1748.) 1 Samuel 8

"All I say is, kings is kings, and you got to make allowances. Take them all around, they're a mighty ornery lot. It's the way they're raised." -- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

“All I say is, kings is kings, and you got to make allowances. Take them all around, they’re a mighty ornery lot. It’s the way they’re raised.” — The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

1 Samuel 8  (NRSV)

Israel Demands a King

When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beer-sheba. 3Yet his sons did not follow in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice.

4Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5and said to him, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.”

There was a difference between a king and a judge. A judge was a leader raised up by God, usually to meet a specific need in a time of crisis. When the crisis was over usually the judge went back to doing what he did before. A king not only held his office as king as long as he lived, he also passed his throne down to his descendants. Judges did not make a “government.” They met a specific need in a time of crisis. Kings establish a standing government with a bureaucracy, which can be both a blessing and a curse to any people.

In Judges 8 Gideon was offered the throne over Israel. He refused it saying, “I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the Lord shall rule over you” (Judges 8:23). This was the heart of all the judges, and why Israel went some 400 years in the Promised Land without a king.

–David Guzik

6But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” Samuel prayed to the Lord, 7and the Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.

The British Humanist Society put up these signs on buses and in subway stations in England in early 2009.

Luke 10:16 (CEV)

Jesus said, My followers, whoever listens to you is listening to me.  Anyone who says “No” to you is saying “No” to me.  And anyone who says “No” to me is really saying “No” to the one who sent me.

John 19:15 (NIV)

But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.


from Experiencing God Day-by-Day
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby


The Israelites were to be a nation unlike any other.  Every nation had a king or ruler, but Israel’s king was to be God Himself!  Still, the Israelites complained that they wanted to be like other nations and have an earthly ruler!  As we read about the Israelites, we marvel at their foolishness.  Yet we are prone to make the same mistake, choosing our human wisdom over God’s leadership.

There is much discussion these days about leaders and managers.  According to popular teaching, leaders have the vision and set goals for people or organizations to follow.  Managers handle the day-to-day marshaling of resources under their charge.  In the Christian life, God is the leader of our lives, our families, and our churches.  God sets the direction; He establishes the priorities; He provides the resources.  We are the managers.  We take what He gives us and do with it as He directs.

The biblical term for leader is Lord. As our Lord, Christ has the authority to reveal the direction for our lives.  As Lord, He chooses our careers, leads us to our marriage partners, and helps us set our daily priorities.  We are to be good managers of the mind, body, and spiritual life He gives.

8Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. 9Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”

10So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; 12and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. 15He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. 16He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. 17He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

The Lord gives fair warning! Reasons for a king:  PRO — none. CON — many.

Yet many times we ignore logic because we think we know best and we want what we want! What my mother used to call “woeful stupidity.”

Israel’s Request for a King Granted

19But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, “No! but we are determined to have a king over us,

My mental picture of the Israelites now: “No! No! I can’t hear you and I don’t want to hear you and give me what I want NOW!”

20so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

21When Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice and set a king over them.”

Samuel then said to the people of Israel, “Each of you return home.”



HERE  is “Amazing Love (You Are My King)” — to remind us that we have a giving, loving king in Jesus.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
king chess piece.    http://cdn.playbuzz.com/cdn/c8678684-fb72-4848-8959-ec1302109457/a31a82ec-9a61-46bd-8c10-7783d4a4583c.jpg
“no God” sign.    http://www.dw.com/image/0,,16068028_303,00.jpg
apple and orange.     http://csmanagement.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/apple-and-orange.jpg
boy with fingers in ears.    http://theblackcommenter.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/finger-in-ears.jpg?w=424&h=283

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