1 Samuel 8 is the story of Israel going to Samuel and demanding he appoint a king to rule over them.
At that time Israel had Judges who weren’t kings or supreme rulers. They were chosen by God to help deliver Israel from oppression, administer justice, and settle disputes according to the laws given to Moses. So they were called Judges.
They were a kind of government but somewhat sporadic. Israel had the laws of God to follow and in doing so there was little use for a formal government other than the aforementioned settling of disputes, etc.
Samuel was the last of the Judges of Israel. When he became too old to continue in his duties he appointed his two sons to be Israel’s new Judges, but the boys were corrupt.
In 1 Samuel 8:4-5 the elders of Israel come to Samuel to let him know they are fed up with his sons and their corruption. And after seeing how neighboring nations had a king to rule over them, well the elders wanted one too.
1 Samuel 8:4-5
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 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.”
This upset Samuel, who took it personal. Wouldn’t you, if someone said we’ve had enough or your corrupt children, get rid of them and let’s get someone else to rule over us.
Samuel prays to God and God lets Samuel know not to take it personal, they’re not rejecting you, they are rejecting me, God. I am their king. I have performed miracles and delivered them from oppression ever since I brought them out of bondage from Egypt, but still they turn to false gods. So Samuel, what did you expect?
God has given Israel and all of us what we need to live, but just as the Israelites, we choose not to listen.
God tells Samuel to go ahead and do what they want, but be sure to warn them of the consequences of their actions. Tell them to be careful what they wish for.
1 Samuel 8:9
Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.
So in 1 Samuel 8:10-18, Samuel lays it all out for the Israelites, letting them know about the oppression they are inviting into their lives.
1 Samuel 8:10-18
So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 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. 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. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. 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. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 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.”
Pretty scary stuff.
The phrase which is consistently repeated is, “He will take”. “He will take” a piece of everything you have. And most importantly, he, the king or the government, will take a piece of your freedom.
I read these verses and I wondered, why would a people knowingly, willingly, and being duly warned, make such a request? Why would they be willing to knowingly give up a piece of their freedom?
The answer is in 1 Samuel 8:19-20
1 Samuel 8:19-20
But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But 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.”
And there you have it.
Because they think it will make their lives easier. This king will take care of them. This king will fight their battles. And because they’d like to be just like the rest of the world. They want someone else to take care of them, not be responsible, and to be like their friends.
So Samuel said, okay everyone you have been warned. You’re heading down a slippery slope.
Samuel follows the people’s will as advised to do so by God and anoints Saul as the first king of Israel. But of course everyone is not happy with that decision.
1 Samuel 10:27
But some worthless fellows said, “How can this man save us?” And they despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace.
God gave Israel the law, the commandments and God gave Israel their freedom.
And way back then, thousands of years prior to today, people were willing to sacrifice freedom for perceived comfort and convenience.
There is nothing new under the sun.
© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.