Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired. And take note, the Lord has set a king over you. If you fear the Lord and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the Lord your God. (1 Samuel 12:13-14)
Serve The King But Fear The Lord
When the prophet Samuel was old, he set his sons to judge Israel, but his sons did not walk in his ways. The elders of Israel came to Samuel and demanded he give them a king like all the nations. Samuel was displeased with the lack of faith on the part of the people, but God told him to establish a king for the people. God reminded the prophet the people had not rejected Samuel. They had rejected God. A man of Benjamin, whose name was Kish, had a son who was a choice and handsome man. From his shoulders upward, he was taller than any of the people. His name was Saul, and he would become the first king of the united kingdom of Israel. The people had been given a king as they had wished to be like the nations around them.
At the coronation of Saul, Samuel instructed the people to the dominion of their new king. He reminded them that God had established Saul as king, and they were to obey him as the nation’s leader. Samuel warned the people the king would tax them and take their children for his servants as he oppressed them. The people wanted a king, and God gave them what they wanted. When they went to war, their king would lead them. Israel would now be like the nations around them, but they had one condition to obey. God gave them a king, but they must fear the Lord and serve and obey Him. The king was required to keep the commandments of the Lord. Having a king did not release the people from serving God. Honor the king and obey the Lord.
The downfall of Israel began when Saul thought too highly of himself as king of Israel. Soon after he began ruling God’s people, the king waited impatiently on Samuel and offered an unlawful sacrifice. Later, Saul was told to attack Amalek and utterly destroy all they had and spare no man, woman, child, or animal. Saul disobeyed the Lord’s command, sparing King Agag’s life and the best of the flocks. God demanded the king obey Him. Saul refused.
Israel desired a king, but Samuel reminded the people they must obey God. Saul ruled for forty years and was followed by David and Solomon before the kingdom was divided north and south. Many kings ruled over the nation of Israel, with the majority refusing to obey God. This did not excuse the people’s actions from being faithful to the word of the Lord. The prophets charged the kings, princes, priests, and leaders of the nation for being corrupt, but he also charged the people for their disobedience. Samuel brought the people a king and told them they must fear the Lord, serve Him, obey His voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord. They had a charge from God to be obedient even if Saul and the other kings did not.
The early church faced persecution from religious leaders. When pressed for an answer, the apostle Peter told the Jewish council obedience to God superseded obedience to them. Peter knew the importance of honoring civil law, but he also remembered obedience to God was the higher law, and the apostles served the will of God. God establishes government, and the people of God are commanded to honor those who rule and respect the authority of government. However, the rule of God is higher than the law of men, and obedience to the Lord is of greater consequence. The only time the Christian can disobey the law of the land is when that law usurps the authority of God. This does not apply to the Constitution of the United States and the amendments. Men must fear the Lord and serve Him and His law. Samuel told the people to serve the king but fear the Lord. That is the same principle for Christians. The laws from Washington, D.C., must be obeyed with respect and honor. Fearing God and serving His word takes first place and precedence.