|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
8:4-9 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.
Verse 6. - But the thing displeased Samuel, and justly so. For, in the first place, they had determined to have a king without consulting the will of God. Granting that it would give them the security necessary for the nation's welfare and progress, yet so weighty a matter ought not to have been decided without an appeal to Jehovah. Samuel did make it a matter of prayer; the elders were actuated solely by political motives. And, secondly, they undervalued their own religious privileges. They wanted a king such as the heathen had, whereas something far better and higher was possible for them, namely, a king who would be the representative of Jehovah, as the shophet had hitherto been. The nation's real need was not a new power, but the permanent organisation of what up to this time had been a casual authority. And it was Samuel's high office to give the nation this, while he also changed the outward form of prophecy, and made it too into an orderly institution. A king to judge us. I.e. to govern us, as the shophet or, judge had done, only in a more regularly constituted manner. And Samuel prayed unto Jehovah. There had been no such submission to the will of God on the part of the elders; but deeply as Samuel must have been hurt by this determination of the nation to take the government out of the hands of himself and his sons, yet he leaves the decision to Jehovah. Moreover, we must note that it was as prophet that he thus acted as mediator between the people and God; and he gave them his services in this his highest capacity as faithfully when the question was one injurious to himself as he had ever done on more pleasing occasions.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But the thing displeased Samuel,.... Not that they called him an old man, and suggested that he was incapacitated for his office, nor for observing the unbecoming walk of his sons, but for what follows:
when they said, give us a king to judge us; what displeased him was, that they were for changing their form of government, not only to remove it from him, and his sons, but from the Lord himself, who was king over them; the ill consequences of which, many of them at least, he easily foresaw, and which gave him great uneasiness, both on account of the glory of God, and their own good; insomuch, as Josephus (y) says, he could neither eat nor sleep, but watched all night, and spent it in prayer, as follows:
and Samuel prayed unto the Lord; to know his mind and will, and what answer he should return unto them.
(y) Ut supra, (Antiqu. l. 6. c. 3.) sect. 3.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6-10. the thing displeased Samuel when they said, Give us a king to judge us—Personal and family feelings might affect his views of this public movement. But his dissatisfaction arose principally from the proposed change being revolutionary in its character. Though it would not entirely subvert their theocratic government, the appointment of a visible monarch would necessarily tend to throw out of view their unseen King and Head. God intimated, through Samuel, that their request would, in anger, be granted, while at the same time he apprised them of some of the evils that would result from their choice.
1 Samuel 8:6 Parallel Commentaries
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