The People Demand a King: Bible Survey for New Christians

March 8th, 2009

1 Samuel 8


By occasion of the ill government of Samuel's sons, the Israelites ask a king
Samuel praying in grief is comforted by God
He tells the manner of a king
God wills Samuel to yield unto the importunity of the people

 8:1.  Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel.
 8:2.  The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba.
 8:3.  But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.
 8:4.  Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah,
 8:5.  and said to him, "Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make for us a king to judge us like all the nations.''

 8:6.  But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us.'' So Samuel prayed to the Lord.
 8:7.  And the Lord said to Samuel, "Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.
 8:8.  "According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods so they are doing to you also.
 8:9.  "Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.''

 8:10.  So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king.
 8:11.  And he said, "This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots.
 8:12.  "He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.
 8:13.  "He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers.
 8:14.  "And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants.
 8:15.  "He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants.
 8:16.  "And he will take your menservants and your maidservants and your finest young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work.
 8:17.  "He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants.
 8:18.  "And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day.''

 8:19.  Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, "No, but we will have a king over us,
 8:20.  that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.''
 8:21.  And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he repeated them in the hearing of the Lord.
 8:22.  So the Lord said to Samuel, "Heed their voice, and make them a king.'' And Samuel said to the men of Israel, "Every man go to his city.''


In the times of judges, we know that when God raised up a judge, the people had prosperous times. When that judge died, people fell away. Other judges at times had sons who tried to inherit the leadership that their parent had started, but usually ended up in tragedy. Why? Those sons were not appointed by God. They were not Godly.

In this passage, we read that now Samuel was old, possibly in his 50's. Certainly not the hundreds of years old as his fore fathers like Abraham, and those preceding him. He tried to appoint his sons. Notice that Samuel did the appointing, not God. Samuels sons were evil and were unfair in dealing with the people. The people didn't like it and neither did God.

The elders of the people came to Samuel to demand a king. God's great desire is for each of us to worship him directly. Because we want to know him, and come to him one on one. The era of the judges was proving to be lacking in solid, continuous leadership. God would rather we didn't have an earthly king, and instead have him as our only king. The time had come though, and he let the people have a king.

Samuel didn't like the situation. He felt rejected. He took it to God in prayer. Samuel may have been right to feel rejected over the choice to place his sons in charge, but the true rejection was the people to desire a king, rather than trusting in God as their king.

God allowed Samuel to go about choosing a king, but he also wanted to let the people know all the downsides of what a king would demand. Did you notice all the areas of their lives the king would desire? Ten percent, does that sound familiar? That's the amount that we are taught that we are to put into the offering plate in our worship to God.

The king would demand their sons, to serve him as he saw fit in self serving ways, in military ways, in social service and production. The daughters would be taken to serve in their own way. The land and the crops it produced would be taken to support the kings staff. Even a tenth of the seed is to be demanded. What is the significance of that? Where do new plants come from? Seeds. The king would demand not only part of what they currently had, but of the potential future production.

Things would be so burdensome in serving the king, instead of God, that when they would call out to God for mercy, he wouldn't listen. Hey, they asked for it, and they would get it.

We ask God for things in prayer. He knows what is best and grants, or withholds our requests as he sees fit. He knows what we really need, and what is best for us. Sometimes though, God knows what we are asking for, that thing that we think will really satisfy our desires, and make us happy, and suit our needs, he gives to us anyway. Even though it isn't his desire, even though he knows it won't work. Sometimes we just have to learn the hard way, and he lets us. The people wanted a king to serve, rather than a true spirit God. He was going to let them have it their way.

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