If you’re a country music fan, you may have heard a song called Unanswered Prayers. The whole idea is that we should be thankful for all the prayers God didn’t answer. So often, we can’t see what God sees and we actually pray for things that aren’t for our good.
Chris dated a girl for 4 years before we met. I bet Chris prayed that he’d marry her… but boy, am I glad God didn’t answer that prayer! Think how surprised I was when a complete stranger came up to me and said, “My son has been dating a girl for 3 years and they’re too serious. Would you like to date my son?” I declined, but this is how I met Chris’s dad. It would be a year later that we’d meet in an unconnected way and begin to date. Only God.
I can also think of times when God did answer my prayer and I soon realized that what I asked for was not what I wanted. At. All. In 1 Samuel 8, the Israelites are in the throws of asking God for something that will actually hurt them. They’re asking for a king, yet God knows this is not what’s best for them.
So, what does God do?
We want the story to pan out in such a way that God protected them and didn’t give them a king, but that’s not what happens. Instead, He sends Samuel to give them one last warning before giving them their wish.
From their perspective, they wanted to be like all the other nations, having a king to go out and fight their battles (1 Samuel 8: 20). Now, we can respond in one of two ways to this. First: “You idiots! Don’t you get that you’re set apart and not supposed to be like all the other nations with their false gods?” Or you might think: “I get it. Peer pressure is real. Don’t we always want to be like someone else, especially if we feel like we’re missing out?”
We know how the story unfolds for Israel. 1 Samuel 8:19 shows us Israel’s mindset:
But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us…”
The thing about Christianity is that it’s a choice. It’s a choice to become a follower of God and it’s a choice to obey Him each and every day. He offers us protection, but we have to choose it.
So, before you and I follow the path of the Israelites at this moment in history, I think it would be wise for us to pause and reflect on two questions:
- What in my life am I insisting on?
- Am I consistently putting myself in a place to listen for God’s instructions and warnings?
Samuel was the one who took his concerns to the Lord. He saw what was getting ready to happen. At this point, the Israelites are in the dangerous place of “group think” and bulldozing through to get what they want.
- Are you being more like Samuel or the Israelites?
I challenge you to learn from the Israelites. Don’t refuse to obey the voice of God. Don’t ignore the warning that the Lord sends your way through wise counsel, prayer, the Word, and circumstances.
God alone truly knows what’s best, wants what’s best, and can give what’s best. Be sure you allow Him access. For your good. Otherwise, you might actually get what you’re asking for…