Posted by: pmarkrobb | December 3, 2012

no man is ever a substitute

In the book of I Samuel, the nation of Israel has had enough with the judges, and they petition Samuel for a king.  They look around at the nations surrounding them and want what they have.  After a God-inspired caution by Samuel, the people refuse and emphatically declare, “No!” … “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” (I Samuel 8:19b-20)  God’s reply?  “Listen to them and give them a king.” (v.22)

In the context of our current reading, we witness the transition from Israel’s first king to possibly their best king.  Scholars and believers alike will debate it, but a strong case can be made for David.  In a whirlwind, David is anointed king and goes immediately into battle.  He conquers Jerusalem and defeats the Philistines.  He brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, and God communicates a prolific promise through Nathan.  In every way, David is the “go out before us and fight our battles” sort of king that Israel wanted.  Even God himself would say about David, “…I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart.” (Acts 13:22 NLT).  So maybe the people were right to have demanded a king.

I am pretty sure you would disagree with that last statement.  I know I do.  Why do I disagree?  Very simply, because in demanding a king, the people were rejecting God.  At the end of verse 7 in I Samuel 8, God reassured Samuel, “it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.”  But what about God referring to David as “…a man after my own heart”?  Even in God’s description of David, it is wrong to miss that He calls him a man after His own heart.  And no man is ever a substitute for God.

Read the Psalms, read his prayer in II Samuel 7 … there is no arguing that David was a godly and good king.  There is good reason to study his character and his life, both the good and the bad.

I believe one of the most important things for us to notice in the life of David is revealed in the conversation between Samuel and God.  Although it doesn’t relate to him directly, I believe it gives a bold and necessary pause to us today when we look around and see “David’s” in our own lives.  “David’s in our own lives?”, you might ask.  “We aren’t ruled by kings these days.”  I would humbly suggest that this very real possibility does exist.

Were you at all influenced by the very vocal declarations in the past few election cycles that each was “the most critical election of your lifetime”?  Is there a pastor, a teacher or an organization that you trust implicitly and never question?  Have they written books you refer to and quote more than the Bible?

Who is on the throne in our lives?  I believe the story of the transition from judges to kings in the nation of Israel’s history, and the contrast between the godly and fallen character of David gives us great pause to consider that question.  I pray that you boldly answer “God!”, and that your life speaks that truth.  With the everyday activity and pressures of life, there can be a great temptation for a tangible king in our lives that goes out before us and fights our battles.  Guard your heart, and don’t allow any “man” to be a substitute for God’s rightful place.

I found great encouragement this week in a small paragraph amongst the early pages of The Practice of the Presence of God.  In describing the character at the heart of this small but powerful book, it was written…

“Brother Lawrence wasn’t surprised by the amount of sin and unhappiness in the world.  Rather, he wondered why there wasn’t more, considering the extremes to which the enemy is capable of going.  He said he prayed about it, but because he knew God could rectify the situation in a moment if He willed it, he didn’t allow himself to become greatly concerned.”

No man is ever a substitute for God.


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