The people in Israel were wrong to demand that their country should have a king. However, God still gave them what they wanted. He appointed a king, Saul, to rule over them.
Before then, Israel had no king. The people in Israel were free to do whatever they wanted to do (Judges 21:25). Each person was responsible in front of God for his own actions. Each one had a personal responsibility to serve God.
The decision to appoint a king changed the peopleís relationship, not only with each other, but also with God. Of course each person still had the responsibility to serve God. However, the people also had a duty to obey their king. In Israel, the people made a serious promise to their king (Ecclesiastes 8:2). Such promises matter to God.
Samuel emphasised that both the king and the people must serve God. They must respect God and they must obey him. They must not oppose Godís commands; they must allow him to lead their nation. Then God would be kind to his people and he would look after their country. However, if they did not obey God, he would act against them. He would allow enemies to attack their country, as had happened in the past (12:9-11).
We can see the important effect that Israelís king had on its peopleís relationship with God from its later history. For the next 500 years, kings would continue to rule Israel. When the king was loyal to God, the people usually served God. When the king was not loyal to God, most people refused to serve God.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.