Dave Burnette's Commentary

1 Samuel Chapter 8


Written By: God through Inspiration
Penned By: Samuel, Nathan, & Gad 
Date Penned: (931-975 BC)
Overview: Samuel, Israel's Last Judge (c 1-31)
Theme: Samuel and Saul (c 8-15)
Message: Saul Becomes King (v 1-22)

1 Samuel 8 Commentary

(8:1-3) Samuel's Children Fail to Follow the Lord - As an old man, Samuel appointed his sons to be judges over Israel in his place. But they were just as corrupt as Eli's sons (2:12). We don't know why Samuel's sons went wrong, but we do know that Eli was held responsible for his own sons' corruption (2:29-34). We have no way of knowing if Samuel was a bad parent. His children were old enough to make their own decisions and take responsibility for themselves. We must be careful not to blame ourselves for the sins of our children. On the other hand, parenthood is an awesome responsibility, and nothing is more important than molding and shaping our children's lives. If you have grown children who are not following God, realize that you can't control them any longer. Don't blame yourself for something that is no longer your responsibility. Adult children have their own free will. You can love them, pray for them, and always welcome them home. But if your children are still in your care, know that what you do and teach will profoundly affect them in ways that will last a lifetime.

(8:4-9) Israel Desires a King - Israel wanted a king for several reasons: (1) Samuel's sons were not fit to lead Israel. (2) The 12 tribes of Israel continually had problems working together because each tribe had its own leader and territory. They hoped a king would unite the tribes into one nation and one army. (3) The people wanted to be like the neighboring nations. This is exactly what God didn't want. Having a king would make it easy to forget that God was the Israelites real leader and that they were governed by his covenant law. For Israel to want a king was not explicitly wrong; God had mentioned the possibility in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. Yet, in reality, the people were rejecting God as their leader. The Israelites wanted laws, an army, and a human monarch in the place of God. They wanted to run the nation through human strength, even though only God's strength could make them flourish in the hostile land of Canaan.

(8:5-6) The People Clamor for a King - The people clamored for a king, thinking that a new system of government would bring them what they wanted, particularly military victory. But because their basic problem was disobedience to God, their other problems would only continue under the new administration. What they needed was a unified faith, not a uniform rule. Had the Israelites submitted to God's leadership, they would have thrived beyond their expectations (Deuteronomy 28:1). Our obedience is weak if we ask God to lead our families, businesses, and personal lives but continue to live by the world's standards and values. Faith in God's leadership must touch all the practical areas of life.

(8:19-20) Samuel Explains the Consequences of Having a King - Samuel carefully explained all the negative consequences of having a king, but the Israelites refused to listen. When you have an important decision to make, weigh the positives and negatives carefully, considering everyone who might be affected by your choice. When you want something badly enough, you can be blinded to the potential consequences. Don't discount the possible negatives of getting what you want. It would be better to think things through beforehand than to have to fix a big mess later.

(8:19-20) Israel's Motive for Having a King - Israel was called to be a holy nation, separate from and unique among all others (Leviticus 20:26). The Israelites' motive in asking for a king was to be like the nations around them. This was in total opposition to God's original plan. Their reasons for wanting a king were wrong and demonstrated a lack of faith. Often we let others' values and actions dictate our attitudes and behavior. Have you ever made a wrong choice because you wanted to be like everyone else? The values of your friends or "heroes" might pull you away from what God says is right. When God's people want to be like unbelievers in certain ways, they are heading for spiritual disaster.


Dave Burnette's Life Application

Be Careful What You Ask For


Each day we walk through the Bible chapter by chapter, making application of our text to help us grow in the Lord. Today we continue in the book of 1st Samuel with Chapter 8. In our text, we see the repeated request of the people for a King, knowing it was against the will of God. In this passage, After asking, God gave them over to their request. Over the next 450 years, they had 41 kings, of which only 11 followed God during their reign. In making an application, we see a principle we need to be aware of today. Knowing God's Word, we ask for things contrasting to His Will. Many principles are in the Bible for us - Taking on Debt, Marrying a non-Christian, Gambling, etc.- which are all against the Word of God, yet we pray for the Lord to grant these requests. The Lord protects us at first, but after we ignore His Word, he gives us over to our sinful Choices. He never leaves and will be there for us, but we suffer from wrong decisions. How about You? Do you ask for or make decisions contrary to the World of God? Let us learn from Israel and our text today to be careful what we ask for, or we might receive the fruit of our wrong choices.


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.