Narrative Sermon: God is All-Sufficient!

by on September 21st, 2013
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God is All-Sufficient! He can do anything. He is all-powerful. He is all-knowing. He loves and cherishes his people. He protects and delivers us. He gives us life and heals us. He provides and supplies for our needs. Then, why does it seem that God is not enough for His people?

This is one of the most significant passages in the life and history of God’s people! It possesses great political, social, economic, and most of all, theological consequence. The elders of Israel express their desire to move from a Theocracy to a Monarchy (4-5). They want a potentially oppressive, human king to rule over them, instead of the immortal, invisible God (11-18). Why? Why would God’s people want to go from being ruled by God to being ruled by human king?

A long time has passed since 1 Samuel 7 and the deliverance of God’s people from the Philistines through the mediation of Samuel. Samuel has led the people faithfully and effectively for many years. The theocratic system of judges has worked again. Israel experienced peace for substantial period. What makes the people think that God will not raise up the next judge, like he did with Samuel?

Unfortunately, Samuel’s sons are somewhat like Eli’s sons (1 Samuel 2:12-26). While Eli’s sons were unfaithful in church life, Samuel’s sons were dishonest in judicial life. They were judges, but did not follow after the ways of Samuel. They went after dishonest gain and accepted bribes. Decisions of right and wrong were sold to the highest bidder (3)!

In response to this, and other things, the elders of Israel come to Samuel at Ramah (4). Maybe, it is the corrupt leadership of Samuel’s sons, or maybe, it is the fear of the Philistines that prompts the elders’ request. Regardless, they make an innovative, yet uncritical request to Samuel. Samuel cannot believe what he is hearing! He immediately recognizes the theological implications of their request. The elders ask for a king! They want to be like the other nations around them (5).

BUT, God’s people were never meant to be like the nations around them! The One True and Living God chose them and covenanted with them to be their God, and they, to be His people. They were meant to be different from all of the nations around them, not just theologically, but politically as well. God leads their nation. This request indicates a fundamental departure from their intended identity and character as God’s people!

They did not really understand what they were asking, and Samuel was greatly displeased by the request (6)! He could see the implications, and he prayed! No one likes to feel rejected, but from God’s response to his prayer, Samuel apparently did feel rejected by the elders’ request for a king. God tells Samuel that the people have not rejected you, but Me (7).

What they viewed as political, was really theological. They were not really doing anything new. As a matter of fact, God’s people have followed this same pattern for a long, long time (8). God delivers them from slavery in Egypt, and they forsake him and follow other gods. In the land flowing with milk and honey, they continue this pattern of leaving God (Judges). Now, at the approaching end of a peaceful time in the life of their nation, they depart from the God of peace again. They reject God. Theology and political life are not completely separate.

With a clear disapproval of the request, God says, “Yes, but” (9). God will allow them to have what they want, but there will be consequences! There are always consequences when we choose not to trust God. God instructs Samuel to tell them the consequences (10-18). The key word in this passage is “take.” Much will be taken away from the people by this new centralized government.

Do they realize what having a king will mean? Samuel tells them all of the things that BIG government will take from them. BIG government will take your sons and make them serve in the military. BIG government will take your land and resources. BIG government will take your daughters and make them servants. BIG government will tax you until you become its slaves! From slavery you came and to slavery you will return!!!

All that BIG government will do to the people is negative what it will do for the people is still in question. It will take and take and take from them. Their freedom will shrink and shrink and shrink… smaller and smaller… until it no longer exist. They will be enslaved. Wouldn’t you think that this is the worst of it? But it isn’t! What could be worse than having your sons and daughters taken? What could be worse than having your land and resources taken? What could be worse than high, oppressive taxes? What could be worse than slavery?

What could be worse? When you cry out to God because of your distress and oppression, HE WILL NOT ANSWER YOU (18)!!! And like God will do then to the people, the people do now to Samuel. They hear, but do not listen (19-20). They trade the unimaginable power of God for the imaginable power of man. They trade God’s unlimited resources for their own limited ones. They reject a Divine King for a human one.

In repeating their request, they assert again that they want to be like the surrounding nations (19-20). They still do not understand who they are as God’s people. They reject their perfect King for an imperfect one. Their desire for security and their fear of enemies overrides their trust in God. God would have empowered, protected and delivered them, but they want a human king instead. God grants their request (22).

Do they not realize that the same problem with Eli’s sons, and now, Samuel’s sons, will repeat itself? There will be good kings and bad kings, but I guess that either way, the king will lead them to battle??? Even then, who gives the victory or defeat? Just a few years before, God gave victory with Samuel’s leadership (1 Samuel 7) after having sent utter defeat with Eli’s (1 Samuel 4).

Israel’s victory or defeat never depended upon man’s power and ability, neither does ours. It depends on something much deeper and more important: living in right relationship to God. It’s about faith, trusting God’s work on our behalf in Christ Jesus and in our daily lives.

God is All-Sufficient! Is he personally sufficient for us? Is God sufficient to rule our lives and our church? Why do God’s people choose to reject the All-Sufficient God? Corrupt leadership, threatening enemies, and fears can tempt us to compromise our identity and character, and ultimately, to reject God.

God is All-Sufficient!

Will we believe and trust God or no?

Will we be the people of God or no?

Will we turn to God, or no?

Victory or defeat never depended on us, but always on God. God’s greatest defeat was His greatest victory, and ours. It exhibited His love and devotion for us beyond question. The temptation is always to turn away from God when we should turn to Him. In Christ’s defeat, God won the victory for us!

He conquered sin and death.

The love that we question is unquestionable.

The victory that we desire is undefeated.

The security that we long for is invincible.

Jesus Christ did all of this and more in his death and resurrection.

Our sins forgiven.

Our hope fixed.

Our destiny determined.

Why do God’s people choose to reject the All-Sufficient God? God does for us what we cannot do for ourselves! He embraces, protects, and provides for His children. God is All-Sufficient, but will we trust His sufficiency for ourselves?

May the grace and peace of God keep our hearts faithful to Him, always and forever. AMEN!


THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version.

Brueggemann, Walter. First and Second Samuel. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1990).

I find great inspiration in the sermons of Frederick Buechner and Fred Craddock.

Buechner, Frederick. Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons (New York: HarpersOne, 2006).

Craddock, Fred B. The Cherry Log Sermons (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001).

Lowry, Eugene. The Homiletical Plot: the Sermon as Narrative Art Form (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001).

Lowry, Eugene. Website:

My Narrative Sermons on 1 Samuel:

1 Samuel 1:

1 Samuel 2:

1 Samuel 3:

1 Samuel 4:

1 Samuel 5-6: (This is my first sermon from this passage.)

1 Samuel 7:

While I have reviewed four of Lowry’s books, here is my review of the Homiletical Plot:

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