1 Samuel 8

Listen to 1 Samuel 8

Israel Demands a King

1 When Samuel became old, 1he 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 2but turned aside after gain. 3They took bribes and perverted justice.
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at 4Ramah
5 and said to him, "Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. 5Now 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, 6for they have not rejected you, 7but 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 8and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them."

Samuel's Warning Against Kings

10 So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking for a king from him.
11 He said, 9"These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: 10he 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 11to 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 12He 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[a] 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, 13but the LORD will not answer you in that day."

The Lord Grants Israel's Request

19 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, "No! But there shall be a king over us,
20 14that 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, 15"Obey their voice and make them a king." Samuel then said to the men of Israel, "Go every man to his city."

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 15

  • 1. Deuteronomy 16:18
  • 2. [Exodus 18:21]
  • 3. [Exodus 23:8; Deuteronomy 16:19; Psalms 15:5]
  • 4. [See 1 Samuel 7:17 above]
  • 5. ver. 19, 20; [Deuteronomy 17:14; Hosea 13:10; Acts 13:21]
  • 6. [Exodus 16:8]
  • 7. 1 Samuel 10:19
  • 8. See ver. 11-18
  • 9. 1 Samuel 10:25; See Deuteronomy 17:16-20
  • 10. 1 Samuel 14:52
  • 11. See Genesis 45:6
  • 12. 1 Kings 21:7; [Ezekiel 46:18]
  • 13. Proverbs 1:28; Isaiah 1:15; Micah 3:4
  • 14. ver. 5
  • 15. ver. 7; [Hosea 13:11]

Footnotes 1

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO FIRST SAMUEL 8

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