“Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1Samuel 8:5).
The last Judge of the “Judges Period” of OT History was Samuel. His sons were behaving in a disorderly way and the people had become frustrated. They respond to this by asking for a King.
God is never caught by surprise and had already warned them about this situation. In Deuteronomy He said, “When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. But…” (Deut 17:14-16)
It’s here where we begin our study.
God warned Israel about this situation long before they had even taken the land in which they now reside. Now that they have asked for a KING, He tells Samuel to remind them of this lesson. Then, after the lesson, it is interesting to notice their reaction and it is also important to know what God is doing.
First, He says; “Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them” (1Sam 8:9). God wants them to KNOW what they’re asking.
Second, this KING will IMPOSE heavy burdens on them. “This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take…”
- (11) your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
- (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.
- (13) And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
- (14) And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
- (15) And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
- (16) And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
- (17) He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
- (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.
By the end of the UNITED KINGDOM period this truth will become the sore spot for the people. “Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee” (1Kings 12:4).
After this warning about their request, the people say, “NEVERTHELESS the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; 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” (1Sam 8:19-20).
Amazing!! Even after hearing the warnings, they REFUSE to obey. Isn’t this still true today? It’s a common response of the disobedient. It was a similar response of the nation of Israel at their first attempt to enter the land of Canaan. “And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt” (Num 14:4).
This next point is important. “And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king” (1Sam 8:7,22). GOD GAVE them a KING, but that is not the complete picture. We need to study the whole counsel of God.
In Hosea, after this and their subsequent apostasy, the prophet said, “I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath” (Hosea 13:11). They had rejected God, so He gave them a KING. Later, He will remove the earthly king (cf. Jer 22:29-30).
Religious scholars today make the mistake in claiming that God is intent on setting up an earthly kingdom in Jerusalem. That contradicts what God has done and what He has said. God has promised to set up a Spiritual Kingdom beginning at Pentecost (cf. Joh 18:36; Dan 2:44). Christ is KING, and reigns now, sitting on His throne in Heaven at the right hand of God.
“For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:34-36).
Let us never make the same mistake as they and ask for a different king. Christ is KING. “Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1Tim 6:15).