Thoughts for the Day

Thursday, 11th July 2024: Samuel: 9

Judge Deuteronomy 1 Samuel 8 King Saul Samuel

Reading : Verses from 1 Samuel, Chapter 8


When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beer-sheba. Yet his sons did not follow in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, ‘You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.’ Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.... Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.’

So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, ‘These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plough his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’

But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, ‘No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.’ .... The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to their voice and set a king over them.’

(Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)


There is evidence of some inconsistencies in these chapters, likely to mean that the compiler of Deuteronomy had a hand in adapting some of the text. There are different views of kingship for instance, and two different places named as the place of the 'king-making' ceremony, and while Samuel was recognised as the leader of all Israel in today's reading, in Chapter 9 Saul, who will become king is only just aware of his existence. Samuel sees the appointment of a king as a rejection of himself and even more importantly of Yahweh (God), but equally his sons are not fit to continue as Judges after his death.

The people want to renounce Yahweh as their King, but despite their rebellion He is willing to consider their demand, though Samuel is to explain in great detail all the disadvantages their rejection of God would bring. All the people could see was the advantage of have a king they could physically see, as with all the nations around them, over one they could not see. From the earliest of days God had directed His people through suitable leaders, people that He had chosen for them. But in accepting this change God works with their plans, for His people are not puppets, even though it may seem to stop what He wants to achieve. However, one good thing about the idea of appointing a king is that it will begin to draw the tribes together, making the notion of a state closer to actually happening.

Today we live in a world where millions accept God as their King, but how many of us are willing to let God design our life and future, and work with Him?


Heavenly Father,
You are the King of kings,
and Lord of lords,
and we are Your people.
May we learn to trust Your plans
for our lives,
and work with them,
knowing that You always
have our good at heart.

Follow Up Thoughts

The keen might want to look at this long article on how the tribes of Israel moved forward towards becoming a monarchy:

Or this about Deuteronomy, bearing in mind comments made above about "inconsistencies":

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