Long Live the King!

Sermon, Sunday June 10, 2018

1 Samuel 8:4-11, 16-20 4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[a] us, such as all the other nations have.’ 6 But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.’ 10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, ‘This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: he will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[a] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.’ 19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said. ‘We want a king over us. 20 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.’https://stpetri.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/20180610_message.mp3

Something funny happened this week at St Petri.

We had forty five little Pre School children from Redeemer with us for part of a morning. They come every year. We go into the church building and talk about what is in here and why and respond to a million questions!

Then we came across to the hall and did a mini “Messy Church” kind of activity. The kids coloured in and cut out little pictures of all kinds of people and placed them in an envelop that looked like a little church building. One of the pictures they had to cut out was a picture of the pastor (me).

The children were cutting out these little pictures. Sharon asked one little girl who it was in one particular little square (photo of me). The little girl shouted out for all to hear, “That’s Jesus!”! Sharon said, “Well close….!”.

Little kids sometimes do this when you are a Pastor, but everyone knows that the Pastor is not Jesus. No one else can be Jesus. He is the only King of all kings and Saviour of all, no matter what we think.

Getting mixed up with who is the real king of our lives has always been a problem. Here, Israel go searching for a more tangible, more immediate King so they finally could be “just like the other nations”.

To be fair, there is need of a king. Up until this time, Israel had been a loose rabble of 12 tribes ruled by people whom the Lord would raise up from time-to-time (when things got bad enough!) to ensure the nation’s and Abraham’s covenant’s survival (‘Judges’).

The nation’s Elders concluded that something had to change. 1. Samuel’s sons are not like their Dad. Samuel’s boys are more than likely to be as corrupt as they come. 2. Samuel is old. 3. Those agro Philistines are very threatening – all the time!

So they go to the Prophet Samuel and ask him to ask the Lord to anoint Israel’s first king. Samuel is not impressed.

“……this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you……”“….they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you”.

Only the Lord is King; not Samuel, not any other person. Asking for a political and military king shows a lack of trust in the Lord’s promises and presence.

This is blindness too. Asking for a political and military solution to their ongoing ‘heart problem’ of lack of trust and honest appraisal of themselves before the Lord is like choosing to use a straw to eat a big steak. it is the wrong tool for the job!

Their lack of peace, their despair for the future, their fears for the present, their lack of ability to deal with issues facing families, their lack of communal cohesion is not at the core, because they have not got a king, or the right government or enough weapons and cash. At the root is that they,

“forsake me and serving other gods” says the only God and King.

Same for me and you personally? Same for Australia? Same of us as a church? I believe so.

I believe I and we do indeed enthrone all kinds of ideas, people, things in our lives and therefore never get to the heart of the problems we struggle in. We enthrone new ‘kings’. We enthrone old ‘kings’ we have enthroned before. It is our remaining human problem; this ability to deceive ourselves and each other; a certain ‘blindness’.

Remarkably, though, God lets his people have a king. Sort of, anyway. They will have a king, but he will not be like other kings and they will never be like other nations. They don’t need to be.

This king they want will never ever replace God or even be god-like, as kings were generally understood to be in the those ‘other nations. In surrounding nations, the king was ordained by the gods. In fact, the king was god, or at least semi-god.

For example, in ancient Egypt, the highest god was Amon-Ra, the Sun God. Amon-Ra made life revolve each day as he appeared and disappeared and determined the cycles of season and of course – crops and food and water and life. Pharaoh was the Son of Amon Ra –the “Son of God”; a semi-divine being chosen by the gods to rule. Pharaoh ruled by ‘divine right’ because they were ‘chosen from above’.

But here, Israel’s king is never, ever God or even semi God. There is only one King above all kings, and that is the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. The king is mere servant of the people first and foremost and he is ‘chosen from below’ – anointed by the human hands and voice of God’s prophets.

Even with this very different God ordained kind of king over them, God’s people spend a lot of the next decades and centuries getting it wrong.

They put the king above the Lord as Saviour and fixer of all their problems, and kings believed this of themselves.

