And 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. — 1 Samuel 8:7
Our pastor tells of a time when he was applying for a different employment position, one that he really wanted. He had been interviewed, and it seemed that he was going to be awarded this job. As he was driving to what he expected would be the final interview, he prayed, “Lord, You know that I really want this job. I want it so much that I am not sure if I can truly see Your will. Please help me! If this position is not Your will for me, please close the opportunity.” He did not get the job, and he was disappointed at the time. However, within a year that company was no longer in business. He had proved, once again, that following God is the best plan.
Though most of us know that principle in our heads, sometimes when we want something badly, we may be tempted to press God to give us our way. The Lord has a particular plan for each of our lives, but He can only direct us on an individual basis if we are willing to do what He says. If we are determined to have our own way, He may allow that — granting His permissive will — but it will not be to our advantage. God’s plans for us are the best, and we cannot improve upon them by pushing for our own ways.
In our text today, the Children of Israel determined to have a king. They pressed until God said yes. Their willful rejection of God’s kingly rule and His plans for them was wrong. However, God granted their desire, although their self-centered request had tragic results. The Omniscient Lord could see their future unhappiness, and He had Samuel warn them of the disadvantages to having a king. Still, they determined to have their own way.
What we consider right by our natural thinking is not always spiritually best for us. Doing what God wants us to do may not always be according to our will. If we will yield to Him and follow His instructions, we will be blessed every time. Obeying God always results in good, although we may not see that good until eternity.
The time between chapters 7 and 8 may have been twenty or twenty-five years. This chapter marks a transition between the era of the judges and the beginning of the monarchy.
Samuel had judged Israel well, saved them from the Philistines, and led them back to God. However, by this time he was an old man, and the Children of Israel did not want another judge. Instead, they demanded to be given a king to judge them and lead them in battle (verse 20), so they could be like the nations around them.
God knew that Israel would someday want a king, and so through Moses gave directions regarding that time (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). Even before that, God had told Abraham and Jacob that their descendents would include kings (Genesis 17:6; 35:11). In his final days, Jacob had said, “the scepter shall not depart from Judah” (Genesis 49:10). God wanted these changes to come at His timing and instigation, but Israel was determined to have a king and refused to wait on God’s timing.
At God’s instruction, Samuel warned them, carefully explaining the negative consequences of such a choice. He said the king would:
These predictions were fulfilled, especially in the time of Solomon’s reign.
In spite of the warnings, Israel insisted on a king. Their rejection was not of Samuel, but rather of God, that He would not reign over them. God granted their request, and for the next 450 years, they had forty-one kings, most of whom did not follow God but led the people far from Him.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The reign of Saul
A. The rise of King Saul
1. The demand of Israel for a king (8:1-22)
a. The failure of Samuel’s successors (8:1-3)
b. The request of the elders of Israel (8:4-9)
(1) The request of the elders (8:4-6)
(2) The counsel to Samuel (8:7-9)
c. The Lord’s warning about the request (8:10-18)
d. The request renewed (8:19-22)
Sometimes we may be tempted to want to go our own way rather than to obey God. We need to be careful to submit to and obey Him, because His ways are always best in the long term.