June 1, 2015—Voices of Liberty writer Ben Lewis makes a strong case Why Christians Should Immediately Become Libertarians. Indeed, there’s a great number of passages in the Bible which reinforce Lewis’ argument. Here, we’ll examine one such passage from the 1st Book of Samuel.
First, let’s briefly look to the book of Judges, two books before Samuel 1, for an indication of Israel’s early political economy:
“In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25).
There was law, but no king, or president. Naturally, this would be appealing to many libertarians, especially to the more anarcho-capitalist-leaning libertarians. Other libertarians prefer a king-of-sorts, with powers greatly limited by a strong constitution and representative government. In the latter category fall some of the founding fathers. Clearly this system hasn’t worked out so well for the U.S., as over time more and more power has been concentrated in the office of the president. With such power comes tyranny. The founding fathers knew this. So did Samuel. As Lord Acton noted: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
This brings us back to the 1st Book of Samuel. The people of Israel wanted a king. So the elders went to Samuel:
“… Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways. Now make us a king to judge us, like all the nations.”
Of course this did not sit well with Samuel. Samuel in his wisdom, understood that greater liberty for the people means greater peace and prosperity for the people, and that it is the nature of kings to crush liberty. So Samuel went to God for advice. The request did not sit well with God either. Nonetheless, God instructed Samuel to give the people their king. He also instructed Samuel to tell the people what to expect from their king:
“Now therefore hearken unto their voice. However, yet protest solemnly unto them and show them the ways of the king that shall reign over them.”
And this is what Samuel told the people to expect from their king:
“This will be the manner of the king who shall reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for himself, for his chariots and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands and captains over fifties, and will set them to till his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectioners and to be cooks and to be bakers. And he will take your fields and your vineyards and your olive yards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards, and give to his officers and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take a tenth of your sheep; and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out on that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.” [1 Samuel 8: 11-18]
Indeed, it is the nature of kings to unleash liberty-crushing war, taxes, and all manner of tyranny on the people. The nature of today’s Big Governments around the world, including the U.S., led by modern-day kings-of-sorts, are no different. The case can be made that U.S. presidents of late have unleashed far more tyranny and destruction than even Samuel could have imagined.
The greater point is that the wisdom of Samuel is especially timely as the U.S. plunges into the mania of the 2016 election cycle. The candidates on both sides are promising all kinds of things, most of which have little or nothing to do with liberty. But the bottom line is that if a candidate is not running to give you more liberty – to cut the size and scope of government intervention into your life – you can expect more of what Samuel described to the people of Israel so long ago. As liberty goes, so goes peace and prosperity.
As I’ve written before, Samuel might imagine the perfect campaign slogan for America today: “It’s the liberty, stupid!”
What would be your 2016 slogan? Sound off in the comments!
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