Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,II. KING SAUL: HIS REIGN AND REJECTION
1. The King Demanded
1. The king demanded (1Samuel 8:4-9)
2. The rights of the king (1Samuel 8:10-22)
The kingly government is now to be established through the deliberate and untheocratic self-determination of the people. Jehovah was their invisible King, and Him they rejected by requesting a king like all the nations. The motives for the demand of a king are three: 1. The old age of Samuel and the unfitness of his sons; 2. The desire to be upon the same footing with other nations; 3. To have a leader and fight their battles (verse 20).
“The state or political organization reaches its highest development when royalty is introduced. The King of Israel is not, however, intended to be an autocratic but a theocratic king; the prophet and the priest, in their official capacity, did not occupy a subordinate, but a co-ordinate rank. As men and as citizens, they were under an obligation, like all other subjects, to obey the king; but with respect to their prophetic and priestly offices, they were dependent on God alone, and by no means on the king” J. H. Kurtz, Sacred History.
Samuel was displeased by the request, but the man of prayer turned to the Lord and received from Him the needed direction. The Lord comforts the heart of His servant “for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” As they did to Jehovah, so the Lord told His servant, do they also unto thee. The servant is identified with His Master. It reminds us of the words of our Lord: “if they have persecuted Me, they will persecute you also.” We are called to share His reproach. And they were to have a King according to their own choice. Later the Lord reminded Israel through Hosea of this event. “I will be thy King; where is any other that may serve thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, give me a king and princes? I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath” (Hosea 13:10-11). Then Samuel describes the manner, literally the rights, of the king. Military service, harsh and compulsory, forced labour and other evils are spread before them. Yet they refused to hearken and the Lord said again: “Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king.”