Israel Asks for a King

Israel asks for a king! Why would they do that? Wasn’t God their king? Apparently, they weren’t happy with that arrangement. How do you think God felt about their request? This situation teaches us something very important about God.

Israel asks for a King

“Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And 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. But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.” (1 Sam 8:4-6)

Samuel must have recognized there was a problem (it “displeased Samuel”) with their request as he brought it right to the Lord.

“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. According 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. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.” (1 Sam 8:7-9)

God Warned Them of the Consequences

God said to grant them their request even though it was not the best for them. And he told Samuel to explain to them why it was not a good idea which Samuel did:

“And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.  And 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. And 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. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.” (1 Sam 8:10-17)

God had Samuel tell them that they would have to bear the consequences of their decision:

“And 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.” (1 Sam 8:18)

Israel asks for a King Anyway

Even after having the dangers of a monarchy explained to them, they still insisted on having a king which was granted:

“Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have 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.  And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. And 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.” (1 Sam 8:19-22)

That the kings in Israel were reigning where the Lord should have been is shown by this verse.

“Then Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king instead of David his father, and prospered; and all Israel obeyed him.” (1 Chr 29:23)

It could say “instead of the God of Israel” as He originally was their king (1 Sam 12:12). Notice also that the people did not entirely reject God, they just rejected God’s role of reigning over them and directing their affairs via the prophets as He had done previously.

Israel asking for a king is a very clear example of God granting the desires of the people even though it was not the best thing for them. People will often say “God knows what is best” and He does but He will not make the best option in any situation happen against the will of the people involved.

His honoring our choices above His own choice shows how highly He values free will. This is the principle of Divine Accommodation of which there are many examples in scripture. This shows the humility of God – to not insist on His own way.

Another example of accommodation comes right after this event in the choice of a king.

Return to the Home Page

Share this with your friends!