The story of God's people has multiple plotlines, and one is God's plan to make us a kingdom of priests.
God has always called his people to live distinct lives, to be different than other people.
In fact, one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Hebrews was their identity as a community under his direct leadership and authority.
Yet, Israel did not want to stand apart from surrounding nations in this way. They imitated their neighbors instead. They begged for a king to lead the nation, to subdue their enemies, and to resolve their conflicts.
A priesthood where they all must share responsibilities must have seemed like hard work by comparison. Such interdependence would require humility, vulnerability, sacrifice.
So yes, they negotiated with God and got their king, and ironically, under King David’s rule, God’s original plan for a distinctive people found glorious, if fleeting, expression.
Can you imagine the awkwardness of a theocracy? The Jews had to explain their invisible king to their neighbors.
The entire nation moved past the protocols of Moses’ era and briefly brushed up against God’s tangible presence in David’s makeshift tent.
A thousand years before Jesus split the veil of the temple and gave every believer unlimited access to God’s presence, a generation of Jews engaged in worship as a community of priests!