We can look back over our history and see the work of God in and around our lives. And yet, when things seem to be getting sour, we can glance at what we see in the world and say, “I want some of what they have,” without remembering that that life is nothing but shame, regret, and defeat. ~~~ 1 Samuel 8:1 begins by telling us that Samuel is old. To trace a timeline, remember that in chapter 3, Samuel was described in verse 1 as a young man. We know that he was handed over to the High Priest’s care very early in his life, that he grew up in the temple, and that as a young man begin speaking for the LORD. We also know that approximately 20 years have passed from chapter 4 through chapter 7 (see 7:2). So we might say that by the time chapter 7 comes along, Samuel is middle aged. And we learn at the end of chapter 7 that Samuel is going around Israel to different cities bringing God’s word to bear in those different locations. Now, as chapter 8 opens up, Samuel is old. All of this to say that some time has passed between the events of chapter 7 and what we will see take place in chapter 8. We are also told that Samuel’s sons have grown up enough to be judges in certain parts of Israel. So God’s plan was that He, God, would be their king, and that there would be qualified and skilled men who would bring God’s word to bear on local situations. In Samuel’s prime, remember, he was traveling throughout all of Israel, but now he is appointing men, his sons, to judge in local places. I think it is an obvious fact that there was a lack of qualified and skilled men from the previous generations, since those were the generations where every man was doing what was right in their own eyes, and also there was no mechanism in place to produce godly men, especially since the priests were corrupt themselves. But we quickly learn of a flaw in the character of Samuel’s sons. They were not righteous like Samuel. They took bribes. In other words, if you had a dispute with someone else, and brought it to either Joel or Abijah, you couldn’t count on God’s word bearing on the situation, but rather your wallet. You could buy a favorable ruling, thereby perverting justice. This is a problem, a big problem. And the elders recognized it as such. They have already lived through the perversion and corruption of Hophni and Phinehas. Now we have Samuel’s own sons blazing a similar path. But the people are not going to tolerate it this time around. They see the problem and they want to head it off before it becomes too great. So they caravan together to Ramah in order to speak to Samuel about this. Now notice their reasoning for the request they are about to make: You, Samuel are old Your sons do not walk in your ways (we can’t trust them) So what is their primary concern? Their primary concern is the future. What does the future leadership look like? Well, to them it looks like corruption and perversion. And their assessment is not wrong. That is exactly what Samuel’s sons were bringing to the table as leadership skills. They sniffed it out and didn’t want to live under that type of tyranny again. But then they say, “Appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations. But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to judge us.’” What exactly were the people hoping to find in a king? Well, I think several things are clear from the text. First, they were looking for leadership. They wanted a king to “judge” them, or make decisions for them and lead them. That is the general idea behind the word “judge.” Samuel had been “judging” them according to God’s word, but they didn’t see that lasting too much longer, so they wanted a replacement. Not only that, they wanted protection and progress. Notice what it says in verse 19-20—“There shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” So yes, their distrust of the leadership rising through the ranks was spot on. We can’t fault them for that. But the actual request should have been to go to the LORD and seek His wisdom on what to do, instead of looking over the wall to see what the world was doing. The very first audience, as they are reading this, was probably thinking, “But what about what God has done on your behalf the last 7 chapters? God raised up Samuel for you out of nowhere and from obscurity in order to carry His word to you; God defeated the mighty Philistines by Himself; He taught the self-centered Israelites about His holiness; He thundered and routed the Philistines for you a second time. All of chapters 1-7 set us up to see the foolishness of the request that is now being made—the request of a king like the other nations have seems senseless since they now have repossessed their land and the surrounding nations were afraid of them. We can often find ourselves doing the same thing. We can look back over our history and see the work of God in and around our lives. And yet, when things seem to be getting sour, we can glance at what we see in the world and say, “I want some of what they have,” without remembering that that life is nothing but shame, regret, and defeat.