LIKE ALL THE NATIONS
1 Samuel 8
They Have Rejected Me
Samuel faithfully judges Israel for many years after the people repented and the Philistines were vanquished. Samuel was dedicated to the Lord before he was ever born and he served the Lord all his life. Now in his old age, he appoints his sons, Joel and Abijah to be judges over Israel in Beersheba. Enlisting his sons was problematic, and the people could not abide by it because Samuel's sons, Joel and Abijah did not walk in the ways of their father. These boys were greedy and accepted bribes, perverting justice. The rumors began to spread until enough complaints were raised that the leaders of Israel gathered to meet Samuel at his home in Ramah. The elders complain to Samuel about his sons, and they demand a king. Scripture does not indicate that Samuel defended his sons, but as a father, he must have been disappointed by this news. The request of a king was not new for the people had offered this proposal to Gideon earlier. God had set his people apart from the nations, and he was their king, but the people thought that having a king would solve their problems with the judges and unite the people. Samuel was offended by the request of the people and understood this as a rejection of his ministry, so he prayed to the Lord. The Lord instructs Samuel to obey the people explaining that it was not Samuel that the people rejected, it was God himself who was rejected from being their king. The Lord reminds Samuel that this is not new for the people had forsaken the Lord since he brought them out of Egypt. God told Samuel to acquiesce to their request but to apprise them of what this would mean for them.
Careful What You Wish For
Samuel warned them about what they could expect from their king: enlisting people for military service, seizure of private property, labor taxes, compulsory royal service, and heavy taxation. Israel might not be slaves to the Philistines, but they would be slaves to the crown. Samuel told the people that a day was coming when they would cry out because of the king they so longed for and on that day, the Lord would not answer. The people refuse to listen to God and demand that Samuel appoint a king to judge them and lead them in battle just like the other nations. Samuel must have been sorely wounded on that day, and he repeated the words of the people to God. The people would not look to their divine king and judge; they wanted something else entirely. God told Samuel to do as they had requested and Samuel dismissed the people to return to their cities.
Things To Consider:
- Do you think Samuel thought back to the failure of Eli's sons when his were indicted? How do you think that made Samuel feel?
- Why do you think patterns in families continue even when there is a desire to change?
- How is ministry corrupted in the same way today?
- Why do we think we know what is best for us?
- How are you rejecting God's rule in your life? What will you do?
- What do you think happened between Samuel and his sons after this?
- Why do you think God warns them since he knows they will reject what he has to say?
- How do we dismiss God's warnings today?
- How do we look to man instead of to God for salvation today?