1 Samuel 8

Israel Asks for a King

1 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders.[a]
2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba.
3 But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah.
5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[b] us, such as all the other nations have.”
6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD.
7 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.
8 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.
9 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.”
10 Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king.
11 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.
12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for 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 groves and give them to his attendants.
15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants.
16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use.
17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.
18 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.”
19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us.
20 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.”
21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD.
22 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 Commentary

Chapter 8

The evil government of Samuel's sons. (1-3) The Israelites ask for a king. (4-9) The manner of a king. (10-22)

Verses 1-3 It does not appear that Samuel's sons were so profane and vicious as Eli's sons; but they were corrupt judges, they turned aside after lucre. Samuel took no bribes, but his sons did, and then they perverted judgment. What added to the grievance of the people was, that they were threatened by an invasion from Nahash, king of the Ammonites.

Verses 4-9 Samuel was displeased; he could patiently bear what reflected on himself, and his own family; but it displeased him when they said, Give us a king to judge us, because that reflected upon God. It drove him to his knees. When any thing disturbs us, it is our interest, as well as our duty, to show our trouble before God. Samuel is to tell them that they shall have a king. Not that God was pleased with their request, but as sometimes he opposes us from loving-kindness, so at other times he gratifies us in wrath; he did so here. God knows how to bring glory to himself, and serves his own wise purposes, even by men's foolish counsels.

Verses 10-22 If they would have a king to rule them, as the eastern kings ruled their subjects, they would find the yoke exceedingly heavy. Those that submit to the government of the world and the flesh, are told plainly, what hard masters they are, and what tyranny the dominion of sin is. The law of God and the manner of men widely differ from each other; the former should be our rule in the several relations of life; the latter should be the measure of our expectations from others. These would be their grievances, and, when they complained to God, he would not hear them. When we bring ourselves into distress by our own wrong desires and projects, we justly forfeit the comfort of prayer, and the benefit of Divine aid. The people were obstinate and urgent in their demand. Sudden resolves and hasty desires make work for long and leisurely repentance. Our wisdom is, to be thankful for the advantages, and patient under the disadvantages of the government we may live under; and to pray continually for our rulers, that they may govern us in the fear of God, and that we may live under them in all godliness and honesty. And it is a hopeful symptom when our desires of worldly objects can brook delay; and when we can refer the time and manner of their being granted to God's providence.

Cross References 36

  • 1. Deuteronomy 16:18-19
  • 2. 1 Chronicles 6:28
  • 3. Genesis 22:19; 1 Kings 19:3; Amos 5:4-5
  • 4. 1 Samuel 2:12
  • 5. Nehemiah 9:29; Job 34:27; Psalms 14:3; Psalms 58:3; Isaiah 53:6
  • 6. Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19; 1 Samuel 12:3; Job 8:22; Proverbs 17:23; Psalms 15:5
  • 7. S Exodus 23:2
  • 8. S Judges 11:11; 1 Samuel 11:3
  • 9. S 1 Samuel 7:17
  • 10. ver 19; S Deuteronomy 17:14-20; 1 Samuel 10:19; 1 Samuel 12:12,13; Hosea 13:11
  • 11. 1 Samuel 3:20; 1 Samuel 12:2
  • 12. ver 20
  • 13. Hosea 13:10
  • 14. 1 Samuel 12:17; 1 Samuel 15:11; 1 Samuel 16:1
  • 15. ver 22; 1 Samuel 12:1
  • 16. S Numbers 11:20
  • 17. S Exodus 16:8; 1 Samuel 10:19
  • 18. 1 Samuel 12:10; 2 Kings 21:22; Jeremiah 2:17
  • 19. ver 11-18; S Deuteronomy 17:14-20; 1 Samuel 10:25
  • 20. S Exodus 19:7
  • 21. 1 Samuel 10:25; 1 Samuel 14:52
  • 22. S Genesis 41:46
  • 23. S Deuteronomy 17:16; 2 Samuel 15:1; 1 Kings 1:5; 2 Chronicles 1:14; 2 Chronicles 9:25; Song of Songs 3:7
  • 24. S Deuteronomy 1:15; 1 Samuel 22:7
  • 25. Ezekiel 46:18
  • 26. 1 Kings 21:7,15; Micah 2:2
  • 27. 2 Kings 22:12
  • 28. S Genesis 41:34; 1 Samuel 17:25
  • 29. 1 Samuel 28:6; Job 27:9; Job 35:12,13; Psalms 18:41; Psalms 66:18; Proverbs 1:28; Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 58:4; Isaiah 59:2; Jeremiah 14:12; Ezekiel 8:18; Micah 3:4
  • 30. 1 Samuel 10:25; 1 Kings 12:4
  • 31. Proverbs 1:24; Isaiah 50:2; Isaiah 66:4; Jeremiah 7:13; Jeremiah 8:12; Jeremiah 13:10; Jeremiah 44:16
  • 32. Acts 13:21
  • 33. S ver 5
  • 34. S ver 5
  • 35. S Judges 11:11
  • 36. S ver 7

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Traditionally "judges"
  • [b]. Traditionally "judge" ; also in verses 6 and 20
  • [c]. Septuagint; Hebrew "young men"

Chapter Summary


This chapter relates, how that Samuel being old, and his sons behaving ill, the people desired to have a king set over them, 1Sa 8:1-5, which case Samuel laid before the Lord, and he was directed by him to yield to the people's desire, but at the same time to set before them all the disadvantages and ill consequences that would arise from thence, which he did, 1Sa 8:6-18, but they insisting upon it, nevertheless, he gave them reason to expect that their request would be granted, 1Sa 8:19-22.

1 Samuel 8 Commentaries

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