Monday, June 22, 2009

It's good to be the king

I'm reading 1 Samuel right now. Definitely my favorite book in the Old Testament. I love the story of David. He is such a perfect, flawed man. But before we get to David, let's consider the social and political conditions of the time before his rise. Samuel is Judge in Israel. His sons aren't the fine upstanding young men they ought to be. And so the people clamor for a king. They don't want to be judged by priests anymore. They call for change. Here's the exact description of the referendum:

"Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations." (1 Sam. 8.5)

The reasons for their change are clear: 1.) Samuel is old; 2.) his sons aren't righteous. Were those the only two reasons, I think they could possibly make a valid case against the current system. But then they add another reason, perhaps the true motive. 3.) so they can be "like all the other nations."

I wonder how this applies to us. Our political system is relatively stable, no where near as bad as many countries who still ballot stuff. I'm not sure about those hanging chads in FL or the 2004 election in OH, but I hope the system is relatively clean. It certainly has many other nations trying to emulate us. In this sense, this scripture is completely not applicable to our situation.

But really, this verse is much less about a people wanting a different political system. It's more about the people of God wanting to be like the world. In this aspect, we have much to worry about. Do I keep myself unspotted from the world? Do I need the latest gadget? The finest clothes? At what point is the money I earn more than sufficient for my needs (and a few of my wants)?

President Kimball warned us years ago:
"In spite of our delight in regarding ourselves as modern, and our tendency to think we possess a sophistication that no people in the past ever had—in spite of these things, we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people—a condition most repugnant to the Lord."

President Kimball goes on to describe us in terms even more appropriate today. Although not perfectly in line with my theme, I couldn't resist quoting this:
"We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel—ships, planes, missiles, fortifications—and depend on them for protection and deliverance... We forget that if we are righteous, the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us... or he will fight our battles for us."
("The False Gods We Worship")

So this is the charge, to leave the world... to not do things just because we want to be "like other nations." I wonder how best to avoid this?

The missing 6 weeks

So with my insomnia tonight, I managed to figure out how many days I'm behind. Only about 45! Considering all that's been going on in my life, I think that a month and a half disappearing is about right. It's not that I don't read my scriptures every day. I've been pretty good about that. It's that these days I have a hard time focusing long enough to read 7 pages a day.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

In those days there was no king in Israel

I'm a little behind. Life has been complicated lately. Luckily insomnia assists in catching up.

I finished Judges tonight. I must say reading the Old Testament gives me hope. The Lord managed you use Gideon, whose faith was shall we say less than unshaken, to save His people. Perhaps I, in my less than perfect faith, can also be of use to the Lord. (I should learn from Gideon's story not to turn away at the last, snared by idols.)

I also am amazed at how long the Lord stood by Samson, who was again not the epitome of righteousness your Sunday School teacher would hold up as an example. Perhaps He will stand by me as well if I had more confidence in Him.