And the LORD said to Samuel, Listen to their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said to the men of Israel, Go you every man to his city.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Hearken unto their voice.—And for the third time (see 1Samuel 8:7; 1Samuel 8:9) the voice of the Eternal, which Samuel the seer knew so well, used the same expression, bidding the reluctant and indignant old man comply with the request of the people. God had allowed His servant to remonstrate, well knowing all the time what would be the result of his remonstrances.
So now, with the self-same words with which He had spoken to the seer when at the first he laid the petition of Israel before the eternal throne, He finally directs Samuel respecting the course of action he was to pursue on this momentous occasion.
The men of Israel.—That is, to the elders. The words which follow, “Go ye every man unto his city,” show that these elders were in truth a representative body, drawn from the chief centres of the land.
Attention has already been drawn to the perfect trust which the Eternal must have placed in Samuel the judge, seeing that He entrusted him with all the arrangements connected with this vital change in the Hebrew constitution, although his own downfall from power was necessarily involved in it. The confidence of the God-Friend of Israel in their upright judge was evidently shared in by the people. It was to their ruler, to the earthly head of their republic, that they in the first instance carried, through their representative chiefs, their request, which in other words said, “Let kings for the future, and not judges like yourself, rule over us.” The elders of Israel seem to have listened respectfully to the urgent remonstrances of their great judge, and to have deliberated carefully over them, and then, still respectfully, but firmly, to have reiterated their first request, which asked for a king instead of a judge. Again they watched him go alone into the presence of the Eternal, and after the seer’s solitary prayer, the “elders,” at the bidding of their judge, dispersed quietly, each one journeying to his own city. They loved and trusted the patriot Samuel, and though they were ready to depose him, they waited till he should give them a sign.1 Samuel 8:22. Go ye every man unto his city — Betake yourselves to your several homes and employments, till you hear more from me in this matter. Thus he bade them leave the business unto him, intimating, that he doubted not but God would set a king over them. 1 Samuel 8:7, 1 Samuel 8:9 of the expression of God's will in the matter, marks Samuel's great unwillingness to comply with the people's request. Besides the natural aversion which he felt to being thrust aside after so many years of faithful and laborious service, and the natural prejudice which he would feel at his age against a new form of government, he doubtless saw how much of the evil heart of unbelief there was in the desire to have a visible king for their leader, instead of trusting to the invisible Lord who had hitherto led them. But God had His own purpose in setting up the kingdom which was to be typical of the kingdom of His only begotten Son. Deu 17:15, and for the regulation of all the circumstances.
hearken unto their voice, and make them a king; since they will have a king, let them have one, and let them know that they shall have one:
and Samuel said unto the men of Israel: the elders of the people that addressed him on this occasion, 1 Samuel 8:4.
go ye every man unto his city; signifying they might return in peace, and be assured their request would be granted, and a king would be appointed in a short time, and which they might report to their fellow citizens; and they might expect to hear from him quickly, as soon as he had instructions from the Lord who should be their king, which right he had reserved to himself; and therefore in the mean while they might rest contented that they would have one in a little time.And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 22. - Hearken unto their voice. The Divine consent is now given for the third time to their request (see vers. 7, 9). For the will of God ever leaves the will of man free, even when overruling it to the carrying out of some higher and fore ordained purpose. Everything was ripe in Israel for the change, but it was due to the moderation and disinterestedness of Samuel that the revolution was made without bloodshed or armed struggle. Ordinary rulers too often resist a popular demand, and stem back the flowing current of thought till it breaks through the opposing barrier, and sweeps with resistless violence all opposition away. Samuel yielded, and the nation trusted him so thoroughly that they left the choice of the king entirely to him, permitted him to settle the terms and limits of the monarchy, or, as we should say, to give the nation a constitution (1 Samuel 10:25), and treated him throughout the rest of his life with the deepest respect. He was deprived neither of his prophetic rank nor of his judicial functions, for "Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life" (1 Samuel 7:15), i.e. he remained to the last a coordinate power by the side of a king so self-willed and energetic even as Saul. Go ye every man unto his city. Prudence forbade a hasty choice. It would be well to let the agitation subside, or otherwise some busy intriguer among the elders might have managed to get himself selected by the popular voice. We gather from 1 Samuel 10:27 that there were leading men who felt aggrieved when the choice fell on none of them. But how wonderful is the confidence reposed in Samuel by the nation, when thus it left to the ruler whom virtually it was setting aside the choice of the person to whom he should cede his powers.
1 Samuel 8:11, 1 Samuel 8:12. In this way the king would make all the people into his servants or slaves. This is the meaning of the second clause of 1 Samuel 8:17; for the whole are evidently summed up in conclusion in the expression, "and ye shall be his servants."
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