1 Samuel 8:17
He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves.
A King Instead of a GodG. B. Ryley.1 Samuel 8:4-20
Asking for a KingMonday Club Sermons1 Samuel 8:4-20
Asking for a KingG. C. Heckman, D. D.1 Samuel 8:4-20
Demand for the Tangible and VisibleA. Maclaren, D. D.1 Samuel 8:4-20
Israel Asking for a KingM. Lucas.1 Samuel 8:4-20
Making a KingJ. Parker, D. D.1 Samuel 8:4-20
Political TransitionsJ. S. Exell, M. A.1 Samuel 8:4-20
The Disaffected PeopleR. Steel.1 Samuel 8:4-20
Israel's Desire for a KingB Dale 1 Samuel 8:4-22
The Popular Desire for a KingB Dale 1 Samuel 8:4-22

And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. The blessings obtained in answer to prayer are real and manifold. Some of them are outward and material - daily bread, health, safety, life. God is "in all, above all, and through all," the personal and free Ruler of the universe, and able to grant our petitions for temporal good in harmony with the established order of nature. The mind and will of man can produce changes in the material world without disturbing that order; much more can the eternal mind and will do the same. Other blessings are inward and spiritual - wisdom, righteousness, peace, and joy. The "Father of spirits" has access to the human spirit, interpenetrates it as light the atmosphere, holds communion with it, and disposes it to holiness. Spiritual blessings are incomparably more valuable than material. What we are determines our relation to surrounding objects. And beneficial changes wrought within are followed by similar changes in the world without. "In prayer we make the nearest approaches unto God, and lie open to the influences of Heaven. Then it is that the Sun of righteousness doth visit us with his directest rays, and dissipateth our darkness, and imprinteth his image on our souls" (Scougal).

"Speak to him, thou, for he hears, and spirit with spirit can meet.
Closer is he than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet"

(Tennyson) In illustration of the spiritual benefit of prayer let us consider how Samuel, who "prayed unto the Lord" in his trouble, and "rehearsed all the words of the people in the ears of the Lord" (ver. 21), was comforted and helped in time of need. What a different man he was when he came forth from communion with his Almighty Friend to speak to the elders of Israel from what he was when he went from them, "displeased" (ver. 6) and distressed, to pour out his heart before the Lord! "What profit shall we have if we pray unto him?"

1. Relief for a burdened heart. It is often a great relief to tell our trouble to an earthly friend; much more is it to pour it forth into the bosom of God. "No other God but the God of the Bible is heart to heart" (Niebuhr). "They went and told Jesus" (Matthew 14:12).

2. Sympathy under bitter disappointment. Samuel seemed to have "laboured in vain and spent his strength for nought." But God sanctioned his work, identified himself with him, shared his disappointment, and took his burden on himself. In rejecting his faithful servants men reject the Lord. "Why persecutest thou me?" (Acts 9:5). He sympathises with them (Hebrews 4:5); and one smile of his more than compensates for apparent failure and the frowns of the whole world. "By degrees two thoughts calmed him. The first was the feeling of identification with God's cause. The other element of consolation was the Divine sympathy. Atheism and revolution here, as elsewhere, went hand in hand. We do not know how this sentence was impressed by the infinite mind on Samuel's mind; all we know is, he had a conviction that God was a fellow sufferer" (Robertson).

3. Guidance in great perplexity. The will of the Lord, it may be, is at first hidden or obscure, but in fellowship with him the mists and clouds that prevent our seeing it are cleared away, the sun shines forth, and our way is made plain. We see "the light of this world" (John 11:9). "The vocation of man is the sun in the heavens of his life." "The secret of the Lord" (the counsel or advice, such as a man gives to his friend) "is with them that fear him" (Psalm 25:14). God tells his secrets only to his friends. "The meek will he guide in judgment: the meek will he teach his way" (Psalm 25:9). "He will guide you into all the truth" (John 16:13).

4. Submission to the supreme will. That will is always wisest and best; it cannot be altered or made to bend to ours; and one of the chief benefits of prayer is that thereby we receive grace which disposes us to accept humbly and cheerfully what at first appears evil in our sight. We are made of one mind with God.

5. Strength for painful duty. It may be to "protest solemnly" (ver. 9) against the course resolved upon by others, to alter our own course and expose ourselves to the charge of inconsistency, to face opposition, danger, and death. But, God never appoints us a duty without giving us strength to perform it. Habitual prayer constantly confers decision on the wavering, and energy on the listless, and calmness on the excitable, and disinterestedness on the selfish" (Liddon).

