2. Israel's Husband of Choice
Although the nation of Israel was barren, they had married themselves to a husband. They had placed themselves in the care and protection that their modern world provided. One part of this was the line of human kings they had as their rulers. This started with the institution of Saul as king hundreds of years earlier.
During the time of Samuel, the nation of Israel was becoming established in the promised land, and leaving behind the earlier nomadic existance of the wilderness wanderings for a more established and mature civilisation. As part of this, they started to rely more and more on the power that existance gave them. God responded to this through Samuel, with a call to place their reliance on God and trust in him for their deliverance.
1 Sam 7:3: Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, If you do return to Yahweh with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you, and direct your hearts to Yahweh, and serve him only; and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. WEB
But this wasn't enough for the people of Israel, and they called for a human king to rule over them. This would be a symbol of guidance over them. Someone to lead and protect them in the world of nations.
1 Sam 7:19: But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; and they said, No: but we will have a king over us, 20. that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. WEB
Although there was God himself to fight their battles, they really wanted to be like the other nations around them. There could be a pride in standing up among the nations around and being successful on their terms.
In the case of Israel, they chose the way of humanity to be their husband. God relented, and gave them their desire
1 Samuel 10:17: Samuel called the people together to Yahweh to Mizpah; 18. and he said to the children of Israel, Thus says Yahweh, the God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all the kingdoms that oppressed you: 19. but you have this day rejected your God, who himself saves you out of all your calamities and your distresses; and you have said to him, No, but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before Yahweh by your tribes, and by your thousands. WEB
However, the worldly husband, with a chain of human kings as their leader, proved to be a fickle one. They were soon to find themselves a barren widow in need of redemption.
In the 11th century BC, for a nation, a king provided security along with a figurehead and example to live to. It gave a sense of stability and identity. 3000 years later, as an individual, our natural instincts look in a different direction for our security and measure of success.
Monetary wealth forms one example. It can provide that sense of security in assuring provision of needs in life. It is exemplified by the big barns of superannuation. In a traditional society, a woman would look to a husband as being this source of security. So we can turn to our financial security and human position
Once the basic needs of life are met, people look for some other essentials that are less tangible. There is a sense of companionship and belonging. A woman may rightfully have a sense of pride and maintain position among her peers on account of her husband. Israel wanted a king like their neighbours had so that he could go out before them and give them a sense of pride among their neighbours. We too, can latch onto this, and seek a husband/king like our neighbours have, so that we can retain pride in their eyes. This can be taking on their activities, ambitions and values. These are the cares of this world that keep us up with the Joneses of the world.
It's about having the new car, the new house, the new boat in order to retain status. It's about seeing the movies, going to the concerts and playing the sport in order to be accepted as part of that world.
Israel were given their King to lead them, and the nation rose to a level of greatness, but it didn't bear the real fruit. Looking through the history of Israel, one could say they were barren. It didn't bring about the conditions needed for the fullness of the promises to Abraham to be fulfilled.
Malachi 2:11: Judah has dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah has profaned the holiness of Yahweh which he loves, and has married the daughter of a foreign god. 12. Yahweh will cut off, to the man who does this, him who wakes and him who answers, out of the tents of Jacob, ... 14. Yet you say, `Why?' Because Yahweh has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, against whom you have dealt treacherously, though she is your companion, and the wife of your covenant. WEB