This is probably one of the more significant chapters in Scripture. It explains to us, in God's own words, why ungodly authority is exalted with such power of even life and death over the people. The reason is found in v. 7 the people reject the Lord's rule from over them.
Note also that they rejected his sons, rightly so, because they were evil boys. However, Samuel warned them that their king would be no better than what his boys were. Yet they pressed on.
Samuel's age (56-60 years old) now made it impractical to travel as he had been doing. So he appointed his sons to help him fulfill his duties as judges. They were not judges, for Samuel was the last judge in Israel. Their names, Joel (Jehovah is God) and Abiah (Jehovah is [my] father), both indicate that Samuel sought for them to serve the Lord. Sadly, Samuel's boys did not follow in their dad's footsteps. Rather, they followed more after Eli's sons who had been killed by the Lord.
Samuel was brought up under Eli, and replaced Eli for Eli's boy's wickedness Eli would not enforce godly judgment within his own house.
Why did Samuel fall victim to the same problem when he saw what happened to Eli? This is a hard question, but here are some options.
a) Because Samuel thought he would be the exception.
b) Because Samuel refused to see any wrong in his kids this was David's problem.
c) Because the boys thought they would inherit their dad's religion.
d) Because the boys became too familiar with the Lord, as did Uzza when David moved the ark.
1) Samuel made his ungodly sons judges in Israel despite the fact that he had told the nation to clean up its act. He did not clean up his own household.
2) Neither the boys nor Samuel learned from the past. However, I do not see any rebuke by the Lord to Samuel, as he did to Eli. I assume, therefore, that Samuel did try to restrain his boys. But I do not see how he could appoint them judges, considering their evil character.
3) They served one of the major gods of this world, mammon. Under them, justice went to the highest bidder.
4) Possibility the boys may have been good UNTIL they were placed where they were overwhelmed with money. I have seen more than a few good people go bad when the lure of money was within their reach -- they are above reproach until money steps in. I will not say that money made them go bad, but I will say that money revealed a character flaw that may not have been revealed otherwise.
Of course, Samuel should have "called them home" as soon as word reached him of their evil ways.
Adam Clarke's note here is worth quoting:
Verse 3. His sons walked not in his ways Their iniquity is
pointed out in three words: 1. They turned aside after lucre;
the original [ xb batsa) signifies to cut, clip, break off; and
therefore Mr. Parkhurst thinks that it means nearly the same with
our clipping of coin. It however expresses here the idea of avarice,
of getting money by hook or by crook. The Targum says, "They
looked after rq"d wmm mamon dishkar, the mammon of unrighteousness;"
of which they did not make unto themselves friends but enemies;
see the note on Matthew 6:24. 2. They took bribes; dj" shochad,
gifts or presents, to blind their eyes. 3. They perverted judgment-they
turned judgment aside; they put it out of its regular path; they
sold it to the highest bidder: thus the wicked rich man had his
cause, and the poor man was oppressed and deprived of his right.
This was the custom in our own country before MAGNA CHARTA (The
charter given to English Barons by King John in 1212, ed.) was
obtained; he that. would speed in the king's court must bribe
all the officers, and fee both the king and queen! I have found
in our ancient records the most barefaced and shameful examples
of this kind; but it was totally abolished, invito rege, by that
provision in the above charter which states, Nulli vendemus, nulli
negabimvs ant differemus rectum aut judicium; "To no man
will we sell, to no man will we deny or defer, justice and right."
It was customary in those inauspicious times, for judgment to
be delayed in banco regis, in the king's court, as long as there
was any hope that more money would be paid in order to bring it
to issue. And there were cases, where the king did not like the
party, in which he denied justice and judgment entirely! Magna
Charta brought them to book, and brought the subject to his right.
Of those times it might well be said, as Homer did, Iliad xvi.,
oi bih agorh skoliav krinwsi qemistav,
ek de dikhn elaswsi, qewn opin ouk alegontev.
"When guilty mortals break the eternal laws,
Or judges, bribed, betray the righteous cause."
"When the laws are perverted by force; when justice is expelled from her seat; when judges are swayed from the right, regardless of the vengeance of Heaven." Or, in other words, these were times in which the streams of justice were poisoned in their source, and judges neither feared God nor regarded man.