6. Composure amidst general excitement. Whilst the elders clamour, "Nay; but we will have a king over us," Samuel is unmoved. He calmly listens to their decision, takes it back to God in secret prayer, and then comes forth and says, "Go ye every man to his own city." "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee" (Isaiah 26:3). Hurricanes revolve around a centre of perfect calm. Outside the charmed circle the tempest may rage furiously; within it all is peace. Such is the heart and mind kept (garrisoned) by the peace of God (Philippians 4:7).

7. Confidence in a glorious future. "The Lord will not forsake his people for his great name's sake" (1 Samuel 12:22). He works out his purposes by unexpected methods, overrules human perversity, and makes the wrath of man to praise him (Psalm 76:10). "What will the end he?" it was said at a time of great and general anxiety to an eminent servant of God (Dr. A. Clarke), who replied, with a beaming countenance, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men." - D.

And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king.
When about to frame the Tabernacle in the wilderness, Moses was specially instructed by God to make it after the pattern which had been shown him in the holy mount. When Jeremiah was set apart to the prophetical office, for which he confessed himself unfit, God said, "Thou shalt go to all that I shall send thee; and whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak" (Jeremiah 1:7). The rule with respect to all preachers of the gospel is after a similar form: "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God" (1 Peter 4:11); "It is required of stewards that a man be found faithful" (1 Corinthians 4:2). Ministerial fidelity is the full declaration of the word of God to the consciences of men. "Who is a true and faithful steward?" asked Latimer of old. "He is true, he is faithful, that coineth no new money, but seeketh it ready coined of the goodman of the house; and neither changeth it nor clippeth it, after it is taken to him to spend, but spendeth even the selfsame that he had of his Lord; and spendeth it as his Lord commanded him." Such a man was Samuel, who "told all the words of the Lord unto the people." This fidelity is essential to the proper discharge of the ministerial office, as it was of the prophetical. The fear of man may not alter the doctrine of the pulpit. The preacher of the word must declare all the counsel of God, whether men hear or whether they forbear. Ere the people proceeded to make a change of Government, Samuel declared the manner of the king that should reign over them. Samuel did not show the people what a king ought to be — that was written in the books of the law of Moses; but what he would be. In the East, kings maintain great magnificence, live in highest luxury, and indulge their passions. Followed by sycophants baser than themselves, they soon get beyond amendment, and, secure in their self-sufficiency, are heedless of the complaints and wrongs of their subjects. Such were the men who wore a crown in the days of Samuel, nor have Eastern monarchs much changed since then. But when an object is earnestly desired, all connected with it is viewed through the coloured glasses of the beholder, The people of Israel saw only the magnificence, not the luxury; the dignity, not the expense; the power, not the oppression of a king. They were willing to run before a royal chariot, — that would be no slavery. They would enlist in an army, — that would be no yoke. They would give the best to a Hebrew king, — that would be no sacrifice. The enthusiasm of the people saw no evil in a royal crown or a courtly retinue. Like little children, the passions of a people are blind to the future. They will have their desire, though it prove their ruin. Thus French factions would have their objects in the revolutionary era, regardless of the wrong they caused, the blood they shed, the religion they blasphemed, the God they dishonoured, until the Red Republic was more cruel than ever despotic monarchy had been. Thus the sinner will have his desire, though he imperil his soul forever. The avaricious will have gold, though it becomes his idol, and his immortal spirit worships the golden calf. The inebriate will have his drink, though he degrade his being, blast his character, beggar his family, and damn his soul. The sinner will have his sin though it ruin him forever. But there is personal danger resulting from the indulgence of wrong motives, and from the eager pursuit of sin. The soul is debased, made guilty, and exposed to retribution. It may awaken too late to retrace its steps, to secure pardon and salvation. Present decision to be right with God is therefore an imperative duty, as it is the guarantee of future blessing. Faithful as Samuel was to the people in declaring the words of God, he is none the less so in rehearsing the words of the people of God. The decided indication of the popular will does not alter Samuel's views, or tempt him to depart from God. He can go back to the presence of God with the same uprightness as he bad come from that sacred place. The tides of popular feeling did not bear him away. He could stand alone in his devotedness to God if the people should all reject the word of the Most High. He acted as the commissioner of Jehovah, and therefore laid the wish of the people before the throne of God. He was willing to abide by the Divine decision. God granted the request of the people, and Samuel gave information accordingly. This did not indicate Divine approbation of their conduct; for it showed that they were to bear the responsibility of the step. They become new opportunities of well-doing if rightly improved, or means of conviction of the sin committed. They had confidence in Samuel's prayers, and were willing to abide the issue. "The history of the world," says a judicious commentator, "cannot produce another instance in which a public determination was formed to appoint a king, and yet no one proposed either himself or any other person to be king, but referred the determination entirely to God."

(R. Steel.)

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