1 Samuel 8:4-20
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel to Ramah,…
Wishing to resemble other nations, they asked Samuel to make them a king. They "were dazzled," says John Henry Newman, "with the pomp and splendour of the heathen monarchs around them, and they desired someone to fight their battles, some visible succour to depend on, instead of having to wait for an invisible Providence, which came in its own way and time, by little and little, being dispensed silently, or tardily, or (as they might consider) unsuitably. We must notice the way in which the elders expressed their wish to Samuel. They felt it necessary to show some reason, if possible, for their action. They therefore began by reminding Samuel of his advancing years." A Greek proverb says, "The more a good tree grows, the more shade does it give." Samuel was not too old for service, but the wayward people whom the elders represented (v. 19) were apparently tired of his administration. Aged people should be treated very gently and not spoken to as if we thought they were in our way. The latter part of the speech of the elders was no more welcome than its beginning. Their request was an affront. But he did not resent it. Instead of at once answering them he prayed unto the Lord. Luther says, "He must be of a high and great spirit, that undertakes to serve the people in body and soul, for he must suffer the utmost danger and unthankfulness." Samuel was "of a high and great spirit." Instead of brooding over the personal wrong done to himself, he went quietly into God's presence and laid the whole case before Him. Have we difficulties that we cannot solve? Let us pray. Cecil says, "No man rejects a minister of God who faithfully performs his office, till he has rejected God." This remark applies to all spheres of life. The strict performance of duty often results in personal loss. Take the case of a young man suddenly dismissed by an unscrupulous tradesman because he refuses to take undue advantage of a customer. That young man should bear God's voice saying, "Your master has not rejected you, he has rejected Me." With this thought in his heart he will be able cheerfully to suffer (Psalm 69:7; Colossians 1:24). Israel's request was granted, but at the same time the people were earnestly warned of their error. God's sovereignty and man's free will are here vividly contrasted. Apparently the people gained their point, but really they were making a rod for their own back (Psalm 78:29-31; Psalm 106:15). "How bitterly the nation, even in the successful and glorious reign of King Solomon, felt the pressure of the royal yoke, so truly foretold by their last judge, is shown in the history of the times which followed the death of Solomon, when the public discontent at the brilliant but despotic rule of the great king. split up the people into two nations" (1 Kings 12:4). Sir William Temple says "A restlessness in men's minds to be something that they are not and to have something that they have not, is the root of all immorality." William Collins, the artist, very decidedly expresses his opinion "that if the Almighty were to give us everything for which we feel desirous, we should as often find it necessary to pray to Him to take away as to grant new favours." We have read perhaps of the little stream that began to feel weary of being a simple brook. It therefore asked for snows from the mountains, water from the torrents, rain from the tempests; until, its petitions granted, it burst its bounds, and ravaged its hitherto delightsome banks. At first the proud stream exulted in its force; but seeing ere long that it carried desolation in its flow, that its progress was now doomed to solitude, and that its waters were forever turbid, it came to regret the humble bed hollowed out for it by Nature — the birds, the flowers, the trees, and the brooks, hitherto the modest companions of its tranquil course."
Parallel VersesKJV: Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,