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I Samuel Chapter 8


Memory verses for this week:  Psa 90:14  O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Introduction:  We continue our study on Samuel this week.   In last weekís lesson, we studied about the ark being brought to the house of Abinadab.   It remained there almost 100 years before David saw it brought back to Jerusalem.  Under the leadership of Samuel, Israel defeats the Philistines by the help of the mighty hand of God.


I.                     Israel Demands a Human King

1 Sam 8:1  And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.

1 Sam 8:2  Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba.

Samuel was an old man at this time and perhaps could no longer bear all the burden of judging Israel.   In verse 1, it says that Samuel made his sons judges over Israel.    It says the oldest sonís name was Joel, and the second was name Abiah.   These were the sons that judged in Beersheba.  These sons were somewhat similar to Eliís sons as we read in verse 3.

1 Sam 8:3  And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.

The bible says that Samuelís sons did walk in the ways of Samuel, but rather turned to chase after money.   Money was more important to them than justice, so they turned after it and took bribes and perverted judgment.   There is nothing more discouraging than to have someone in power who will turn from right for a dollar.  These men were more concerned about the money that doing what was right.  This gave the people something to complain about, and the make a request that they be ruled by a king like the other nations.  

1 Sam 8:4  Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,

1 Sam 8:5  And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

1 Sam 8:6  But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.

The sons of Samuel lived so differently from the way Samuel lived that the people noticed it.    Never doubt that others are watching your life and how you live.   Are we setting the right example like Samuel, living a life consecrated for God.  Or do we worry constantly about the things of this world and chase after the ever fleeting dollar.   God help us to love for Him.  To be a Christian and fail to live like a Christian is noticed by the unsaved.   They may very well use your example as an excuse and say ďI live better than that person and Iím not even a Christian.Ē  We should look different from the world, talk differently, and walk differently.

Deu 14:2  For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.

You might read that verse in Deuteronomy and think that the peculiar people was in regards only to Israel.   We are Godís people today, and we have a verse relating to that in the New Testament in Titus.

Titus 2:14  Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

In verse 5, the people say that they want a king to be like the other nations of the world.   God help us when we want to be like the world.    We are not to desire the things of the world, but are to be a spiritual people.

1 John 2:15  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

1 John 2:16  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

1 John 2:17  And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Samuel was not pleased with the people it says in verse 6.   He turns to God in prayer to get guidance and strength.   This pleases the Lord when we do this.    We need to look to God first in every problem we face.   Unfortunately, many times we will show our lack of faith by trying everything we can think of before going to God in prayer.   

Looking over in Deuteronomy, we see that God had made provisions in the law to give Israel a King.   But they were impatient and could not wait on the Lord.

Deu 17:14  When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;

Deu 17:15  Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.

Deu 17:16  But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.

Deu 17:17  Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.

Deu 17:18  And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:

Deu 17:19  And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:

Deu 17:20  That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.

Israel should have waited on God to give them a King in Godís due time.   The Lord did not want Israel to be like all the other nations.   Their longing to be like the other nations was worldly and displeasing to God.   The same is true today in our walk of life.   If we are living for every new fad or fashion, we will be greatly disappointed in life.

1 Cor 7:30  And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;

1 Cor 7:31  And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.

Matthew Henry said this about the desire to have a worldly king.

Make us a king to judge us like all the nations. Thus far it was well, that they did not rise up in rebellion against Samuel and set up a king for themselves, vi et armisóby force; but they applied to Samuel, Godís prophet, and humbly begged of him to do it. But it appears by what follows that it was an evil proposal and ill made, and was displeasing to God. God designed them a king, a man after his own heart, when Samuel was dead; but they would anticipate Godís counsel, and would have one now that Samuel was old. They had a prophet to judge them, that had immediate correspondence with heaven, and therein they were great and happy above any nation, none having God so nigh unto them as they had, Deu. 4:7. But this would not serve; they must have a king to judge them with external pomp and power, like all the nations. A poor prophet in a mantle, though conversant in the visions of the Almighty, looked mean in the eyes of those who judged by outward appearance; but a king in a purple robe, with his guards and officers of state, would look great: and such a one they must have. They knew it was in vain to court Samuel to take upon him the title and dignity of a king, but he must appoint them one. They do not say, "Give us a king that is wise and good, and will judge better than thy sons do,íí but, "Give us a king,íí any body that will but make a figure. Thus foolishly did they forsake their own mercies, and, under pretence of advancing the dignity of their nation to that of their neighbours, did really thrust themselves down from their own Excellency, and profane their crown by casting it to the ground  .[i]


