Freedom is not freedom from responsibility, it’s freedom to willingly take on responsibility.
Read the below and try not to see the similarity between this story in the good old Old Testament and the fearful and the envious demanding they “be lead” and ruled by law this year.
So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”
10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. 22 The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”
(Spoiler: They didn’t like the king much when they got him. Kind Saul was not a particularity nice guy, but then again, most people in positions of awesome power are susceptible to amoral, self-interested actions. Power does tend to corrupt even the most genteel of souls. Moral of the story? Don’t be quick to trade away your agency away for the illusion of safety, or the delusion that central authority is a viable or happy substitute for the burden of personal responsibility and making – and living with – your own choices.)
5 thoughts on ““We want a king””
Great post – Although not that religious I’ve been meaning to attempt to read the King James Version. There are many relevant lessons to be learnt.
Thanks – I agree. The classic religious texts (all major religions, really) are great literary works full of rich, timeless narratives and parables worth reading for their own sake. (And, if you read as a book rather than as a sermon, surprisingly entertaining too).