1 Samuel 8 has a sorry transition story. Samuel has judged and led well. His two sons – Joel and Abijah – are knuckleheads. When Samuel gets old, “he made his sons judges over Israel…..his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain….took bribes and perverted justice”. Bad boys that are being put in charge. It is like the fox watching the hen house. Samuel of course wants his kids to follow in his footsteps, but they are going in a totally different way and lining their own pockets.
The people of Israel are not nearly as enamored with Samuel’s choice of a successor as he is. They come to him and ask for a king, not the two sons, to lead them. Samuel is frustrated and displeased. He has led well and yet the people want something different. He prays and God says “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them”. God too is not happy even though He surely knows that Samuel’s sons were not the right choice.
God tells Samuel to “obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them”. In other words, give them what they want but tell them it is a mistake. It is not God’s plan, and it is not going to work out well. So Samuel tells them about all the things that will change – property, people, family – that the king will take a bunch of it for his use and those of his servants. “In that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day”.
And what did the people do? Any guesses? They blew Samuel’s warning off. They continued to ask for a king even though Samuel tells them exactly what will happen and the reality that they are not going to like the results. But they persist. “The people refused to obey the voice of Samuel….there shall be a king over us”. Samuel takes their words to the Lord and He instructs Samuel to give them what they want – a king. How sad that people don’t listen to the voice of God. They have seen for decades that Samuel is connected with God and has done great and wonderful things. But they go brain dead and follow a different voice much to the chagrin of Samuel.