1 Samuel 8 – “The People Request a King”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Samuel’s sons turn out to be corrupt leaders. The people tell Samuel that they want a king, and he fails to get them to reconsider. God tells Samuel that the request is inimical but should still be heeded.

II. Photo
Samuel’s sons are anything but pious: “But his sons did not follow in his ways; they were bent on gain, they accepted bribes, and they subverted justice.” (v. 3)

III. Important Verses
1-3. When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons judges over Israel. The name of his first-born son was Joel, and his second son’s name was Abijah; they sat as judges in Beer-sheba. But his sons did not follow in his ways; they were bent on gain, they accepted bribes, and they subverted justice.
6-7: Samuel was displeased that they said “Give us a king to govern us.” Samuel prayed to the LORD, and the LORD replied to Samuel, “Heed the demand of the people in everything they say to you. For it is not you that they have rejected; it is Me they have rejected as their king. Like everything else they have done ever since I brought them out of Egypt to this day — forsaking Me and worshiping other gods — so they are doing to you. Heed their demand; but warn them solemnly, and tell them about the practices of any king who will rule over them.”
10-18: Samuel reported all the words of the LORD to the people, who were asking him for a king. He said, “This will be the practice of the king who will rule over you: He will take your sons and appoint them as his charioteers and horsemen, and they will serve as outrunners for his chariots. He will appoint them as his chiefs of thousands and of fifties; or they will have to plow his fields, reap his harvest, and make his weapons and the equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters as perfumers, cooks, and bakers. He will seize your choice fields, vineyards, and olive groves, and give them to his courtiers. He will take a tenth part of your grain and vintage and give it to his eunuchs and courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, your choice young men, and your asses, and put them to work for him. He will take a tenth part of your flocks, and you shall become his slaves. The day will come when you cry out because of the king whom you yourselves have chosen; and the LORD will not answer you on that day.”

IV. Outline
1-3. Samuel’s sons become corrupt chieftains in Israel
4-5. The elders of Israel request a king
6-9. God’s reluctant acceptance
10-18. Samuel warns the people about the strains of having a king
19-20. The people reject Samuel’s plea
21-22a. God tells Sameul to heed the people’s request
22b. Samuel sends the people home

V. Comment
No comment today. Stay tuned.

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Klein, Ralph W. “1 Samuel” Word Biblical Commentary vol. 10 (Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1983).
McCarter, P. Kyle, Jr. “1 Samuel,” Anchor Bible vol. 8 (New York: Doubleday, 1980).
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