And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.
1 Samuel 8:4-8
The Book of Kings is also the Book of Samuel, not merely because the individual man was the last of the judges and poured the anointing oil upon the first two of the kings, but because he represented in his own person a power and a position which were quite different from theirs, and yet which could not be rightly understood apart from theirs.
I. Samuel was a witness that a hereditary priesthood derives all its worth from a Divine presence, which is not shut up in it or limited by it, and that without that presence it means nothing and is nothing, nay, becomes worse than nothing, a plague and cancer in the society, poisoning its very heart, spreading disease and death through it.
II. The signal downfall of the nation which took place in Samuel's day, when the ark, the symbol of the people's unity, was captured by the Philistines, prepared the way for great national changes. Samuel's reformation awakened in the people a sense of order to which they had been strangers before. But Samuel's sons did not walk in his ways. They were self-seekers; they were suspected of taking bribes. The effect of this distrust was just that which proceeds in all ages from the same cause—dissatisfaction, a cry for change, a feeling that the fault of the person who administers implies some evil or defect in that which he has to administer. The degeneracy of Samuel's sons made the people long for a different sort of rule, for one which should be less irregular and fluctuating.
III. The request for a king displeased Samuel because he had a sense that there was something wrong in the wish of his countrymen. He may have felt their ingratitude to himself; he may have thought that his government was better than any they were likely to substitute for it.
IV. God's answer to Samuel's prayer was a very strange one. "Hearken unto them, for they have rejected Me. Let them have their way, seeing that they are not changing a mere form of government, but breaking loose from the principle upon which their nation has stood from its foundation." The Jews were asking for heavy punishments, which they needed, without which the evil that was in them could not have been brought to light or cured. But beneath their dark counterfeit image of a king was hidden the image of a true King reigning in righteousness, who would not judge after the sight of His eye nor reprove after the hearing of His ear, but would smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips would slay the wicked.
F. D. Maurice, The Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament, p. 1.
References: 1 Samuel 8:5.—Parker, vol. vi., p. 280. 1 Samuel 8:6.—Ibid., vol. vii., p. 62. 1 Samuel 8:6-9.—G. B. Ryley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 237. 1 Samuel 8:19.—J. Van Oosterzee, Year of Salvation, vol. ii., p. 422. 1 Samuel 8:22.—Parker, vol. vii., p. 62. 1Sam 8—Homiletic Magazine, vol. vii., p. 118. 1 Samuel 9:11-13.—Expositor, 2nd series, vol. vi., p. 245. 1 Samuel 9:20.—H. Hayman, Sermons Preached in Rugby School Chapel. p. 29. 1 Samuel 9:27.—J. Thain Davidson, Talks with Young Men, p. 17; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvi., No. 1547; Preacher's Monthly. vol. v., p. 62. 1Sam 9—W. Hanna, Sunday Magazine, 1865, p. 21. 1 Samuel 10:6.—Parker, vol. vii., p. 63. 1 Samuel 10:9.—Ibid., vol. vi., p. 290. 1 Samuel 10:12.—Old Testament Outlines, p. 62; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 284. 1 Samuel 10:24.—Parker, vol. vi., p. 299. 1 Samuel 10:26.—J. Burns, Sketches of Sermons on Special Occasions, p. 153. 1Sam 10—R. Lorimer, Bible Studies in Life and Truth, p. 71; W. Hanna, Sunday Magazine, 1865, p. 105; Homiletic Magazine, vol. vii., p. 167. 1 Samuel 11:14.—Parker, vol. vii., p. 64. 1Sam 11—Ibid., vol. vi., p. 305. 1 Samuel 12:1.—F. W. Robertson, Sermons, 4th series, p. 14. 1 Samuel 12:1, 1 Samuel 12:2.—S. W. Skeffington, Our Sins or Our Saviour, p. 214; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 28. 1 Samuel 12:1-25.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 336. 1 Samuel 12:2, 1 Samuel 12:3.—J. R. Macduff, Good Words, 1862, p. 524; Sermons for the Christian Seasons, 2nd series, vol. ii., p. 681. 1 Samuel 12:7.—Parker, vol. vii., p. 65. 1 Samuel 12:10.—Ibid., p. 66. 1 Samuel 12:12.—Bishop Woodford, Sermons on Subjects from the Old Testament, p. 66. 1 Samuel 12:14.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 125. 1 Samuel 12:16, 1 Samuel 12:19.—W. Spensley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvi., p. 59. 1 Samuel 12:17.—R. Heber, Parish Sermons, vol. ii., p. 25.
Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba.
And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.
And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.
Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.
And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.
Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;
That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.
And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD.
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.