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One Samuel Eight

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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1 Samuel 8:1 And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.

his sons judges. Since Samuel was a judge in Israel as long as he lived (1 Samuel 7:15), here is a specific case when there were contemporaneous judges in Israel; Samuel had a circuit, but his main “court” was in Ramah (1 Samuel 7:17). His two sons served as judges in Beersheba, about fifty miles south of Ramah. This fact gives a clue as to why the chronology of the Judges period is so difficult to work out (over seventy-five different chronologies have been published). It is possible that at least some of the periods of rest and oppression listed in the book refer to simultaneous periods in different regions.

1 Samuel 8:2 Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba.

judges in Beer-sheba. Samuel was a “circuit-riding” judge, with his main “court” at Ramah, and the load apparently became so heavy that he assigned his sons to do his job at Beer-sheba, which was at the southern extremity of Israel. This proved a mistake; he should have waited for God to raise up any judge that was needed.

1 Samuel 8:3 And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.

1 Samuel 8:4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,

1 Samuel 8:5 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.

1 Samuel 8:6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.

1 Samuel 8:7 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.

rejected me. It was actually God's will for His people to have a king, for eventually Messiah would be their king (note Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17). He had, through Moses, instructed them in how a future king should rule and how he should be chosen (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). However, their motives in desiring a king at this time were altogether wrong (1 Samuel 8:19, 20).

reign over them. It was not that the people really needed a king to “judge us, and go out before us, and fight out battles” (1 Samuel 8:20). God Himself had been their king, and had gone before them and fought their battles, whenever they were faithful to Him. But they deliberately rejected this theocratic kingdom, and the judges that God had raised up (such as Samuel), in order that they “may be like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:20). As a result of their complaining instead of being grateful and obeying, God “gave them their request; but sent leanness into their souls” (Psalm 106:15), just as He had done in the wilderness when they complained about their food.

1 Samuel 8:8 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.

1 Samuel 8:9 Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.

1 Samuel 8:10 And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.

1 Samuel 8:11 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.

1 Samuel 8:12 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.

1 Samuel 8:13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.

1 Samuel 8:14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.

1 Samuel 8:15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

1 Samuel 8:16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.

1 Samuel 8:17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.

1 Samuel 8:18 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.

1 Samuel 8:19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;

1 Samuel 8:20 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.

1 Samuel 8:21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD.

1 Samuel 8:22 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.