22 And it came to pass that the people desired of them that they should anoint one of their sons to be a king over them.
23 And now behold, this was grievous unto them. And the brother of Jared said unto them: Surely this thing leadeth into captivity.
24 But Jared said unto his brother: Suffer them that they may have a king. And therefore he said unto them: Choose ye out from among our sons a king, even whom ye will.
Earlier this week, we read about one reason to avoid establishing a monarchy: because titles and worldly recognition can be a distraction from the things which bring true happiness into our lives. In the passage above, we see a second reason: because it leads to bondage.
Near the end of their lives, Jared and his brother gathered their people. As we read in the passage above, the people requested a king. The brother of Jared was disappointed by this request. “Surely this thing leadeth into captivity.” Unfortunately, Jared prevailed upon him to let the people have their king.
What did the brother of Jared mean? How would having a king lead to captivity? By choosing a king and committing to follow him, these people were surrendering too many of their freedoms and placing too much trust in one person. When the Israelites later made the same request, the prophet Samuel warned them of the far reaching consequences: This king will take your sons and daughters to be his servants. He will take the best of your crops and your property for his own. The very best of what you own will no longer be yours because the king will have the right to confiscate it. Sadly, “the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us” (1 Samuel 8:19).
Some decisions severely limit our future options and are extremely difficult to undo. For example:
- Church leaders have taught consistently over the years that debt is a form of bondage.
- A choice to participate in a potentially addictive behaviors can result in reduced freedom.
- As President Russell M. Nelson pointed out a few years ago, we can fill our lives with so many commitments that we are no longer free to choose how we will spend our time:
People who choose to work seven days a week are essentially in bondage—to work or perhaps to money, but they are slaves nevertheless. A millionaire who works seven days a week is a rich slave (“The Sabbath Is a Delight,” footnote 5, General Conference, May 2015).
Today, I will be grateful for the freedoms I enjoy . I will also think about the ways that my freedom can be constrained by the choices I make. Just as the brother of Jared warned his people, I will be wary of decisions which will constrain my options in the future. I will make choices which preserve my liberty.