for a king, which became their idol. God wanted to be their only king, but God allowed His own children to suffer the consequences of their sin and to reap what they would sow.
10 So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking for a king from him. 11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. 15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.” 19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, 20 that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the LORD. 22 And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”
1 Samuel 8:10-22
God gave them a fair warning through Samuel, their prophet, but they wouldn’t listen. Their hearts were too darkened by their own wisdom, as opposed to God’s. God never said “I told you so” when their idol, King Saul, failed them. However, the story was written down for us to read so that we do not make the same mistakes.
So what, in your life, are you idolizing? It could be small, like placing a high value on a sports team. It could also be a problem that causes harm, like a bad habit or sinful relationship.
So what are you striving for that opposes God? What do you place too much value on?
Whatever it is, God has shown us how to avoid idols and live pure lives. We must take the love and strength that He offers freely, repent of our idols, and balance our lives properly in the light of God’s wisdom. Whatever your idol is, no matter how many of them you have, God is there for you to help you in your weakness. It may seem impossible to let go of what you have held so dearly, but as you can see in my own life, it is possible.
Here’s some hope. The Israelites eventually got the King that they wanted. His name was not Saul, David, or Solomon. It is Jesus. He made possible what no idol ever could. He blessed us with salvation and unending love from God. He is the only King we need in our lives. We need no idols, only a King, The King.