During the early days of the nation of Israel, the people came to Samuel and asked to have a king. Samuel was old and his sons were corrupt. Samuel was dejected. But God told him, “They are not rejecting you, they are rejecting Me, that I should reign over them”.

They no longer wanted all the cumbersome obligations of being self-governing. They wanted someone else to take responsibility for their well-being. This, God said, was rejecting Him as their King.

Further, the people wanted to be like other nations. They wanted an earthly ruler to guide them and protect them. They put appearances over reality.

The Lord judged the people the way He usually judges sin: He gave them what they asked for.

But God had Samuel first warn the people. He warned that the king would impose tyranny upon them with high taxes and confiscation of their labors and property. Then, He said, “When you cry out, I won’t listen, because you got what you demanded.” The people said “We don’t care, we want a king.”

The ensuing debacle of King Saul’s reign is a picture of the appearances we strive for versus the truth of what God calls us to. Saul was tall and handsome. He had “the look.” But he did not have the substance.

When the people rejected self-governance, they attempted to shift responsibilities that were properly theirs to someone else. With freedom comes great responsibility. When we refuse to take responsibility, we end up in bondage.

We are often offered illusions, the appearance that freedom from responsibility leads to happiness. It is a lie that leads to bondage. When we commit to be self-governing, to walk in the Spirit and its fruit of self-control, we walk with God as our King. We choose reality over appearance, and in doing so, sow into our own souls seeds that God promises will lead to our fulfillment.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’”
– 1 Samuel 16:7