Now when Samuel got old, he appointed his sons to serve as Israel’s judges. 2 The name of his oldest son was Joel; the name of the second was Abijah. They served as judges in Beer-sheba. 3 But Samuel’s sons didn’t follow in his footsteps. They tried to turn a profit, they accepted bribes, and they perverted justice. 4 So all the Israelite elders got together and went to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “Listen. You are old now, and your sons don’t follow in your footsteps. So appoint us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” 6 It seemed very bad to Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us,” so he prayed to the Lord. 7 The Lord answered Samuel, “Comply with the people’s request—everything they ask of you—because they haven’t rejected you. No, they’ve rejected me as king over them. 8 They are doing to you only what they’ve been doing to me from the day I brought them out of Egypt to this very minute, abandoning me and worshipping other gods. 9 So comply with their request, but give them a clear warning, telling them how the king will rule over them.” (Common English Bible)
“Heroes, not Kings: The Days of Israel’s Judges,” Week Nine
Today, to end our nine-week summer sermon series on the Judges, a brief history lesson. Especially given our government’s inexplicable ambivalence to accepting Mexico’s formal offer of assistance in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, it seems relevant.
The replacing of Juarez with Maximilian is reminiscent in many ways of Israel’s replacing of the judge—their last judge—Samuel with their first king, Saul. Samuel wasn’t getting any younger, and he was replaced by a far younger specimen who may have looked the part, but was ultimately disastrous for the country he was appointed to lead. And that archetype of a story continues to act as a cautionary tale, all the way up to nineteenth century Mexico and to the present.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
September 3, 2017