They replaced kings when the king refused to be enthroned like this. When their king let them down because he could not or would not pretend to deal with the heart problem of lack of repentance and trust in the Lord (as the prophets always proclaimed), they would depose that king and try and find another one who would pretend to be that good!

But all the way through this revolving door of kings, there is this promise by the Lord. One day there will be the complete, perfect, all-powerful king that will successfully deal with it all – the outward issues of war and peace, government and wealth and also the heart problem; the root cause of all our human troubles; our brokenness, our ability to deceive ourselves, our hard-hearted pride and our endless searching for quick fixes in outward things.

God becomes this king himself. And he arrived ‘from as below’ as is humanly possible!

He does not rule by political manipulation and power or technological advancement or by fear and spin. He rules by serving, by the greatest love a human being has ever done – love for the loveless, home for the homeless, forgiveness for the unclean, baptism for the unwashed, holy meal for the unholy disconnected.

He is our king. he is Jesus. Not me or you. We can keep enthroning other kings in our lives like many others do, but it will cost us, as it did Israel.

We can spend an awful lot of energy, heart and time trying to please people, look powerful, pretend we have got it all together only to know deep down that we are empty, shallow, out of puff and a little lost.

I say, let the kings we enthrone fall where they will. Let the gods of our own making be crazy. We need the ONLY king who can be it all, deliver on all promises and guarantee our future of loving acceptance and peace in him.

He is the King of Kings who rules in grace, not law, and the love that casts out all fear.

That little girl got it wrong about me. I am not Jesus! Neither are you. Nor is any other person to be king over our lives.

Jesus the Christ is the only king worth enthroning because only he can truly heal me, forgive me, restore us to community and send us out to where his kingdom exists to serve as he serves, love as he loves, forgive as he forgives and rules as he rules.

The King might be calling you to let go of the kings you think you need and simply throw yourself at his mercy today. Go ahead. There is plenty of it there for you.

Long live the King!

Amen.

CONVERSATION STARTERS (S.O.A.P.)

Pray “Lord, give me a listening heart. Amen”

Scripture Read the text aloud slowly noting images, imagination and questions that arise in you.

1 Samuel 8:4-11, 16-20 4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[a] us, such as all the other nations have.’ 6 But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. 7 And the LORD told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.’ 10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, ‘This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: he will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[a] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.’ 19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said. ‘We want a king over us. 20 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.’

Observation

On ‘kings’ we ‘enthrone’

It is hard to identify the ‘kings’ we enthrone as masters of our activities and decisions in life. This is because of our ongoing problem of self-deception. You can attempt to identify the ‘kings’ to which you go for help more than the promises and presence of The King Jesus;

What is making me angry at the moment

What ideas, things, people, needs, that if someone threatens to take away from you makes you ‘come out swinging’?

What do you spend a lot of money on?

What do you spend a lot of time thinking about and desiring.

What do you pin your hope for a good outcome, a good life on?

What were God’s people pinning their hopes on and for what reasons in this particular text. (Note the last verse spoken by the Elders to Samuel)

Why is Samuel unimpressed by this request and what does the Lord express about this request?

Why do you think the Lord lets them have what they want?

What do you make of the warnings the Lord gives to the people about what this request will cost them.

Application

What are the ‘kings’ I am enthroning in my life costing me at the moment?

Am I will to keep paying that cost?

If not, what will I do to dethrone them and give my life to the Only King of all Kings who can deal with all of me and my life not just the outward things? (Hint: You cannot do this alone. You need a trusted conversation about this with a trusted person of gospel faith and then you need to actually do something physical or even symbolic to dethrone that king). The way the Scriptures say this happens is only be repenting of enthroning kings and receiving the forgiveness and acceptance you already have in your baptism from The King of Kings, Jesus.

Prayer

Jesus, you are my king. You are the Servant King who serves me with forgiveness, hope and love when I can neither earn it or achieve this for myself. I put myself at your feet today. In my life I enthrone you. Help me to serve and love as you serve and love me. Amen

#Pentecost3B #kings #1620 #enthroned #1Samuel8411

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