Friday of Week 1 Per Annum (14th January): I Samuel 8.4-7, 10-22; Psalm 88; Mark 2.1-12
The cry of the people to Samuel was ‘Give us a king like other nations have!’ That cry was a blasphemous denial of the Kingship of God, and a faithless denial of God’s choice of this people for his own. [Exodus 6.7; Deuteronomy 4.8] Samuel went so far as to declare the request ‘a very wicked thing.’ [I Samuel 12.17]
Nevertheless, Israel as a confederation of tribes, each with its own leadership, was no match for the strength of the nations and empires that surrounded it. The word monarch literally means ‘one ruler.’ A king is a unifying force, drawing the hearts and minds of the people together by drawing them to himself. Though the history of the monarchy in Israel will prove a disaster (and the books of the Kings appear to have been written by someone whose outlook was hostile to the monarchy) nonetheless it is presented as a virtual inevitability, a necessary stage in the development of God’s chosen people as a nation.