II.  Theocracy is Rejected

1 Sam 8:7  And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

1 Sam 8:8  According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.

Samuel set us a good example of going to the Lord in prayer concerning the request of the people.   Most likely, he was surprised by Godís answer.  God tells Samuel that the people have not rejected him, but they had rejected the Lord.  He tells him to hearken to the people and give them the king they demanded.   They no longer desired that the Lord reign over them.   Things didnít change much in Jesusí day either.   The Jews told Christ that they would not have him reign over them.

Luke 19:14  But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.

In verse 8, God charges them with forsaking the Lord since they came out of Egypt, even to that very day in which they lived.  

1 Sam 8:9  Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.

1 Sam 8:10  And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.

Samuel is given instructions to listen to the people and tell them the manner of the king that would rule over them.   Samuel was faithful to do what God told him to do.   He told the people the very words that God have given him to speak unto them.   We as Christians sure need to learn obedience, and those that preach need to declare the whole counsel of God.

John 14:15  If ye love me, keep my commandments.

Paul was careful to preach the entire counsel of God.

Acts 20:25  And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more.

Acts 20:26  Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.

Acts 20:27  For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

1 Sam 8:11  And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.

1 Sam 8:12  And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.

1 Sam 8:13  And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.

1 Sam 8:14  And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.

1 Sam 8:15  And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

1 Sam 8:16  And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.

1 Sam 8:17  He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.

God gives Samuel instructions to tell the people what will happen when the king begins to reign over them.   Their sons would be taken from them and trained for the kingís service.  They would become servants and soldiers.

The king would also take their daughters to manufacture ointments and perfumes, and to be the kingís cooks and bakers.   The king would also take unto himself their best fields, vineyards, and olive yards.   These would be taken to give to the kingís friends or for use by the king.   And lastly, the king would tax the produce of their fields, vineyards, cattle and servants.    Some of them would be put to the kingís service, while taking the money for his treasury.   Sounds a little like our government today, doesnít it?   Not many people enjoy paying taxes, but we appreciate the good things that come from it.   

1 Sam 8:18  And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.

God warns that in the end, they would become dissatisfied with the oppression they were under, and would cry unto the Lord for the king to be taken away.  However, they receive warning that God would not hear them in that day.   Sometimes God goes ahead and gives us the desires of our hearts, but we lose that close fellowship in our walk with God.

Psa 37:4  Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Psa 37:5  Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.


Psa 106:13  They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel:

Psa 106:14  But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert.

Psa 106:15  And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.

III.  Israel Refuses to Listen to Samuel and Demand a King

1 Sam 8:19  Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;

1 Sam 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.

1 Sam 8:21  And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD.

1 Sam 8:22  And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.

Perhaps the people thought Samuel was exaggerating when he told them what to expect of a king.  They revealed their real motives in desiring a different kind of rule.    They wanted to be like the other nations it says in verse 20.   God had warned them about that in Exodus.

Exo 19:5  Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:

Exo 19:6  And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

To be that peculiar treasure unto God, they had to obey Godís voice and follow in his ways.   What they wanted was a king to be their judge.   They wanted an earthly king to go out and fight their battles for them. 

Deu 1:16  And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.

Deu 1:17  Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.

Deu 1:18  And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.

The people were supposed to look to God who would be the one to fight their battles.   Samuel goes back to God again with his burden, and God told him to go ahead and give the people what they wanted.      As we read earlier, sometimes we get what we ask for, but there is a steep price that we pay.

Psa 106:15  And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.

J. Vernon McGee also saw this the same way.

The children of Israel are gong to have their way. God is going to give them a king. What was true of Israel in the days of Moses is still true. ďAnd he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soulĒ (Ps. 106:15). God will grant Israelís desire for a king, but it will not be to their advantage. Godís guidance of the nation will be indirectly through the prophet. As we shall see, God will not speak directly to the king, but still through the prophet who will convey Godís word to the king. The king will accept it or reject it as he chooses.  [ii] 


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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.


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[i]Henry, Matthew, Matthew Henryís Commentary on the Bible, (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers) 1997.

[ii]J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible commentary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1981 by J. Vernon McGee.