1 Samuel 8 Study Notes


8:1-2 The sons’ location in Beer-sheba at Israel’s southern edge suggests Samuel did not intend to abdicate his role in Ramah just because he had appointed his sons.

8:3 Samuel’s sons turned out to be much like Eli’s sons (cp. 2:12).

8:4-5 The elders still appreciated Samuel’s leadership; in fact, they wanted him to appoint a king for Israel. The observation that Samuel was old recalls the situation with Eli (2:22). The elders knew they could not count on his leadership much longer. The words as all the other nations contradicted God’s desire that Israel be distinct (Lv 20:26; Dt 4:6-8), though the law of Moses did allow for the establishment of a king (Dt 17:14-20).

8:6 Samuel probably considered their demand wrong because it appeared motivated by a desire to conform to the pattern of other nations. Nonetheless, he prayed for the Lord’s answer.

8:7 Samuel felt personal hurt and rejection because of the people’s desire for a king, but God informed him the issue was much deeper.

8:8 Israel’s rejection of Samuel’s leadership was tantamount to rejecting God’s leadership.

8:9 The words solemnly warn could also be translated “strongly testify”; they sound a somber note in the midst of a message of acquiescence. Explaining the customary rights of the king denotes a challenge to count the high cost the kingship would bring the people.

8:10-11 On rights of the king, see note at v. 9. Chariots is actually singular both times, suggesting the duties mentioned in this verse pertain more to the king’s personal honor guard.

8:12 The king would also need a strong military, and he would draft into service the sons of his subjects.

8:13 Daughters likewise would assume roles, often demeaning, that would support the royal lifestyle.

8:14 Subjects could expect to lose some of their assets to support the king’s servants.

8:15 The law of Moses commanded tithes to support the priests and Levites, but a king would demand that much or more to meet his desires.

8:16 The king would want the best of human resources to accomplish his work (e.g., his various building projects), and he would take what he wanted.

8:17 The king’s additional desire for a tenth of the people’s flocks would impact the shepherds of the land as well as the farmers (v. 15). The heavy burden the people would have to bear to support the monarchy might well leave them feeling like servants instead of citizens.

8:18 On cry out, see note at 4:13.

8:19 To listen to could be translated “to obey.” The people had heard Samuel’s words, but they would not heed them. They were determined to have a king.

8:20 The words like all the other nations (see note at vv. 4-5) again sound ominous. Furthermore, the people’s expectation of their leader was too grandiose—they thought a king would do everything for them. They saw the potential benefit, but they had not counted the cost.

8:21 To the Lord is literally “in the Lord’s ears.” As in prayer, Samuel told God what he already knew.

8:22 The Lord told Samuel to appoint a king over the people. The Lord’s judge and prophet instructed everyone to return home to wait for God’s leading on the matter.