Years ago a national hamburger chain branded themselves as the burger place where eaters could design their own burger, “Have it your way. Hold the pickle, hold the lettuce, special orders don’t upset us. Have it your way.” That successful marketing merely reflected a culture that demanded independence, even in their burger preparation. Soon, other fast food establishments modified their menu options to incorporate this freedom of choice.
Since the Fall, all of humanity cries out for independence, oftentimes to their own hurt. Sadly, the failure of Samuel’s sons to fear the LORD and walk in His ways leads to Israel’s request for a king like the peoples around them. Israel longs for independence from God and He gives them their desire, but not before He describes the consequences of their demanding request. Instead of the God Who gave them all things, their king would be a taker:
- He would take Israel’s sons and conscript them into his army. They would plow and harvest his fields, and they would make his weapons (1 Samuel 8:11-12)
- He would take Israel’s daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers (8:13)
- He would take the best of the fields, vineyards, and olive groves, and give them to his servants (8:14)
- He would take a tax (tenth) of Israel’s harvest for his officers and servants (8:15)
- He would take Israel’s servants and make them his own, as well as their donkeys and sheep (8:16-17)
Israel would “have it your way” and become the king’s servants to do his bidding (8:17). They would gain a king but lose much in the bargain.
Saul, Israel’s first king, takes more than Israel’s possessions; he takes the place of God in their midst. Saul, from his earliest days, makes foolish decisions and disobeys God. He may be tall and look presidential on the outside, but on the inside he is small and faithless. Saul’s exalted view of himself and his small view of God cost him the kingdom as he succumbs to envy, spite, and pettiness. Saul exhibits all of the qualities that characterize those who live independently of God.
God’s mercy is revealed in his choice of a man after his own heart. From his earliest days David lives a life of dependence upon God. That’s his strength. The psalms that he writes reflect David’s trust in the Lord and despair of independent living.
David’s bold faith in the God of Israel shines when he stands before the giant whose presence terrifies all of Israel, including her tall king. David sees an enemy too big to miss and declares, “For who is this Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (17:26). His view of God and defeat of Goliath catapults David into the spotlight, a dangerous place under a small-hearted king like Saul. Like Cain who kills Abel because his deeds are evil and his brother’s are righteous, so Saul seeks to kill David. The Cains of this world always seek to kill the Abels of this world.
Those “who have it your way” must live with the consequences of their way because life is bigger than a hamburger.