We might also consider that Samuel did everything right, yet his boys failed to turn out proper. Some godly men have had some ungodly children, though they tried their best. However, the passage reads that Samuel knew of their evil, but refused to recognize it. David had the same problem with his boys, as have many other fathers.
Personal note: I believe the turning point in Jessica's life was when I decided to remove her from the family if she continued in the way she was headed as a 14 year old. After I made that decision, Divine Providence placed here in Mack Ford's girls' home where she was saved. That turned her life around.
The leaders of Israel gathered together, and came to Samuel at his home. They said that because Samuel could not travel out among them, and because his sons did not walk in the ways of the Lord as he did, they wanted a king. However, the truth of the matter is tacked on to the end of their speech like all the nations.
Samuel was displeased because they asked for a king, and he took his displeasure to the Lord. Samuel thought the problem was with his household, specifically his boys. But the Lord pointed out to him that the problem was not new. The problem had been there since they came out of Egypt many years before. The problem was that they did not want the Lord to reign over them. Rather, they wanted to be like the nations around them, with a literal king to rule them.
1) Note that Samuel did not hear what they said. He immediately took the elders' words as a rejection of himself and his family. The truth of the matter, however, was in what they said, like all the nations.
(d) Because they were not content with the order that God had appointed, but would be governed as the Gentiles were. (Geneva)
A) Sadly, many of God's people desire to be like the pagans around them. They want to dress, look and sound like them. Doing so rejects the Lord as their king, for we are do desire to be like him, to follow in his steps, not in the steps of the surrounding pagans.
B) We hear what we want to hear in other words, we do not listen closely to what others say, particularly when it comes to our children. Samuel also jumped to a conclusion, as did Eli with Samuel's mother.
2) Samuel was displeased, but I believe the text reads as though he was displeased because the nation rejected him, v. 7.
But Samuel took it before the Lord, which shows his godliness in that he took the situation to the Lord first, before he took it out on the people. Human nature is to react quickly against those we feel have "offended" us or our families. Especially when it comes to the children, sons particularly, parents become offended very easily. Samuel, though, before he defended his sons, he checked with the Lord. Quiet before the Lord, the Lord told him the truth of the matter.
Their problem was not with Samuel's household; it was with him. I can well remember Pastor Burrows saying about people who complained about him, his family or a staff member, "Their problem is with the Lord."
Over the years, I have certainly found this to be true. People who are at war with God are at war with everyone and everything. They are looking for an excuse to abandon what they should be doing.
We many times want what we want, and will find reasons to justify what we want, whether that thing is is right or wrong.
Israel's problem was that they did not want the Lord to reign over them, so they used Samuel's family as an excuse. I am not, nor did the Lord nor Samuel, defending his wicked sons. But the boys were not the problem. The problem was that they did not want the Lord to reign over them.
More often than not, when conflicts have arisen with people, I have found this to be at the root, though they would never admit it. The basic problem is with the Lord.
4) The people did not want Samuel's ungodly sons over them; but what they wanted was just as bad, give us a king. I have observed that many times that those who gripe of evil authority over them are the ones who want no authority over them.
5) The Lord told Samuel to listen to the people, and give then what they want. Only he was to warn them of what would happen when they got what they wanted.
It was within God's plan for the people to have a king, but the king was to be at his choosing in who, when and where.
The words of the Lord here are some of the more significant in Scripture. The Lord points out to the people what will happen as they reject him, and replace HIS leadership with the leadership of a man, a king. And this is exactly what has happened to every nation that rejects the Lord, especially ours. When God's rule is rejected for man's, that rule becomes very oppressive.
THE LAWMAKER IS THE GOD OF A SOCIETY. And America has many full time "law makers," so obviously man is our god.
A nation such as ours was founded under God, and based upon godly principles where government was very limited, and the people enjoyed maximum freedom. On the other hand, there is Communism, or socialism, where everything is under government control. However, Communism has "faded" from open view, to be replaced by Fascism that is, government ownership and control under the guise of freedom, e.g., property tax and other various laws that control who must be hired, and how much they must be paid. There are thousands of illustrations.
Under God, civil government, the magistrate, "ruled" with the people's permission. As the people move out from under God, civil government becomes god, and rules the people. It is impossible to have limited government as God intended, without a self controlled, godly people. When the people lose godly self control, civil government will take over the control.
