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Matthew Henry's Commentary

1 Samuel Chapter 8

he evil government of Samuel's sons. (1-3) The Israelites ask for a king. (4-9) The manner of a king. (10-22)

Verses 1-3: It does not appear that Samuel's sons were so profane and vicious as Eli's sons; but they were corrupt judges, they turned aside after lucre. Samuel took no bribes, but his sons did, and then they perverted judgment. What added to the grievance of the people was, that they were threatened by an invasion from Nahash, king of the Ammonites.

Verses 4-9: Samuel was displeased; he could patiently bear what reflected on himself, and his own family; but it displeased him when they said, Give us a king to judge us, because that reflected upon God. It drove him to his knees. When any thing disturbs us, it is our interest, as well as our duty, to show our trouble before God. Samuel is to tell them that they shall have a king. Not that God was pleased with their request, but as sometimes he opposes us from loving-kindness, so at other times he gratifies us in wrath; he did so here. God knows how to bring glory to himself, and serves his own wise purposes, even by men's foolish counsels.

Verses 10-22: If they would have a king to rule them, as the eastern kings ruled their subjects, they would find the yoke exceedingly heavy. Those that submit to the government of the world and the flesh, are told plainly, what hard masters they are, and what tyranny the dominion of sin is. The law of God and the manner of men widely differ from each other; the former should be our rule in the several relations of life; the latter should be the measure of our expectations from others. These would be their grievances, and, when they complained to God, he would not hear them. When we bring ourselves into distress by our own wrong desires and projects, we justly forfeit the comfort of prayer, and the benefit of Divine aid. The people were obstinate and urgent in their demand. Sudden resolves and hasty desires make work for long and leisurely repentance. Our wisdom is, to be thankful for the advantages, and patient under the disadvantages of the government we may live under; and to pray continually for our rulers, that they may govern us in the fear of God, and that we may live under them in all godliness and honesty. And it is a hopeful symptom when our desires of worldly objects can brook delay; and when we can refer the time and manner of their being granted to God's providence.

 

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1 Samuel 8

1 Samuel 8

 1And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.

 2Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba.

 3And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.

 4Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,

 5And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.

 6But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.

 7And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

 8According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.

 9Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.

 10And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.

 11And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.

 12And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.

 13And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.

 14And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.

 15And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

 16And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.

 17He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.

 18And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.

 19Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;

 20That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.

 21And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD.

 22And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.