The only thing worse than not getting what we want is God giving us what we want.
Read / Listen to the chapter:
Read the chapter in an outlined format
1 Samuel 8 (ESV)
1 When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel.
2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel,
and the name of his second, Abijah;
they were judges in Beersheba.
3 Yet his sons
did not walk in his ways
but turned aside after gain.
They took bribes
and perverted justice.
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him,
“Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways.
Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.”
6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.”
And Samuel prayed to the Lord.
7 And the Lord said to Samuel,
“Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you,
they have not rejected you,
but they have rejected me from being king over them.
8 According to all the deeds that they have done,
from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you.
9 Now then, obey their voice;
only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
10 So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him.
11 He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you:
he will take your sons and appoint them
to his chariots
and to be his horsemen
and to run before his chariots.
12 And he will appoint for himself
commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties,
and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest,
and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.
13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.
14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants.
15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants.
16 He will take
your male servants and female servants
and the best of your young men and your donkeys,
and put them to his work.
17 He will take the tenth of your flocks,
and you shall be his slaves.
18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king,
whom you have chosen for yourselves,
but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel.
And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us,
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.”
21 And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people,
he repeated them in the ears of the Lord.
22 And the Lord said to Samuel,
“Obey their voice and make them a king.”
Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city.”
Read the chapter on BibleGateway
1 Samuel 8 Summary
Samuel had restored shalom (a peaceful condition in which everything is the way it's supposed to be) in Israel by leading the people to confess their sins a pledge their full allegiance to the Lord.
At that time, the nation of Israel consisted of 12 tribes, each with its own local administration, but with no centralized authority. By God's design, Israel didn't need a sovereign sitting on a throne or a national defense, because they were His covenant people. He ruled them and protected them.
This is why even though his own sons were shaping up to be corrupt failures, the people's request for a king displeased Samuel (v6). Samuel immediately turns to God for advice. The Lord assured Samuel that it wasn't Samuel being rejected, but in following the same pattern over and over since being freed from Egypt, the Israelites were rejecting God as their king.
Then God said something really surprising: Give the people what they want (v7).
Even after Samuel makes clear the very high price a king would cost them, the Israelite's become even more determined:
There shall be a king over us, 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. - v20
Commentator John Walton makes clear what's going on in this chapter:
The Israelites were mistaken in assessing their problem as a political problem and consequently opting for a political solution. What Samuel seeks to clarify for them is that their problem is not political but spiritual. Their political solution will solve nothing unless it is accompanied by a spiritual solution.
Think of the many current events and issues that bother you. Are the core problems political, or spiritual?
Every problem we face in our society is caused by sin. Even the godliest societies need good politicians and government officials, but the next time you're in a hopeless political argument, fix your true hope on Christ rather than a politician to fight your battles (v20).
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our loving Father guides, guards, and provides for us even though we so often reject Him (v8)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray for wisdom to distinguish between the political and spiritual needs facing our country.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: