He will also take your daughters for perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants. He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and use them for his work. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants (I Sam.8:13-17).
When people make bad choices, it hurts them. It’s bad when it’s an individual doing this, but when it’s a representative group for a whole nation making really bad choices, the impact goes right across the nation. Everyone tastes the pain.
Israel’s leaders embarked on a set of choices. They knew the prophet of God wouldn’t be pleased with this, but they didn’t care. In their stubbornness and pride it didn’t matter what the prophet told them, for they were determined to follow through on their choice to rebel against the Lord, and get this king.
We may marvel at this, but we shouldn’t. We’ve been doing this across the nations now, for generations, and statistics such as GDP have been sagging. Could there be a correlation?
When individuals turn their responsibilities over to government, and say “You do this now,” it’s never the same. When government starts taking responsibility for matters that are the responsibility of the individual, the family and the church, it costs dramatically more, and the quality of the outcome falls like a stone. Rushdoony explained a conversation he had in 1945:
As the evening progressed, he [an American Indian in 1945] grew somewhat serious. As we looked out of the window and saw the kerosene lamps being lit in one cabin after another across the valley, he pointed to them and said, “Look at those people of mine. They’re no good. They’re like me, just no account. All they’re fit for is a reservation or someone puts a fence around them and takes care of them. That’s it. They’re not fit for anything else.”
But, he went on, “I’ve been around the country two or three times now in the last few years, and I’ve learned something: the white man isn’t much better. He has reservation fever now. He wants someone to put a fence around the whole North American continent and take care of him. He wants the government to give him a handout and to look after him just like Uncle Sam looks after us. And he’s going to get it.
Saul would be a taker. Why?
Godless irresponsibility was in the heart of the people. He would need to confiscate taxes to pay for all the bureaucrats who are now doing the work, and bureaucrats are expensive. They say, “I’m irreplaceable, so I’ll charge what I like,” and they do. The welfare State, with the redistribution of wealth by government through taxation, was having its beginnings in Israel.
Like all great redistributers, Saul later tried to hail all this as some great achievement:
Saul said to his servants who stood around him, “Hear now, O Benjamites! Will the son of Jesse also give to all of you fields and vineyards? Will he make you all commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds?”(I Sam.22:7)
Don’t blame the bureaucrats, for they are just the pointy head of the arrow, the shaft of which is a godless and irresponsible people. That’s where the problem really lay in Israel’s day, and that’s where the problem is today. And the church, which is supposed to be salt and light in the community, is just as much a part of the problem.
Every bureaucracy sees itself as the answer to all possible problems. Instead of the free workings of the people, of the market-place, of the churches, families, and institutions of a society, a bureaucracy sees all solutions in terms of bureaucratic action and control. In terms of this, nothing is more dangerous to a bureaucracy than freedom, and the ideas of a bureaucracy and a free people are mutually contradictory.
Having said this, I must add that bureaucracies arise when people and their representatives in civil government abandon responsibilities and self-government…they [bureaucracies] exist because people have rejected the responsibility of freedom for license, for irresponsibility…
Under Saul, taxes went up beyond the amount that God required for His tithe. The State had become more important than God in the eyes of the people. That’s idolatry, but Israel didn’t care, and the church doesn’t care today. So, this will inevitably end in predictable pain. Lots of it.
Has it got to be this way? Yes, until a remnant of the church wakes up, starts doing something about it, and leads the way out of the spiritual and social darkness of high taxes and bureaucratic control. Power flows to those who take responsibility.
Saul would be a taker, and Israel was happy with that. She had rejected her true King for a
godless one, but the sowing and reaping process was now just beginning, and there would be a lot of pain ensuing from this set of evil choices, exemplified when the elders came to Samuel.
The church has not been enthusiastic for centuries about examining Old Testament Israel, because the lessons from Israel have clear application for God’s people today, and learning Biblical lessons hasn’t been important to us.
But God will not be mocked. Good and godly government begins with the faithful application of scripture, and the obedience of God’s people as they take back the responsibilities He wanted us to retain in the first place.
When will we be ready for this?