26 June 1 Samuel 8:1-22

26 June.  The Israelites ask Samuel for a king

“When Samuel was old, he made his sons judges for Israel. His first son was named Joel, and his second son was named Abijah. Joel and Abijah were judges in Beersheba.”

“But Samuel’s sons did not live as he did. They tried to get money dishonestly, and they accepted money secretly to make wrong judgements.”

“So all the elders came together and met Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, ‘You’re old, and your sons don’t live as you do. Give us a king to rule over us like all the other nations.”

“When the elders said that, Samuel was not pleased. He prayed to the LORD, and the LORD told Samuel, ‘Listen to whatever the people say to you. They have not rejected you. They have rejected me from being their king. They are doing as they have always done. When I took them out of Egypt, they left me and served other gods. They are doing the same to you. Now listen to the people, but warn them what the king who rules over them will do.’”

“So Samuel told those who had asked him for a king what the LORD had said. Samuel said, ‘If you have a king ruling over you, this is what he will do: he will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and his horses, and they will run in front of the king’s chariot. The king will make some of your sons commanders over thousands or over fifties.’”

“’He will make some of your other sons plough his ground and reap his harvest. He will take others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to make perfume and cook and bake for him. He will take your best fields, vineyards and olive groves and give them to his servants.’”

“’He will take one-tenth of your grain and grapes and give it to his officers and servants. He will take your male and female servants, your best cattle and your donkeys and use them all for his own work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that time comes, you will cry out because of the king you chose. But the LORD will not answer you then.’”

“But the people would not listen to Samuel. They said, ‘No! We want a king to rule over us. Then we will be the same as all the other nations. Our king will judge for us and go with us and fight our battles.’”

“After Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated their words to the LORD. The LORD answered, ‘You must listen to them. Give them a king.’ Then Samuel told the people of Israel, ‘Go back to your towns.’”

         (1 Samuel 8:1-22)



In his old age (he was now over eighty years old), Samuel appointed his sons Joel and Abijah to be ‘judges’ at Beersheba. But they were dishonest men, and made themselves rich by taking bribes when they were asked to judge disputes.

So the people gathered at Ramah and pleaded with Samuel for a strong king “like all the other nations” (1 Samuel 8:5) (see also Deuteronomy 17:14).

Samuel was reluctant at first as he recalled the brief (and disastrous) reign of Israel’s first king, Abimelech, at Shechem in c.1170BC to c.1168BC (see Judges 9:1-6).

Samuel warned the Israelites of the problems that would face them with the appointment of an absolute ruler. He would tax them to the hilt; he would demand servant labour from their sons and daughters; many of their children would be killed as the king waged war with his neighbours; and he would take a tithe of all their best cattle, sheep and donkeys, and give much of their wealth to his favourites.

But the people were not convinced. They wanted to be like everyone else (nothing new here!). So, reluctantly, Samuel took their request to God – who reminded him that, as on many other occasions, the Israelites were rejecting the LORD himself, not Samuel.

God told Samuel to accede to the demands of the people, and to appoint a king for them. So Samuel began his search for a suitable leader.

The photo (by Amos Meron) shows an aerial view of the centre of modern-day Beersheba where Samuel appointed his sons Joel and Abijah to be ‘judges’.

You can read more about the Israelites’ desire for a kingdom @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/30-israel-becomes-a-kingdom-under-saul-and-david/sauls-journey-to-kingship/

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