Israel had already deviated from faithfulness, but here, she formally rejects God as her Ruler, taking a major step toward being exactly like all the nations around her. This occurred between 1100 and 1000 BC or roughly 350 years after the original making of the covenant. Except for brief periods when Israel had a judge or king who did right in the eyes of God, the spiritual harlotry continued unabated until God formally divorced her, sending Israel and Judah into captivity.
We frequently gloss over the truly important part of this as we read through it. It is clear from Genesis 17:6 and Deuteronomy 17:14-20 that God anticipated Israel having a king or judge. The title is of little importance. Having a king was not the real issue because God had already planned for Israel to have a king. Every organization must have a leader, so God lays down instructions as to how the leader should conduct himself in office. They are designed to ensure that the king does not elevate himself above the people and rule as a despot. Instead, he's to be thoroughly familiar with and guided by the attitudes and laws of God. He must comprehensively know that his own nature is just like those he serves and be humbled.
However, the key to understanding the significance of Israel's demand in I Samuel 8 is that she desires a king just like the other nations. Spiritually, this demand confirms Israel's whorish behavior, and thus God tells Samuel to describe the national effects of her demand. On Israel's part, it's a complete rejection of her marriage vows; she wants her Benefactor and Husband—God—to have no say in her life, declaring herself free of Him and to be completely and totally a nation of this world, no longer the type of God's Kingdom on earth.
The issue between God and man is simply a matter of government—of sovereignty and providence. This appears as early as Genesis 3 when Adam and Eve reject God's rule over them. Once God reveals Himself through His calling, the issue of government comes to the fore. This is what we confront in decision-making. As the Bible has recorded in great detail, mankind has shown that it wants to retain this authority to itself. Yet, the naked truth is, we cannot retain sovereignty to ourselves and still have what God is offering, entrance into the spiritual Kingdom of God. We can't have it both ways. We will be submissive either to God's will or to our own fickle drives.
Many of us don't get it!
"Strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us."
It's our wisdom, as well as our necessity, to beseech God continually to strengthen that which He has wrought in us. It's because of neglect in this, that many Christians may blame themselves for those trials and afflictions of spirit which arise from unbelief.
It is true that Satan seeks to flood "the fair garden" of the heart and make it a scene of desolation, but it's also true that many Christians leave open the flood-gates themselves, and let in the dreadful deluge through carelessness and want of prayer to their strong Helper. We often forget that the Author of our faith must be the Preserver of it also. The lamp which was burning in the temple was never allowed to go out, but it had to be daily replenished with fresh oil; in like manner, our faith can only live by being sustained with the oil of grace, and we can only obtain this from God Himself. Foolish virgins we shall prove, if we don't secure the needed sustenance for our lamps.
He who built the world up! holds it, or it would fall in one tremendous crash; He who made us Christians must maintain us by His Spirit, or our ruin will be speedy and final. Let's, then, "morning and evening" (and "in-between"), go to our Lord for the grace and strength we need. We've a strong argument to plead, for it's His own work of grace which we ask Him to strengthen---"that which Thou hast wrought for us." Dare we think He will fail to protect and sustain that? Let's only let your faith take hold of His strength, and all the powers of darkness, led on by "the master fiend of hell", can't cast a cloud or shadow over our joy and peace. Why faint when we may be strong? Why suffer defeat when we may conquer? Oh! let's take our wavering faith and drooping graces to Him who can revive and replenish them, and earnestly pray,
"Strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us."
For Our Eyes Only
"Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty."
The more we know about Christ, the less we'll be satisfied with "superficial views" of Him; and the more deeply we study His transactions in the eternal covenant, His engagements on our behalf as the eternal Surety, and the fulness of His grace which shines in all His offices, the more truly we'll see the King in all His beauty. Let's be much in such outlooks. Let's long more and more to see Jesus. Meditation and contemplation are often like "windows of agate" (clouded coloring), and "gates of carbuncle" (painful infection), through which we behold the Redeemer. Meditation puts the telescope to the eye, and enables us to see Jesus in a greater manner than we could have seen Him if we had lived in the days of His flesh. Oh...that our conversation were more "in heaven", and that we were more taken up with the person, the work, the beauty of our incarnate Lord. More meditation, and the beauty of the King would flash upon us with more resplendence (dazzle). Ah! it's very probable that we shall have such a sight of our glorious King!...as we never had before, when we come to die. Many saints in dying have looked up from amidst the stormy waters, and have seen Jesus walking on the waves of the sea, and heard Him say, "It is I, be not afraid." Ah, yes! when the tenement begins to shake, and the clay falls away, we see Christ through the rifts, and between the rafters the sunlight of heaven comes streaming in. But if we want to see the "King in His beauty" (face to face) we must go to heaven for the sight, or the King must come here in person. O that He would come on the "wings of the wind"! He's our Husband, and we're "widowed" by His absence; He's our Brother, dear and fair, and we're lonely without Him. Thick veils and clouds hang between our souls and their true life: when shall the day break and the shadows flee away?
Oh, long-expected day, begin!