1 Samuel 8


‘When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.’ 1 Samuel 8:1-5

Israel Asks For A King

Samuel who is now getting older entrusted the work of God into the hands of his sons Joel, which means, ‘the Lord is God’ and Abijah, which means ‘the Lord is Father’. Sadly, just like Eli’s sons, 1 Samuel 2:12-17, they too became corrupt, they were greedy and took advantage of the offering the people brought to them. They had no respect for their father or his name because they took bribes and ended up distorting judgments because of them.

As a result of Samuel being old and his sons becoming corrupt, everyone wanted a king to whom they could give allegiance too. It’s clear that Israel are now at the stage where they felt more secure with men than they did with God.

They wanted to be like the nations around them, they wanted to have a leader, so that they can be like the other nations. God had been leading them directly for around 400 years but this wasn’t enough for them, they wanted a political leader like those around them.

‘But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day, I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.’ 1 Samuel 8:6-9

After demanding a king, Samuel became upset and prayed to the Lord about it, this is a good lesson for us today. Notice what the Lord tells him, He tells Samuel to listen to the people, but He also points out that it wasn’t Samuel they were rejecting, it’s the Lord Himself, they rejected the Lord as their king.

God knew they would eventually want a leader, a king, Deuteronomy 17:14-20, but the Lord allows them to choose, He never forces anyone to love Him or follow Him.

Throughout the Scriptures the Lord allows people to choose for themselves, Joshua 24:15, but God can use people’s choices, even the bad choices, to bring about the good, Genesis 3:15, ultimately God brought about the Messiah, Genesis 12:1-3, even though His people rejected Him time and time again.

The Lord says His people were rejecting Him, even though the people thought they were rejecting Samuel, Matthew 5:10-12 / 1 Thessalonians 4:8. They wanted a leader whom they could physically see and touch, therefore God was rejected.

‘Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, ‘This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plough his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.’ 1 Samuel 8:10-18

Samuel here make a prophecy concerning their own decision to have a king, other than accepting God as their King and the outcome wasn’t going to be good. The king they would eventually choose, which would be Saul, 1 Samuel 10:9-24.

Saul would become their earthly king and would demand soldiers from the people, he force them into working for him for his benefit, he would take their property for his own benefit, and heavily tax the people.

All these demands of the king would become a great burden to the people, a burden of which generations to come would suffer from, Hosea 8:4. It’s clear from this day of demanding a king, to be like the nations around them, that Israel would always desire a physical king.

‘But the people refused to listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said. ‘We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.’ When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. The LORD answered, ‘Listen to them and give them a king.’ Then Samuel said to the Israelites, ‘Everyone go back to your own town.’ 1 Samuel 8:19-22

As usual after being told by Samuel what dreadful things would happen to them, they refused to listen to him, this shows us just how stubborn the people have become.

We’re reminded that there will be consequences for our decisions, Genesis 3:1-24, and when we read through Israel’s history, we can see that things just go from bad to worse and it begins with Saul.

Go To 1 Samuel 9


"And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Matthew 28:20