Applying the scriptures: Israel ignored Samuel's warning

When Samuel had grown old, the people of Israel decided that they wanted "a king to judge us like all the nations." (1 Sam. 8:5.)

Speaking at the October 1981 general conference on the consequences of the children of Israel pursuing this desire, President Marion G. Romney of the First Presidency said:"The people - rejecting government by judges, which God had established - clamored for Samuel to give them a king. Notwithstanding Samuel's warning that a king would make servants of their children, lay heavy taxes and services upon their backs, and send them to war, `the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel, [saying,] Nay; but we will have a king over us;'

" `That we also may be like all the nations.' (1 Sam. 8:19-20.)

"Samuel therefore anointed Saul to be their king. In due time, just as Samuel had predicted, heavy burdens were laid upon them, their sons and daughters were made servants of the king, and war came. The nation was divided into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, both of which were, in their turn, carried away into captivity. Not only did they lose their political freedom, but their very political existence as nations was terminated.'

"We have a classic example of the loss of economic freedom by the misuse of free agency in the book of Genesis. The Egyptians, instead of exercising their agency to provide for themselves against a day of need, depended upon the government. As a result, when the famine came they were forced to purchase food from the government. First they used their money. When that was gone, they gave their livestock, then their lands; and finally they were compelled to sell themselves into slavery, that they might eat.' " (See Gen. 41:54-56; 47:13-26.)

Commenting on these biblical examples, President Romney said: "We ourselves have gone a long way down this road during the last century. My counsel is that we beware of the doctrine which encourages us to seek government-supported security rather than to put faith in our own industry. Remember Pope's peasant who, having been served the rich man's feast and finding the consequences, complained:

" `An't please Your Honour,' quoth the peasant,

" `This same dessert is not so pleasant:

" `Give me again my hollow tree,

" `A crust of bread and Liberty.' " (Alexander Pope, "The Sixth Satire of the Second Book of Horace," lines 218-21.)

President Romney added: "With respect to the loss of personal liberty through the misuse of free agency, our daily lives are filled with tragic evidence. We see the alcoholic with his craving for drink, the dope fiend in his frenzy, and worse, the pervert with his irretrievable loss of manhood. Who will say that such persons enjoy liberty?

"Notwithstanding the fact that through its misuse, political, economic, and personal liberty are lost, free agency will always endure because it is an eternal principle. However, the free agency possessed by any one person is increased or diminished by the use to which he puts it. Every wrong decision one makes restricts the area in which he can thereafter exercise his agency. The further one goes in the making of wrong decisions in the exercise of free agency, the more difficult it is for him to recover the lost ground. One can, by persisting long enough, reach the point of no return. He then becomes an abject slave. By the exercise of his free agency, he has decreased the area in which he can act, almost to the vanishing point."

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