Yesterday, I posted some fairly lengthy material on Judges 8 and 1Samuel (“Summary from the 8s: Observations from Ancient Israel’s History“). Here is the conclusion, followed by a short expansion on the point of what I take as God’s concession in granting Israel a King.
Two realities seem clear:
- Judges 8: The record of the time of the Judges starkly shows Israel’s faithlessness and lack of loyalty.
- 1Samuel 8: The origin of Israel’s Kings reveals the beginning of what became a progressively bad scenario: God’s people were looking (a) less to God and (b) more to humans as their leader. Having essentially forgotten the Exodus with its Red Sea, the cloud-by-day and fire-by-night, the manna and quail, and the initial conquests, the people wanted a human king. And God conceded.
I present the following as a pretty good summary of an underlying concept:
God is sovereign ruler of His people. When His people reject Him in one way or another, negative things occur. His sovereignty will be seen, but not always in the way the people expect or desire.
On the point of “concession” as suggested in point #2 above: many reader-interpreters have inferred God’s approval, thinking that He must’ve looked favorably on the idea of a human king, or He would not have allowed it. God, though, is in some senses an “open” God, listening to humans, interacting, and even “changing His mind” on occasion. He allows many things He does not approve of. His sovereignty is not threatened by human decision or input; the fact that He allows our discretion does not change the ultimate reality that He is God. On the contrary, His actual sovereignty is enhanced because He does not force it on people.
I believe that God did not want His people Israel to develop into a kingdom with a human king—but that He allowed that development, anyway. He yielded, in a sense, acceding to the people’s will and granting them another king.
Other examples of God’s allowing bad decisions (but continuing to work despite them) can be seen throughout biblical literature. Consider these examples, and add your own:
- the choices of Lot and his wife
- the actions of Joseph’s brothers
- the hardening of Pharoah’s heart
- the murderous rampage of Herod
- the treachery of Judas
For a bit more on an “open” view of God, see here: