“The Story—Chapter 10”

“Standing Tall, Falling Hard”

Dave Stone

April 28/29, 2012

©2012 Southeast Christian Church of Jefferson County, Kentucky, Inc.

All Rights Reserved.

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Israel was under the oppression of the Philistines and the Ammonites, and there didn’t seem to be any end in sight for all the wars and struggles with other nations. It seemed to everyone like the problem was that there was no king. So the people tell their priest and leader, Samuel, that’s exactly what they want—a king. God tells Samuel, “It’s not you they’ve rejected; they’ve rejected me” (1 Sam. 8:7), and God tells him in 1 Samuel 8:22, “Listen to them and give them a king.” Israel chose a king over God. And the choice isn’t quite that straight forward even though it seemed to make sense. But the reason it seemed that there was no better option was that Israel was too nearsighted to see the big picture of what God was doing in the world. It all started with making three foolish choices:

Power over Purpose

  • In Genesis 12 when God called Abraham as the father of His new nation, God didn’t just make a nation; He made a nation with a purpose. The way God led Israel, the way they won their battles, the way His power was on display had a purpose: that people would see that God was powerful, not Israel.
  • Here in 1 Samuel 8, the people forget all about purpose. They lose sight of the big picture of what God is doing with their nation, and they make a small choice that leads down a bad road (1 Sam. 8:5, 19-20).

Circumstances over Salvation

  • In 1 Samuel 12, Samuel is going to begin a transition of leadership from himself as God’s representative to Saul as the king, and he is going to give his “farewell speech.”
  • He recapped Israel’s history and told Israel that no matter how powerful and how unfailing God’s salvation had been, Israel consistently allowed their circumstances to overwhelm them, and they become too nearsighted to see what God can do in the big picture.

Options over Obedience

  • Saul started off pretty well as Israel’s first king. He was head and shoulders above everyone else in Israel—literally and figuratively. He obeyed God. He listened to Samuel, and he was fighting the enemies of Israel with God on his side. But all of that changed when Saul was too nearsighted to see the big picture of God’s work in and through him.
  • God sent Saul into battle but told him to destroy everything—people, cattle, sheep, and possessions. But Saul kept some things back to sacrifice to God. He thought this was a good option, but when you choose options over obedience, it’s really disobedience—even when it stems from good intentions (1 Sam. 15:1-22).


Israel’s cry for a new king was marked by a series of nearsighted choices. They couldn’t see that by choosing a human king, they were choosing against God. They couldn’t see that their lust for power derailed God’s purpose for them as a nation. They couldn’t see God’s salvation in the midst of their circumstances. And Saul wanted to create his own option rather than obeying God’s Word. They were too nearsighted to see God’s work in the world. We’re faced with the same questions today—do you want God as your king, or someone else or something else? Will you seek power for yourself, or will you fulfill God’s purpose of blessing others? Will you get caught up in the circumstances of life, or will you wait on God’s salvation? Will you obey, or will you rationalize? God wants to be the king, and He wants to be king so badly that He came down here to prove it. When He was beaten by Roman guards, and He stood silently and endured it, He chose purpose over power. When He was mocked while hanging on a cross suffocating to death, He chose salvation over circumstances. And when He prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done,” He chose obedience over options. And when He walked out of the grave three days later, He proclaimed forever, “I am the only king you will ever need.”