Reflection for Today ▶️ ⏩ ⏹️
Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem in May 2017. Photograph: Ronen Zvulun/Reuters
And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king. / Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.
— 1 Samuel 8:10,19-20
Samuel is like a modern-day, forward-thinking corporate consultant. He is hired to provide a solution to a failing organisation, but once hired his advice is ignored in favour of what the executive team decide is best, what they really wanted to do all along; they hired the consultant merely to agree with them, to endorse their existing beliefs. The 'best' which they strive for is usually based on what they (often inaccurately) perceive other organisations to be doing, or on a myopic vision of 'the right thing to do' according to a set of outmoded ideas of how to run a business. One wonders why they pay the consultant at all.
Samuel offers a litany of all the things that will likely go wrong under an earthly king, He will take your sons...he will take your daughters...he will take your fields, and your vineyards...he will take your servants, and your asses, and your sheep...and ye shall be his servants.1 He even adds And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day.2 But the elders of Israel refuse to listen. Do what we say, they demand. And Samuel does. Sometimes, as God points out to Samuel, people just need to fail to learn. In the story of Israel though, there is no learning. The nation just goes from earthly king to earthly king, and despite the advice of a long series of consultants (aka prophets) never fully surrenders to its true king—even perhaps up until this day.3
1 Samuel 8:11-17
2 Samuel 8:18
3 Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories, Amnesty International, 2020