In the days of the Samuel the judge, Israel decided that they wanted a king like the other nations did. They wanted a king to lead them to war and to judge them. They presented their request to Samuel, and naturally he felt hurt. He had been their judge for many years now, and had been good to them; he wasn’t corrupt or unfair. He went to God and complained about how the people were rejecting him, Samuel. But God pointed out that they weren’t rejecting him at all—they were rejecting God.
God was their King. He was King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He had never done them wrong, yet they listened to the tempter and grumbled against Him, just like their forefathers had in the wilderness.
God told Samuel to let the people have their own way, but to warn them as to the results of their choice. He told them that the king would take their houses, lands, children, belongings, labour, and even lives. This was a contrast to God’s kingship.
Yes, God asked for them to surrender their everything to Him, but then He blessed them so that they had more than when they kept it for themselves. They had it easy, but they lacked gratitude.
Even after God had warned them about the consequences, the Israelites were convinced that they still wanted a king.
The human reaction would be to react likewise with a rebuttal of the Israelites, but God didn’t do that. He loved them too much. He said, ‘If you are sure you want a human king, I’ll step back, but please, let me help you choose a relatively good king so that you don’t have to suffer unnecessarily.’
We are often like the Israelites in wanting our own way instead of following God. God allows us to have our way, even though it hurts Him to see us hurt ourselves, and we then need to ‘behold the way that we have chosen and what we have desired.’ Does God leave us there? No. He still watches over us and warns us that the ways we are going are just going to get worse. He also leaves open the choice to return to Him and promises to welcome us back and forgive us our sins. “Because they have not hearkened to my words, saith the Lord, which I sent unto them by my servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them; but ye would not hear, saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 29:19