The sad thing is that people love the security of big government (Civil), but with that security comes slavery:
Jeremiah 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
The list of events that take place when people forsake the rule of King Jesus is too obvious to develop. I will only point out one thing.
V. 15, as the people stop giving to God what belongs to him, both in reverence and in money, civil government takes their time and money in the form of higher taxes. The wheels of the church, as well as of civil government, requires money to operate.
When God's people grow cold in their giving, or when the funds given are used to build monuments to men their ideas, or when churches turn into social clubs, the church abandons its social responsibilities.
Illustration: February 9, 2000, Carol and I have been going to a dentist in Columbus, Frank Jerome. He told me last week, as I was in "the chair," that he had gone with his daughter to a Methodist church off and on. The last time he was there, the preacher said something like this: "Some of you folks have been coming here as visitors for some time. We are Methodists here, and you need to believe like we do to come." Obviously, he never went back. That church was no more than a social club. And the result is that people look to civil government as god, to pass the right combination of laws to solve all their ills.
The Lord said, "For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always." (Jn. 12:8.) And he will see that the poor are provided for. Either the church will do it as it is commanded to, or he will raise up a civil government to do it. Whereas people give willingly to the church, and the church fulfills its obligation, the state will take the money at the point of a gun, and care for the poor with its 70% "handling charge."
I have fond that many folks want entertainment centers for churches; they want entertainers for preachers; they DO NOT want firm teaching that says, "This is right and this is wrong." They want a message that requires little or no commitment or that fits into what they want to believe.
We see from Samuel that being a Christian requires full commitment; coldness or indifference on the part of God's people ALWAYS results in oppressive civil government. For the Lord gives leaders after the hearts of the people.
Will draft all the best of their children.
Will establish leaders under him not because they are good people, but because they are his friends.
Will have a standing army (up to then, there was no standing army; as the need arose, the men were called together, and the Lord led them into battle).
Will take the best property and spread it among his friends (today we have the National Park Service, which takes multiplied millions of acres from the owners).
Will take their money a tax on everything.
The people will be no more than servants to the king; he will regard them as no more than there to do his bidding.
He will desire to control everything imaginable, and will work toward that end. In fact, he will be god to the people because they rejected the Lord as their God.
Vv. 11-17 describes precisely what has happened to once Christian America as the people have turned from God, they now have many full time "lawmakers" trying to find laws to make to justify their existence.
V. 18, the people will cry out because of the oppression, yet the Lord will not hear them.
[7/29/84, February 10, 2000]
Samuel protested, and told them what would happen. Yet they still wanted a king:
1) like all the nations
2) that he may judge us
3) so he can go out before them
4) so he could fight their battles
Judge us..., go before us..., fight our battles.
However, the Lord had done #2-4 in chapter 7, so the very ones who were making this demand had seen the Lord do all his marvelous works. Thus their demand of the Lord was exceeding sinful, for it clearly revealed their departure from their God who supplied all their needs. I would say this was as bad as the Calf. No sooner than they were out of Egypt by the mighty hand of God, they built and worshiped the Calf, which is what the Lord pointed out to Samuel, v. 8.
These three things are what the Lord wants to do for his people, but people would rather have a imperfect leader (fallen like they are), than have a Holy and Righteous leader who requires holiness of them.
Of course, it is also easier to follow one we can see than to follow one we cannot see. It is much easier to walk by sight than by faith. This is a reason so many follow preachers rather than the Lord; when the preacher goes, so do they.
The request was clearly motivated by, That we may also be like all the nations.
God did not call Israel (nor us) to be like the nations around us:
2 Corinthians 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
He called his people Israel, including the new Israel, to be different:
1 Corinthians 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
We are told here that there are some who have not the knowledge of God because God's people become like those around them. Why should they want something that is like what they have. But then again, maybe the unsaved desire to have a "religion" that permits them to continue to act like pagans. The flesh is still an enemy, and it continually desires to live after the fallen desires of the flesh, whether converted or not. However, the converted man has a stronger desire to live after the Spirit than he does after the flesh.
Even after Samuel's strong protest and warning, the people still wanted a king, someone to replace the Lord God before them.
The desire was to be like those around them, which lead to a clear departure from the Lord.
February 10, 2000