- Samuel's decay and the degeneracy of his sons, verse 1-3.
- The people petition him for a king, who refers it to God, verse 4-6.
- God directs him what answer to give, verse 7-18.
- They insist upon their petition, verse 19, 20.
- Which he promises, shall be granted, verse 21, 22.
Old - And so unfit for his former travels and labours. He is not supposed to have been now above sixty years of age. But he had spent his strength and spirits in the fatigue of public business: and now if he thinks to shake himself as at other times, he finds he is mistaken: age has cut his hair. They that are in the prime of their years, ought to be busy in doing the work of life: for as they go into years, they will find themselves less disposed to it, and less capable of it. Judges - Not supreme judges, for such there was to be but one, and that of God's chusing; and Samuel still kept that office in his own hands, chap. 7:15, but his deputies, to go about and determine matters, but with reservation of a right of appeals to himself. He had doubtless instructed them in a singular manner, and fitted them for the highest employments; and he hoped that the example he had sent them, and the authority he still had over them, would oblige them to diligence and faithfulness in their trust.
Beer-sheba - In the southern border of the land of Canaan, which were very remote from his house at Ramah; where, and in the neighbouring places Samuel himself still executing the office of judge.
Took bribes - Opportunity and temptation discovered that corruption in them which 'till now was hid from their father. It has often been the grief of holy men, that their children did not tread in their steps. So far from it, that the sons of eminently good men, have been often eminently wicked.
A king - Their desires exceed their reasons, which extended no farther than to the removal of Samuel's sons from their places, and the procuring some other just: and prudent assistance to Samuel's age. Nor was the grant of their desire a remedy for their disease, but rather an aggravation of it. For the sons of their king were likely to he as corrupt as Samuel's sons and, if they were, would not be so easily removed. Like other nations - That is, as most of the nations about us have. But there was not the like reason; because God had separated them from all other nations, and cautioned them against the imitation of their examples, and had taken them into his own immediate care and government; which privilege other nations had not.
Displeased - Because God was hereby dishonoured by that distrust of him, and that ambition, and itch after changes, which were the manifest causes of this desire; and because of that great misery, which he foresaw the people would hereby bring upon themselves. Prayed - For the pardon of their sin, and direction and help from God in this great affair.
Hearken - God grants their desire in anger, and for their punishment. Rejected me - This injury and contumely, reflects chiefly upon me and my government. Should not reign - By my immediate government, which was the great honour, safety, and happiness of this people, if they had had hearts to prize it.
So do they - Thou farest no worse than myself. This he speaks for Samuel's comfort and vindication.
Ye protest - That, if it be possible, thou mayst yet prevent their sin and misery. The manner - That is, of the kings which they desire like the kings of other nations.
Will take - Injuriously and by violence.
Will appoint - Heb. To, or for himself; for his own fancy, or glory, and not only when the necessities of the kingdom require it. And though this might seem to he no incumbrance, but an honour to the persons so advanced, yet even in them that honour was accompanied with great dangers, and pernicious snares of many kinds, which those faint shadows of glory could not recompense; and as to the public, their pomp and power proved very burdensome to the people, whose lands and fruits were taken from them, and bestowed upon these, for the support of their state. Will set them - At his own pleasure, when possibly their own fields required all their time and pains. He will press them for all sorts of his work, and that upon his own terms.
Daughters - Which would be more grievous to their parents, and more dangerous to themselves, because of the tenderness of that sex, and their liableness to many injuries.
Your fields - By fraud or force, as Ahab did from Naboth. His servants - He will not only take the fruits of your lands for his own use, but will take away your possessions to give to his servants.
The tenth - Besides the several tenths which God hath reserved for his service, he will, when he pleaseth, impose another tenth upon you. Officers - Heb. To his eunuchs, which may imply a farther injury, that he should against the command of God, make some of his people eunuchs; and take those into his court and favour, which God would have cast out of the congregation.
Will take - By constraint, and without sufficient recompense.
His servants - That is, he will use you like slaves, and deprive you of that liberty which now you enjoy.
Cry out - Ye shall bitterly mourn for the sad effects of this inordinate desire of a king. Will not hear - Because you will not hear, nor obey his counsel in this day.
Be like - What stupidity! It was their happiness that they were unlike all other nations, