As I’ve been thinking about the times and the season we are in in our country, especially regarding the election of a president to lead the nation, I’ve been drawn to an account in the book of First Samuel. I think there are some insights we can gain from this section of God’s Word to help us pray biblically over America and then act in our civic duty to vote, first in the primary election and then in the final election.
Please take a couple of minutes and read I Samuel 8 and then read on.
We get the setting in the first verse. The people have been betrayed by ungodly leaders who have done many wrong things. People are angry, and they’ve hit the wall. They’ve obviously felt powerless and abused and instead of turning to God for solutions to right the wrongs, they rise up with a passion to put in power over them a person they create in their own minds who will be like God to them. He will fight their battles for them. This person in their minds is all powerful, he will set everything right that is wrong, and most of all, as they identify with him, he will make them feel powerful, like the head and not the tail, like the in-charge folks and not the pushed around ones.
Bottom line—they want power, even if it is the illusion of power, and they want it from a man not God. If they look to God for the power, they would have to become part of the solution to the problems that exist. It would cost them partnering with God, and that involves time, intimacy with God, energy, sacrifice, and a change of priorities and passions.
Putting in place a big, overpowering “make-it-happen” type man as king let’s the disgruntled, angry, resentful people feel powerful as they take their place as armchair warriors shouting, “So there!” to everyone they think is messed up. It’s a bit like sitting on the sidelines of a football game drinking beer and shouting, “Hooray!” for big brute men running over the top of their opponents. It feels so very powerful and self-satisfying. The armchair warriors just want their team to win so they can walk out of the stadium feeling on top and not on the bottom.
That attitude of “Just find a guy who’s big, loud, pushy and unstoppable and we don’t care how he does it, we just want him to take charge and back off the bullies we don’t like”…that attitude leads God to say, “Have your way.” That is never what we want to hear God say to us, or to our nation. Never.
There’s a great difference between a worldly king and a godly leader for a nation. God told Samuel to be very blunt with the people about what putting a worldly king over them would mean, and it was awful for everyone except for the king, who himself would gain massively. A worldly king believes he rules the people so the ends of whatever he has in mind to do will justify the means from his perspective. That will never work out well for the people. A godly leader, in contrast, serves the people and is keenly aware of being answerable for his/her actions to a Leader higher than himself/herself.
And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant.” Mark 10:42-43
Principles for voting:
Don’t ever vote reactively for someone out of your worldly anger and resentment. You’ll for sure choose a king.
Don’t vote for someone who believes the desired end justifies using any means possible to achieve it. If a person has a track record of being proud, of using unscrupulous means to come out on top, run away from him/her.
Don’t look for a larger than life figure to vote for who you think will fight your battles for you so you can sit on the sidelines and go about your life undisturbed.
Do look for a person who humbly and truthfully acknowledges they are answerable to God for their actions.