and the Lord replied, “Do as they say, and give them a king.” – 1 Samuel 8:22
We all know the great stories of the kings of Israel in the Bible. Especially the stories of David – how he kills the giant, leads Israel to glorious victories, pens songs that are sung to this day, and even becomes the one known as a man after God's own heart (Acts 13:22).
But what if I were to tell you that none of this was the perfect will of God? What if I were to tell you that God's ultimate desire was not have David to be king at all, or anyone else for that matter? You might think I'm crazy, or you might call me a blasphemer, but that's exactly what I'm going to do. God's perfect will wasn't to have a king at all. He was to be their King.
In 1 Samuel chapter 8, the people of Israel come to Samuel, their judge, and ask him to make them a king like all the other nations. Samuel is displeased with their request and takes it before God. Look what God has to say:
“Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer.” – 1 Samuel 8:7
You almost feel the dejection of God in this verse of scripture, like the dejection a good father would feel if his rebellious teenager daughter said to him, “I don't like you anymore!”
God doesn't insist on being their king, even though being their king would be best for them. He sees that this is what they want and so He willingly relents. He gives them what they want.
Now, all these things were written for our sake. We need to learn from these passages of scripture so that we can avoid going down the same path as these people did.
God gave them a king. He even said that he would bless them if they would do right. The first king was a dud, but the second was pretty good. After that there was hardly a good king in all of Israel's history. A few here and there, but none so great as to keep the country from being destroyed by the hands of the Assyrians and the Babylonians. It wasn't until about 400 years later that Israel would completely understand why God didn't want to give them a king like the nations around them. Sitting in exile in Babylon they would wish they had allowed God to be their King.
All of this can teach us a lesson for our own lives. God ways are always best – best for us and best for everyone around us. But God doesn't force His will on anyone, even His children. If you insist on something that you want, God just may give it to you.
“Why?” you may ask. Why would God give me something that's not His perfect will? A couple of reasons I suppose. Maybe He knows that you would resent Him if He didn't, and maybe it would cause you to turn farther away from Him. He would rather have you in His permissible will then to be out of His will entirely. He is a merciful and gracious God.
In Romans chapter 12 we see an interesting scripture:
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2 NIV84)
The way I am going to interpret this scripture may not be entirely correct, but that's ok. I'm not sure that it is incorrect either. But the point I am going to make I see to be biblical, so whether my interpretation of this scripture is correct or not will not take away from the biblical principal that I am talking about.
In this passage Paul talks about the will of God. He mentions three adjectives in relation to His will: 'good,' 'pleasing (gk: well-pleasing),' and 'perfect.' While God's 'perfect will' would also be 'good' and 'well-pleasing,' it is possible that He could be 'well-pleased' with someone although they are not in His 'perfect will.' It is also entirely possible for someone to do some 'good,' without being 'well-pleasing' or 'perfect.'
Does that make sense?
This is all throughout the bible. Most notably in 1 Samuel 8 as we discussed already. God's 'perfect will' was for Him to be king. But God was 'well-pleased' with David. He also mentions other 'good' kings in the books of 1 & 2 Kings.
How great could have the kingdom of Israel had been if they allowed God to be king?? One day we will know.
Another good example would be Samson. Certainly it was not God's best for Samson to have his hair cut and to lose his strength. God's perfect will for his life was not accomplished. But even so, God was still able to use his life to bring judgement to the Philistines. Samson did a 'good' thing when his life ended with a bang, when he brought down the house in his final performance. (See Judges 16)
Recently I have thought to write a book. I have started one actually. I have the subject, I've laid out the chapters and each of the chapters contents. I've even written the introduction. This may sound strange, but I felt like The Lord spoke to me about this book. I felt like He said to me that it would be ok for me to write the book, but it would not be His perfect will for me to do so now. Why? Well, I most certainly could be wrong, but I seemed to get the impression that, because of the controversial subject of this book, I would be launched into the public eye before God was fully ready for me to be. It wouldn't have been His perfect will for me. I may have done some good. I may have even been well-pleasing to Him. But I wouldn't have been in His perfect will.
I want to be in His perfect will.
So what is the point of saying all of this? The point is that I don't want you do be deceived. God may give you exactly what you want, but don't think that because He does that it is His best for your life. And don't think that just because He uses you that it is a sign that you are in His perfect will. It's not. The bible talks of those who prophesied, cast out demons, and did mighty works in His name that were cast into Hell. God use does not mean God's approval, or God's best.
Be careful what you ask for, God just may give it to you.
And while all this is a warning, it should also be reassuring. Even if you royally mess up, God can still be well-pleased with your life. Give your brokenness into God's hands and He can do an awesome work with it. Even if you were to miss God's perfect will, you can still stand before Him and hear the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Glory to God!
Seek after God's perfect will. With His help you can achieve it. Do not settle for less than God's best. Those who seek to save their lives will lose it. Lose you life for God's perfect will and you will most certainly find true life.