|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 do: 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 menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle 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, and the LORD will not answer you in that day." (1Samuel8:10-18)|
Samuel warns them about the dangers of earthly, structural power. He warns them that an earthly king will not only create societal order, organise military power and establish economic structure, but he will do it for himself.
- Sons and Daughters will run in front of the king's chariot.
- The Israelites will plow and tend the king's fields
- They will be heavily taxed and this will all go into the hands of the growing number of the king's attendants
- They will become the king's slaves
Recently we have seen the "gravy train" that many politicians have climbed on to and even more recently we have learned of corporate CEO's who earn anything from fifty times to five hundred times as much as the lowest paid worker in their companies.
It seems that earthly power comes with the endless need for more...
The Israelites wanted a king.
Samuel warned them that kings are corruptible.
Some people would argue that one needs leaders and that they are worthy of good remuneration and that this creates a pyramid of jobs and services that result in a situation where people are able to "find their niche" and "play their part" in the economy.
What their argument does not consider is that power corrupts.
The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
Samuel warns Israel that this will be the nature of the monarchy.
By the time of Israel's third king, Solomon, taxation was already so high that the advisors advise his successor Rehoboam to reduce the taxes. Rehoboam refuses and the kingdom is torn in two after only 3 kings.
But it's not monarchy that is the problem.
Jeremiah disturbed the power base of the false prophets.
Jesus disturbed the theological power base of the Pharisees.
Luther disturbed the power base of the church hierarchy.
It is power that is problematic... and we should take heed...