1 Samuel 8

1 When Samuel was old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abijah. They were judges in Beersheba. 3 His sons didn’t walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. 4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together and came to Samuel to Ramah. 5 They said to him, “Behold, you are old, and your sons don’t walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” Samuel prayed to the LORD. 7 The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they tell you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me as the king over them. 8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, in that they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so they also do to you. 9 Now therefore listen to their voice. However you shall protest solemnly to them, and shall show them the way of the king who will reign over them.” 10 Samuel told all the LORD’s words to the people who asked him for a king. 11 He said, “This will be the way of the king who shall reign over you: he will take your sons, and appoint them as his servants, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and they will run before his chariots. 12 He will appoint them to him for captains of thousands, and captains of fifties; and he will assign some to plow his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and the instruments of his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers, to be cooks, and to be bakers. 14 He will take your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, even their best, and give them to his servants. 15 He will take one tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give it to his officers, and to his servants. 16 He will take your male servants, your female servants, your best young men, and your donkeys, and assign them to his own work. 17 He will take one tenth of your flocks; and you will be his servants. 18 You will cry out in that day because of your king whom you will have chosen for yourselves; and the LORD will not answer you in that day.” 19 But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No; but we will have a king over us, 20 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.” 21 Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. 22 The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice, and make them a king.” Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Everyone go to your own city.”

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–3

It does not appear that Samuel’s sons were so profane and vicious as Eli’s sons; but they were corrupt judges, they turned aside after lucre. Samuel took no bribes, but his sons did, and then they perverted judgment. What added to the grievance of the people was, that they were threatened by an invasion from Nahash, king of the Ammonites.

Verses 4–9

Samuel was displeased; he could patiently bear what reflected on himself, and his own family; but it displeased him when they said, Give us a king to judge us, because that reflected upon God. It drove him to his knees. When any thing disturbs us, it is our interest, as well as our duty, to show our trouble before God. Samuel is to tell them that they shall have a king. Not that God was pleased with their request, but as sometimes he opposes us from loving-kindness, so at other times he gratifies us in wrath; he did so here. God knows how to bring glory to himself, and serves his own wise purposes, even by men’s foolish counsels.

Verses 10–22

If they would have a king to rule them, as the eastern kings ruled their subjects, they would find the yoke exceedingly heavy. Those that submit to the government of the world and the flesh, are told plainly, what hard masters they are, and what tyranny the dominion of sin is. The law of God and the manner of men widely differ from each other; the former should be our rule in the several relations of life; the latter should be the measure of our expectations from others. These would be their grievances, and, when they complained to God, he would not hear them. When we bring ourselves into distress by our own wrong desires and projects, we justly forfeit the comfort of prayer, and the benefit of Divine aid. The people were obstinate and urgent in their demand. Sudden resolves and hasty desires make work for long and leisurely repentance. Our wisdom is, to be thankful for the advantages, and patient under the disadvantages of the government we may live under; and to pray continually for our rulers, that they may govern us in the fear of God, and that we may live under them in all godliness and honesty. And it is a hopeful symptom when our desires of worldly objects can brook delay; and when we can refer the time and manner of their being granted to God’s providence.

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