1 Samuel 8:7
“And the Lord told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected Me as their king.’” (The Holy Bible, New International Version)
Human Condition: In these days, the people of Israel asked for a king to rule over them. In the previous chapter, it is seen that there is a genuine turning to God after twenty years (1 Samuel 7:2). The idols were destroyed, and, with Samuel as judge over Israel, the people were led into repentance and cleansing. At the end of the chapter, we see how God delivered the people from the Philistines, showing them what He will do for a people who keep faith in Him (William B. Eerdmans 234). However, chapter 8 shows a drastic change of situations. Samuel is dying and his sons whom he appointed as judge over Israel have fallen into great sin (1 Samuel 8:3). Thus, the people were discontented with the present government and were anxious to see a change (Henry 493). As a result, they asked for a government similar to the nations around them.
God Himself and His Work: In the given passage, we see God listening to the request of the people. Surely, Samuel must be disturbed at the proposal of the people and the leaders of Israel. He poured out his life ministering to Israel as a judge (1 Samuel 7:15). However, it seemed that his prophetic office is slighted, and all the good deeds that he had done is ungratefully returned (Henry 496). Nevertheless, God told Him not to think that way. God was ready to minister to and lead Samuel in the present situation. He wanted Samuel not to be discouraged in himself. Samuel was not to think hard about it, for the matter (the complaint of the people) is not upon him but upon God Himself.
Moreover, the passage shows how God responds to the wrongful requests of the people of Israel. It is certain that Samuel warned the people about the dire consequences of having a king rule over them. As seen in the neighboring countries, having a king could result in conscription, forced labor, taxation, and loss of liberty (William B. Eerdmans 235). Since the people insisted, the Lord gave them exactly what they seek after – despite knowing what would happen to His people.
God’s Will for Us: There are three things that could be taken as lessons from this passage. First, it shows that God wants us to always come to Him. Samuel will never know what to do if he did not inquire of God. In Christ, God’s children (the believers) can come to Him with confidence and assurance (Hebrews 4:16; 10:22). When things are confusing, believers are called to present every requests and concerns to God (Philippians 4:6).
Second, the response of the people warns believers of the tendency to trust in man. It is sad to realize that just after God’s deliverance to them, the people of Israel already shifted their trust from God to man. They already have God, and God is [infinitely] able to bring about great changes and great victories beyond what man can do for them. As seen in 1 Samuel 8:19-20, they foolishly assumed that there is more power in a human king leading them (MacArthur 382).
Further, the passage warns us regarding what we seek after. God gave them what they wanted even if God knew the adverse results. Because men chose to live in sin and go against God, God gave them over to their sinful self (Romans 1). We must, therefore, be careful that we do not insist on our sinful desires, lest we become like them.
Henry, Matthew. Commentary on the Whole Bible Volume II (Joshua to Esther). Grand Rapids, MI: Christian Classics Ethereal Library. PDF e-book.
MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Study Bible. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006. Print.
The Holy Bible, New International Version. Colorado, CO: Biblica, Inc., 2011. Print.
William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. Eerdmans Handbook to the Bible. Ed. David Alexander and Pat Alexander. Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1992. Print.