Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, No; but we will have a king over us;
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The people refused.—The warning words of the prophet-judge were evidently carefully considered and debated in a formal assembly, but the majority at least abided by the terms of their request.1 Samuel 8:19-20. Nevertheless the people refused to obey — This description of kingly government, as then exercised in the East, did not deter them from persisting in their desires. But they still peremptorily demanded a king, although Samuel told them that this demand was, in effect, throwing off the government of God. That we also may be like all other nations —
Strange blindness and stupidity, that they could not see it was their singular felicity that they were not like other nations! Numbers 23:9; Deuteronomy 33:28; as in other glorious privileges, so especially in this, that they had God for their king and governor, who never failed in time of need to raise up men of wonderful worth to be their deliverers. But they wanted a king to go out before them, and to fight their battles — Could they desire a battle better fought for them than the last was, by Samuel’s prayers and God’s thunders? Were they fond to try the chance of war at the same uncertainty that others did? And what was the issue? Their first king was slain in battle; and so was Josiah, one of the last and best. 1 Kings 5:13-18; 1 Kings 12:4. They said, Nay, i.e. these things shall never be, these are but vain suppositions to affright us from our purpose. Thus they are not ashamed to give Samuel the lie, of whose modesty, integrity, and prophetical spirit they had so great assurance, as if he had reigned those pretences merely to keep the power in his own and his sons’ hands.
We will have a king over us; we will have a king, whatsoever it cost us, although all thy predictions should be verified.
and they said, nay, but we will have a king over us; they would not believe what Samuel said concerning a king, even though they were the words of the Lord he delivered to them; and though they knew Samuel was a prophet, and spoke by a spirit of prophecy, and none of his words had ever fallen to the ground: but such was their stubbornness and obstinacy, and so set upon having a king, that one they would have, let them suffer what hardships, or be at what expenses they might; at all events, and against all remonstrances, they were determined to have one.Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. Nevertheless] Simply And.Verses 19, 20. - The people refused to obey - literally, to hearken to - the voice of Samuel. The words of Samuel were no doubt formally considered by the elders, and we may be sure that there would not be wanting men to urge attention and obedience to his warning; but when the decision had to be made, whether by vote or acclamation, the majority persisted in their choice, and for a reason which completely justified Samuel's displeasure; for they say - That we also may be like all the nations. Their wish was not to develop and perfect their own institutions, but to revolt from them, and escape from the rigour of the Mosaic law. It is remarkable that their nearest neighbours and most inveterate enemies, the Philistines, had no king, but an oligarchy of five princes. Probably it had been argued, in the assembly of the elders, that if the whole power of Israel were gathered into one hand it would be more than a match for the Philistines, whose energy must often have been diminished by discords among its rulers. That our king may judge - i.e. govern (1 Samuel 7:17) - us, and fight our battles. Here the people had reason on their side. Both the internal administration of justice and the defence of the country would be better managed under a permanent and regular authority than under the judges, whose rule was extemporised to meet difficulties, and had no inherent stability.
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