1 Samuel 8:1-22: Give us a king like other nations!

1 Samuel 8:1-22: Give us a king like other nations!

Photo by  Shirly Niv Marton  on  Unsplash  | The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ

Photo by Shirly Niv Marton on Unsplash | The Journey: A New Generation Church of Christ

Although Samuel, like Eli before him, is called by God, his sons (just like Eli’s sons) are dishonest judges. The elders of Israel rightly reject them as leaders. Instead they propose that Samuel appoint a king to rule Israel. Samuel sees this request as a rejection of his leadership. He prays to the Lord, expecting God to reject this request. Instead, God says Israel is rejecting him and again following other gods. Their rejection is particularly senseless in light of God’s direct action in leading them to victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:10). They do not trust the Lord to deliver them but want a king like the other nations. Nevertheless, God grants their request for a king in order to teach them the consequences of the idolatry of relying on anything or anyone instead of on God.

But before he grants their request, he commands Samuel to tell them what it means to have a king. Samuel warns them clearly. The king will take their sons for his war machine and take their daughters as palace slaves. He will take the best of their crops and livestock. He will enslave the Israelites who were set free from slavery by the hand of God.

What do the Israelites do in light of such a warning? They refused to listen to Samuel and so refused to hear the voice of God. They insisted on a king, so God gave them one.

Next Steps

How wrapped up in politics do you get? How much stock do you put in who “is in office” of the president, congress, state, and local government posts? Do you feel it’s like what Israel wanted in any way? In ways is this sin of rejecting God’s leadership in favor of human leadership like Israel? In what ways is it different today?


God our King, may we serve you alone. Forgive us when we put our trust in other leaders.

Dr. Gary Holloway is guest writing for The Journey Bible Project Blog.


Gary Holloway is Executive Director of the World Convention. Holding degrees from Freed-Hardeman, Harding, The University of Texas, and Emory University, he has written or edited thirty books, including (with Douglas Foster) Renewing God’s World: A Concise Global History of the Stone-Campbell Movement from ACU Press. He is married to Deb Rogers Holloway. 

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