1 Samuel 8
A king to replace God
Samuel’s crooked sons1When Samuel got old, he chose his sons to become Israel’s next generation of judges. 2His oldest son was Joel. His second son was Abijah. They judged cases in the southern Israelite town of Beersheba.
3As judges, they weren’t anything like their father. They twisted the law. They wanted to get rich, so they sold justice and took bribes.
Israel asks Samuel for a king4Israel’s tribal leaders came to Samuel’s hometown of Ramah to confront him about his sons. 5They said, “You’ve grown old, and you’ve put your sons in charge. You were fair when you settled disputes. But your sons are not like that at all. So, we’re asking you to appoint a king. Put him in charge of us. Then we’ll be like other nations.”
6That request for a king made Samuel feel terrible. So, he prayed to the LORD about it.
7The Lord told Samuel, “Go ahead and do everything those people ask you to do. Don’t beat yourself up over this. They didn’t reject you. They rejected me. I’m their king. 8These people have done this to me for a long time, abandoning me and turning to other gods. They’ve done this from the very beginning, ever since I freed them from slavery in Egypt and brought them here. Now they’re leaving you behind, too. 9Go ahead and give them what they’re demanding. But give them something else, too: a stern warning about how kings treat their people. Don’t hold back. Tell them everything a king will do to them.”
Warning to Israel: kings exploit people10Samuel met with the Israelite people who asked him for a king. He told them everything the LORD said to tell them.
11Samuel said, “Listen to me. This is what your life will be like when a king takes control. He’ll draft your sons as soldiers. He’ll commission some for his chariot corps, others for the calvary, and others to walk alongside as infantrymen. 12He’ll put some in charge of a battalion, a thousand soldiers. He’ll have others lead a company of 50. He’ll force some to become farmers who will plow his fields and collect his harvest. He’ll order some to make his weapons and the equipment he needs for his chariots.
13He’ll draft your daughters into service, too. Some will make his perfume. Some will cook his meals. And others will bake his bread. 14He’ll take your best fields, vineyards, and olive groves. Then he’ll give them as his own personal gifts to palace officials.
15He’ll take 10 percent of everything you produce: grain, grapes, and wine. He’ll use it to feed his palace eunuchs  and officials. 16He’ll take your best slaves—men and women. He’ll take your donkeys, too. Then he’ll put them all to work for himself, not for you. 17He’ll take 10 percent of all your livestock. You are going to become a nation of slaves. His slaves.
18I’ll tell you something else. You’ll regret this decision. You will wish you had never asked for a king.  You will pray to the LORD for relief. But the LORD won’t send you any.”
Ignoring Samuel’s warnings19Nothing Samuel said could change their minds. The people said, “No. We insist on a king. 20We want to be like other nations. We need a king to rule us and to lead us into battle when necessary.”
21Samuel told the LORD everything the people had said. 22The LORD told Samuel, “They’ve told you what they want. Give it to them. Find them a king.” That settled the matter for Samuel. So he told the leaders of Israel, “You can go home now.” 
Eunuchs were the kind of men entrusted to take care of harems of wives and concubines. Eunuchs were men who were often castrated and appointed to guard women of kings and of other families rich enough to own slaves. They could perform the manly duties of an employee, without endangering the family tree by grafting in an alien twig or two.
The Hebrew text more literally says the people would “cry out” because of the damage their own king was doing to them, not because of what their enemies were doing. The implication is that they brought this on themselves, and God was going to let them experience the consequences of their bad judgment.
There was nothing more for the people to do. It was now up to Samuel to find Israel’s first king.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.