1 Samuel 8:4-20
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel to Ramah,…
How varied and fitful are the scenes of national life, they are alternations of sins and sorrows. The reaction of human thought is both sudden in its nature and extreme in its tendency. When once its energies are stimulated, they become restless and surge from one realm to another As the winds change in a moment from one point of the compass to its opposite extreme and toss the ship from its destined course, so this impetus of change sweeps down upon the soul with such power that it reels for a time, is then caught by the current and carried contrary to the intention of its calmer moments. Thus, as we gaze upon the picture, our wonder is excited that a people so strong in their respect for the Divine, should now conspire to dethrone its authority by establishing the human Political transitions: —
I. AS FOUNDED ON THE MOST FRIVOLOUS PRETEXT. It generally happens that the greatest revolutions are founded upon petty excuses. Thus our national institutions yield to the touch of fancy, the suggestion of caprice, or to the effort of misguided partisanship. This political change was founded —
1. On the old age of Samuel. The conduct of these elders was cruel and ungrateful. No man living had served their secular and religious interests as Samuel had, they could ill afford his departure from their senate, and though his sun was gone down they should have tenderly respected the lingering brightness which yet tinted the evening horizon
2. On the conduct of Samuel's sons. This plea was(1) Unjust to Samuel. Because, although the injustice of his sons was prejudicial to national comfort and success, it was not his fault but his sorrow and misfortune.
(2) It was remedial. But no, the people are bent upon revolution, the voice of reason is drowned in the tumult of passion.
3. Consider the request of the nation.
(1) It was influential. "The elders of Israel" (ver. 4). One would have thought that these elders were old enough to have known better, that the circumstances of their life would have inspired a sympathy towards the aged parent. But no, the oldest men are sometimes misguided, and the wisest often mistaken. Social rank is no guarantee for common sense.
(2) It was unanimous.
4. The conduct of Samuel in this crisis. We can scarcely imagine the feelings of Samuel as he listens to this desire for a king. He is alone, the companions of his youth are gone. He is sad; the nation of today has no sympathy with his grief, but is striving to sever the last tie which binds the old man to the scenes of his boyhood.
(1) Samuel's prayer. Samuel acted in this crisis as a true man, he did not selfishly appeal to the forbearance of the people, did not vent his grief in ungovernable rage, but calmly asked the aid of heaven.
II. AS PURSUED IN ANTAGONISM TO THE DIVINE WILL.
1. The Divine permission.
2. The Divine protestation.Howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them (ver. 9). God never wantonly leaves human nature to itself, he uses means to prevent wrong, pushes them to a certain point, then if resisted by the force of will he retires, and permits the nation to work out a ruin, which becomes disciplinary.
III. AS INVOLVING THE MOST ALARMING CONSEQUENCES.
1. The despotic character of their future ruler. Sometimes God makes disclosures of the future in order to deter from sin, he places an angel in the path to warn and rebuke our folly. He would: —
(1) Disregard life's dearest relationships (ver. 11).
(2) Impose several burdens of service (ver. 16).
(3) His arbitrary distribution of property (ver. 14).
2. The withdrawal of Divine sympathy in this extremity (ver. 18). Surely if anything could have silenced the demand of the nation such a fearful picture as this would, but the passion is so intense, the national yearning so Strong, the present pushes upon their sceptical minds, the future days of life are unreal to them, hence the stern realities to come fade into mist, and the cry is uttered yet more fervent: — "But we will have a king over us."LESSONS:
(1) The awful power of restless impulses to disturb national peace.
(2) The base ingratitude of collective life.
(3) The dignity of noble manhood.
(4) The persistency of national desire.
(5) The unfettered action of human conduct.
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,