The first expectation that the Israelites had of their earthly king was to provide them with financial security.

The judges who led the nation at the time were corrupt. They only had their own interest at heart. “They were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice” (1 Samuel 8:3, NLT). From the Israelites’ perspective, a king would treat them more fairly and generously. But the Lord warned them to manage their expectations.

In his warning, the Lord tried to remind his people that earthly kings will always have human flaws. And the worst of those often come to light when they get into positions of power. He warned them that human kings will also put their own interests first, like the corrupt judges. Except they would have the power to exploit the Israelites even more. “...some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops..” (1 Samuel 8:12, NLT) “He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves” (v. 14-17, NLT).

But we know that the Israelites did not take the Lord’s warning to heart (1 Samuel 8:19). And not long after their first king was anointed, they found themselves starving to please King Saul (1 Samuel 14). In the heat of battle against the Philistines, Saul placed the men of Israel under an oath not to eat anything until he had full revenge on his enemies (v. 24). How ridiculous to send tired and faint soldiers into combat! Saul’s ego and selfishness were more important than the basic needs of his people. 

The same thing still happens to us today when we trust earthly “kings” for our daily provision. These kings do not refer to literal royal authorities only. It can be anything or anybody that we trust to take over God’s role in our lives. For example, the job that will provide us with financial security, but becomes redundant to increase company profits. Or the husband who should plan ahead for his children’s education, but spends the money on expensive cars he can show off to his friends. Or the money you saved by sacrificing everything dear to you, but never had the time to enjoy.

How do you want God to provide for your daily needs today? How can you make sure that you do not replace Him with an earthly king in your life?

Let us remind ourselves of who our true King is in Christ Jesus. And let us trust Him alone with our requests for the provision of our daily needs. “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus. Now all glory to God our Father forever and ever! Amen” (Philippians 4:19-20, NLT).

Scripture readings:

1 Samuel 8:12-19

1 Samuel 14:24-30

Philippians 4:19-20