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This Chapter contains rather the dark side of Israel from the former. Samuel growing old, and his sons not closely copying after the example of their father, discontent broke out among the people. They ask for a king in imitation of the nations around them. The thing displeaseth the Lord. Samuel remonstrates with the people. They are obstinate. Samuel promiseth their request shall be complied with. These are the principal things contained in this Chapter.
1 Samuel 8:1
(1) ¶ And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons Judges over Israel.
It should seem from calculation, that Samuel could not at this time be above sixty years of age. But it is probable he had worn fast, and brought on premature old age in the service and zeal of God's government. It forms a sweet reflection in the close of life, if when strength is consumed, that that strength has not been spent in the service of sin. But here, Reader, as in every other instance so in this, what a lovely view doth our Jesus afford, whose day of life ended at a little more than thirty-three! I must work (said that lovely one) the works of him that sent me while it is day, the night cometh when no man can work. John 9:4 .
(2) Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were Judges in Beersheba. (3) And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.
Behold, Reader, in these instances, that grace is not hereditary. The most pious of men cannot convey the least portion of the Holy Ghost to their children. Oh! thou dear Redeemer! how hast thou hereby taught us the infinite importance of an union with thee! Holy Father! remember thy promise to our Jesus, and be it according to thy words: pour thy Spirit. upon his seed, and thy blessing upon his offspring. Isaiah 44:3 .
(4) ¶ Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, (5) 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.
If my views of this scripture be right and just the request of the elders of Israel for a king did not arise from the age of Samuel, or the unworthiness of his sons; for in this case, they would humbly have prayed that Samuel would dismiss his sons and appoint other Judges. But desiring a king was a wicked encroachment upon the sovereignty of the Lord. God was their king: Samuel and his sons were only deputies.
(6) But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.
I beg the Reader to remark with me, the resource of Samuel in prayer. Here, Reader, let you and I lodge all our concerns, A throne of grace is always open to us, and Jesus ever liveth to make intercession. Where should distressed souls go with their complaints but there? Hebrews 4:14-16 .
(7) 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. (8) 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. (9) Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
Those verses throw a great light on the scripture-history concerning Saul. The reign of Saul between the government of Samuel and David: plainly shows that what the Lord said by the prophet Hosea concerning this man, was in judgment: I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath. And this was added to the Lord's declaration, in which be had said, I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? Hosea 13:10-11 .
(10) And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king. (11) 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. (12) 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. (13) And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. (14) And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. (15) And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. (16) And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. (17) He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. (18) 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.
Reader! may not you and I spiritualize this passage? What are all our lusts and corruptions arising from the body of sin and death we carry about with us, but like the galling authority which is here described? I know not what your feelings are: but I know in my own, that these corrupt passions of my unrenewed part, (for such is the body after all the work of grace upon the soul) are continually dragging down the soul, and like the chariots and horsemen here spoken of made me cry out continually, as holy Paul did being burthened. Romans 7:24 .
(19) Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; (20) 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.
That this spirit of rebellion was not against Samuel and his sons, but (as I said before) against God, is here somewhat more plain. For they speak of their king fighting their battles. Had not God fought their battles all the way along from Egypt to Canaan? Nay, in the preceding chapter is it not related, that the Lord thundered from heaven upon their enemies? 1 Samuel 7:10-11 . Besides, God had promised them a king in his own time and way, and one whom he should choose. And no doubt David was that one, and therefore in allusion to this, is called the man after God's own heart; that is, as the shepherd and king of his people. But both God's choice and God's time are to be waited for, See Deuteronomy 17:14-15 .
(21) And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. (22) 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.
I beg the Reader to remark with me this striking feature in the character of Samuel; his constant intercourse and communion with God. Samuel was a child of prayer; for his mother called him Samuel, being asked of God what the word Samuel signifies; but Samuel was a man of prayer also. And why should not you and I? Did Enoch; did holy men of old walk with God? Had they clearer views of God the Father then than we have now? Did they know more of the gracious way to the throne than we? Oh! thou dearest Jesus! did thy servants of old know thee more by faith, before that thou hadst finished redemption-work, than thy people know thee now? Be pleased, dearest Lord, to quicken our souls to the more earnest, to the more frequent, drawing nigh to thee: and let these holy men of old shame our cold hearts, if thy love cannot warm them, to blush, that patriarchs and prophets should so far exceed thy disciples now, when we know that we have a throne of grace always open: a Father of mercies and of great consolation always to fly to, and one to trust in, whom the Father heareth alway, and who is the propitiation of his people!
AMIDST the growing age and infirmities of all God's faithful servants, though we see Samuel and all the holy men and prophets going the way of all flesh, what a sweet and soul-reviving thought is it, that our Jesus liveth forever! Yes! thou precious Holy One of Israel, thou ever livest; and because thou livest, we shall live also. Triumph my soul in this well-founded confidence!
And here, Lord, let me learn, from the rebellion of Israel in desiring a king, when thou thyself wast the gracious king of thy people, let me learn how prone the heart, even of thy people, is to rebel against thee. Oh! ye wretched, misguided, unhappy sons of men, who by deeds, if not by words, are continually saying: We will not have this man to reign over us. Think, I charge you, ere it be too late, whether he hath not a right to govern, who, as one with the Father is God; and as Mediator, hath all power in heaven and in earth. Is not every creature his, both by creation and redemption? And shall not every knee bend before him, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father! Oh! kiss the Son lest he be angry, and so ye perish from the right way. Acknowledge him now for your lawful king and sovereign, before he comes in the clouds as your just Judge. If his wrath be kindled, yea but a little, blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
As for my soul, let angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, let all heaven and earth bear witness for me, that I desire no other king, neither will I know any other but he that is a Priest upon his throne. Do thou holy, blessed, royal Lord Jesus, reign in me, and over me, and establish, and preserve, and maintain thy rightful kingdom in my soul, against all there enemies, my lusts and corruptions, as well as the world, and the powers of darkness. Oh! do thou bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of our Christ! Do thou manifest thyself to my soul, in all thy sovereignty, grace, and goodness, in thy kingdom, both temporal and spiritual. Do thou pardon my sins as a king; do thou rule over my affections as a king; do thou bestow all needed grace as a king; do thou bless, protect, restrain; subdue, regulate and dispose of all things concerning me as a king, the glorious, gracious king which our God hath set in Zion. And by thus living under thine own kingly influences here below, mine eyes continually beholding the king in his beauty; in that tremendous day, when thou shalt come to take away all things that offend out of thy kingdom, my soul will find a growing confidence in thy salvation. For sure I am, since none but Jesus is king, h e who hath borne my sins will not plead against me in judgment. The language of my heart, will be like the church of old; the Lord is our judge: the Lord is our Lawgiver: the Lord is our King; he will save us.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 8". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany