“And the people said to Samuel, ‘Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves’”1 Samuel 12:19
After suffering years of conflict with their neighbours, who had kings, the people of Israel thought that they should also have a king. The conflicts arose because Israel turned from following the Lord; but the conflicts were the means the Lord used to bring them to repentance and renewed faith. Each generation had to learn this anew.
Israel had God as their King, but they were not satisfied with the way things were going for them. They didn’t want the attacks from neighbours – and reasoned that a great king would prevent the attacks. They did not recognise that this was a spiritual war and that the physical wars were serving God’s objectives for Israel.
The Lord had warned them through Samuel on several occasions not to seek an earthly king and told of the costly consequences, but they persisted. We notice that this was a trait of Saul also (13:12). He felt compelled to act even against what he knew to be the command of the Lord (13:13).
In demanding a king, Israel was rejecting the will of the Lord. They were following the way of the world when they should have been leading the world in God’s ways. When Christians follow the ways of the world instead of leading the world in the ways of the Lord we sin in the same way as Israel.
What we observe in the verse above is that Israel eventually realised their sin and repented of it. In God’s grace He forgave them but He did not remove the consequences – and those consequences would bear a great cost to the nation. Samuel records that cost in 8:11-18. There would be great economic loss; there would be great loss in family relationships (due to the military and public service); and worse, there would be great spiritual loss, “The Lord will not hear you in that day” (8:18).
When we sin, forgiveness is available if we truly repent and confess that sin to God. Our fellowship with Him will be restored. However, the consequences of that sin will often remain. Remorse will demand that the consequences be removed; a contrite heart accepts whatever the Lord grants. Words spoken cannot be taken back and deeds done cannot be undone. Better to obey the Lord from the outset.