This Sunday we continue our exploration of Community with the second of four questions: what, why, who, how.

Why is community important? Why are relationships with others important? What can we learn? How will it change us? Does it even matter?

In the ongoing story of Samuel, the boy who was called in the temple is now described as old. The people complain that he has lost his influence and seek new leadership. As we read the text, we might see this as misguided, but God tells Samuel to give the people what they want. Are they making a mistake?

1 Samuel 8:4-11, 16-20 (CEB)
4So all the Israelite elders got together and went to Samuel at Ramah. 5They 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.” 6It seemed very bad to Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us,” so he prayed to the Lord.

7The 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. 8They 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. 9So comply with their request, but give them a clear warning, telling them how the king will rule over them.”

10Then Samuel explained everything the Lord had said to the people who were asking for a king. 11“This is how the king will rule over you,” Samuel said:

“He will take your sons, and will use them for his chariots and his cavalry and as runners for his chariot. 16He will take your male and female servants, along with the best of your cattle and donkeys, and make them do his work. 17He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and then you yourselves will become his slaves! 18When that day comes, you will cry out because of the king you chose for yourselves, but on that day the Lord won’t answer you.”

19But the people refused to listen to Samuel and said, “No! There must be a king over us 20so we can be like all the other nations. Our king will judge us and lead us and fight our battles.”

Consider these questions:

  1. Have you ever wanted a change in circumstance that later turned out differently than you expected?
  2. Did you experience this individually, or with others? Both?
  3. What were these experiences like, and – especially if experienced both individually and communally – how did the experiences differ?
  4. If the unexpected result was negative, were you able to ultimately reach a positive outcome? If so, how?