Dejected and depressed, Samuel turns to the Lord with the elders’ appeal. Not satisfied with governance by judges, they demand a king. Perhaps their dissatisfaction has something to do with Samuel’s sons, whom he has appointed judges but who “do not walk in [Samuel’s] ways.” The Lord says that the people are not rejecting Samuel; they are rejecting the Lord.

The elders disclose another reason for wanting a king: to be “like other nations.” But why? Maybe their envy of other nations is actually a quest for power. A king is always on the throne, always in control. But the system of judges is not about perpetual leadership. Judges step in to settle disputes as they arise. There is freedom in that, but freedom can be frightening.

Perhaps the demand for a king is a demand for assured dominance against other peoples. There is security in authoritarian leadership; but it is a precarious security, dependent on the whims of the leader. Leaders can be good or bad, as much of the books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and the prophets outline.

Samuel names the potential dangers: conscription of children, confiscation of property, imposition of capricious taxes, seizure of employees, and even slavery. But the people still want a security that they believe kingship brings.

In this passage, the Lord Yahweh models a different kind of leadership by saying, “Give the people what they have asked for,” even before describing for them the dangers their request can bring. The All-Powerful One demonstrates the value of leadership that is not steeped in power.

Each of us can exercise that kind of leadership in our lives. Each of us can set an example, can live purposeful lives, can live lovingly even in the midst of uncertainty.

Yahweh, remind us that we can lead in our own lives. Remind us of the model of leadership that respects everyone. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 3:20-35

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Lectionary Week
May 31–June 6, 2021
Scripture Overview

We sometimes struggle to believe in the power of a God we cannot see. The psalmist declares that God is greater than any earthly king and will preserve us in the face of our enemies. However, in the time of Samuel, the Israelites demanded a human king to lead them into battle. God was not enough for them. Paul admonishes the Corinthians not to repeat this mistake. We should not think that what we see is the ultimate reality. What we see is temporary; what cannot be seen is eternal. Perhaps Jesus is teaching a similar idea in this somewhat troubling passage in Mark. Jesus is not against family, but he is emphasizing that human families are temporary; spiritual family is eternal.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read 1 Samuel 8:4-20. How are you influenced by the culture around you? What helps you try to align your priorities with God’s?
Read Psalm 138. When you “walk in the midst of trouble,” how do you remember God’s presence with you?
Read 2 Corinthians 4:13–5:1. How do you find yourself being renewed today in spite of parts of your “outer nature” that may be “wasting away”?
Read Mark 3:20-35. Who is your spiritual family? Whom do you identify as your brothers, sisters, mother, and father?

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