1Sa 8:5  They said to him, "Look, you are old, and your sons don’t follow your ways. So now appoint over us a king to lead us, just like all the other nations have."
1Sa 8:6  But this request displeased Samuel, for they said, "Give us a king to lead us." So Samuel prayed to the LORD.
1Sa 8:7  The LORD said to Samuel, "Do everything the people request of you. For it is not you that they have rejected, but it is me that they have rejected as their king.
1Sa 8:8  Just as they have done from the day that I brought them up from Egypt until this very day, they have rejected me and have served other gods. This is what they are also doing to you.
1Sa 8:9  So now do as they say. But seriously warn them and make them aware of the policies of the king who will rule over them."
1Sa 8:10  So Samuel spoke all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king.
1Sa 8:11  He said, "Here are the policies of the king who will rule over you: He will conscript your sons and put them in his chariot forces and in his cavalry; they will run in front of his chariot.
1Sa 8:12  He will appoint for himself leaders of thousands and leaders of fifties, as well as those who plow his ground, reap his harvest, and make his weapons of war and his chariot equipment.
1Sa 8:13  He will take your daughters to be ointment makers, cooks, and bakers.
1Sa 8:14  He will take your best fields and vineyards and give them to his own servants.
1Sa 8:15  He will demand a tenth of your seed and of the produce of your vineyards and give it to his administrators and his servants.
1Sa 8:16  He will take your male and female servants, as well as your best cattle and your donkeys, and assign them for his own use.
1Sa 8:17  He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will be his servants.
1Sa 8:18  In that day you will cry out because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the LORD won’t answer you in that day."
1Sa 8:19  But the people refused to heed Samuel’s warning. Instead they said, "No! There will be a king over us!
1Sa 8:20  We will be like all the other nations. Our king will judge us and lead us and fight our battles."
1Sa 8:21  So Samuel listened to everything the people said and then reported it to the LORD.
1Sa 8:22  The LORD said to Samuel, "Do as they say and install a king over them." Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, "Each of you go back to his own city."

In the history of God’s people there is a tendency to erect people or things to go between us and God because we are uncomfortable with the idea of God’s direct governance in our lives.  Is the same impulse that led people to make idols like the Golden Calf (Exo 32:4).  While the democratic ideals of our society do colour our perception of church authority, so does the sinful tendency to place someone in between God and us.  The shadow of this “protective covering” also shields us from interacting directly with God because we really don’t want him.  We want a tamer version of God as mediated through people.

In Covering Theology people are not directly accountable to God.  They are directly accountable to their human authority.  These authorities are not so exacting and precise as a direct relationship with the Holy Spirit.  While some find the though of being accountable to anyone as repugnant there are others who shrink back from taking responsibility for their own actions and their own lives.  Covering Theology enables these people to be lulled in to a false sense of security thinking they are submitted to God but in reality they are anything but.   (See Luke 12:42-58).

For many years Israel functioned without a king.  Every one did what was right in their own eyes (Jud 21:25).  When the people wanted to change this and have Samuel appoint a King God said “for it is not you they have rejected, but it is me that they have rejected as their king.”  We know from the rest of the story God did appoint Saul as king and it was a disaster.  God’s heart really wasn’t in it.  He warned the people and then he acquiesced to their desires.   This is another example of how God’s doesn’t universally enforce his rule on people.  God lets people make their own bad decisions. 

God’s heart has always been that He would be our God and we would be His people.  At times he gone along with our desire to mediate that relationship through Kings, priests, ceremonies, rituals and laws but they have always been a shadow, a proxy, a fuzzy connection between us and Him.  It is an imperfect union. 

We see God’s desire for the direct connection come out in the scriptures such as:

  • 1Tim 2:5 For there is one God and one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human,
  • Heb 8:11 “And there will be no need at all for each one to teach his countryman or each one to teach his brother saying, ‘Know the Lord, since they will all know me, from the least to the greatest.
  • 1John 2:27 Now as for you, the anointing that you received from him resides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, it is true and is not a lie. Just as it has taught you, you reside in him.
  • 1Peter 2:4 So as you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but chosen and priceless in God’s sight, 2:5 you yourselves, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood and to offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ

It is difficult to believe that after so many years of trying to strip away the layers humanity has tried to erect between itself and God that he would design an ecclesial system to put those layers back in to place.