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Summary: Israel rejects God, wants an earthly king like other nations.

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SOVEREIGN GOD OR EARTHLY KING?

(1 Samuel 8:1-22)

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In today’s Bible lesson, we’re going to look at events in the book of 1 Samuel. Samuel was the last Judge of Israel. As a Judge, it was Samuel’s role to provide spiritual leadership to Israel at times of crisis. However, Samuel was not the ruler over all of Israel. This was a theocracy, meaning that God was their King.

Had Israel been faithful to God’s plan, then they would have been a witness to the rest of the world. Other nations would have looked at Israel, seen God’s protection and blessings, and would have wanted to be like them and have Jehovah as their King. But instead, Israel looked at their heathen neighbors and envied them for having an earthly king to protect them. This rejection of God’s plan began as a rejection of Samuel by his own two sons. His sons reject him by turning away from what he taught them spiritually. They chose “dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.” We see this in 1 Sam. 8:1-3:

1 Sam 8:1-3

1 And it came about when Samuel was old that he appointed his sons judges over Israel.

2 Now the name of his first-born was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; {they} were judging in Beersheba.

3 His sons, however, did not walk in his ways, but turned aside after dishonest gain and took bribes and perverted justice.

Next, the leaders of Israel came to Samuel in verses 4 and 5 and asked him to appoint a king over all the nation:

1 Sam 8:4-5

4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah;

5 and they said to him, "Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations."

Samuel views their request for a king as the people rejecting him. You can’t blame Samuel for taking it personally, since the people did say to him, “you have grown old,” and also, “your sons do not walk in your ways.” So Samuel was upset, as we read in verse 6:

1 Sam 8:6

6 But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." And Samuel prayed to the LORD.

When Samuel got upset, how did he handle it? Verse 6 just told us, “Samuel prayed to the Lord.” Even though he was initially upset and took the request personally, in the end he did not handle the problem by reacting emotionally. He wanted to know what God wanted him to do, so he went to God in prayer.

How do we react when we are upset? It’s normal as a human being to react to problems in an emotional way, such as fear, anger, maybe hurt feelings. But when we find the time to think about it, what do we do then? Do we choose to continue in our bad feelings, or do we as Christians try to determine what God would have us do?

When Samuel seeks God’s answer, he discovers in verses 7 and 8 that the people are not really rejecting Samuel as they have said outwardly. God sees their hearts, and He tells Samuel what is really happening:

1 Sam 8:7-8

7 And the LORD said to Samuel, "Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.

8 "Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day-- in that they have forsaken Me and served other gods--so they are doing to you also.

Had Samuel not consulted God, he likely would have refused the people’s request, because he knew what God’s will had been up to that point in time. But I think that what God told Samuel in verse 9 was something Samuel didn’t expect to hear. God told him to grant the people’s request for a king.

1 Sam 8:9

9 "Now then, listen to their voice; however, you shall solemnly warn them and tell them of the procedure of the king who will reign over them."

However, God gave the people one more chance to change their minds. He told Samuel to warn them of all the bad things that would happen if they had a human king ruling them, and these things are listed in 1 Samuel 8:10-18. The reason I call God’s warning “one more chance” is because God ended by saying that when these bad things occur, the people will “cry out in that day,” and that “the Lord will not answer you in that day.” The people would have to live with the consequences of their negative decision toward God, and He told them what these are:

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