When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.’
But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 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.As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you.Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.’
The book of Judges covers the period of time immediately before 1 Samuel. It was a time of chaos, with events in Israel spiralling out of control. At the very end of the book of Judges are these words:
In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit. (Judges 21:25)
This seems to suggest that if Israel did have a king, there would be more justice. So why was God not pleased when the people asked Samuel for a king?
Previously in Deuteronomy 17, Moses had given instructions about what a future king of Israel should be like and how he should obey God’s law. The problem in the time of Samuel was not that the people were asking for a king, but rather the problem was their motivation for asking.
The people were not asking for a king under God’s authority; they were asking for a king instead of God. They did not want God as their ultimate authority; they just wanted to be like the other nations.
What motivates us when we make major decisions in our lives? Do we desire to be like the people around us or do we want to do things that God wants?
The amazing truth is that even though the people were asking for a king for the wrong reasons, God allowed them to have a king. As the story unfolds we will see that God had a purpose and was thinking much further ahead than the people of Israel could yet imagine…
The story of David: Part 2 Read 1 Samuel chapters 8 to 12.