Samuel is getting old, and has appointed his sons Joel and Abijah as judges. But they are corrupt (verse 3) and the elders come to Samuel and tell him that they want a king. It was not wrong for them to want a king – as a matter of fact, Moses had told them in Deuteronomy 17:14-15 that they could have one when the time came. But what they wanted was a military leader, when all along it had been God who fought for them. It was a rejection of the Lord (verse 7) and God points out to Samuel in verse 8 that it had been so with them ever since he brought them out of Egypt.
So although Samuel didn’t want to do it, the Lord told him to “make them a king.” But at God’s instruction, Samuel warned them of the “ways of the king” that will reign over them (verses 11-17) – “he will take…” is emphasized over and over. Some of this is the common practice of rulers, and necessary – like taxes. But some as in 14 and 16 were prophetic of abuse, and indeed verse 18 predicts that they will “cry out because of your king” as slaves. This type of servitude labor would come to pass for them, as we will see in 1 Kings 5:13-16 and elsewhere.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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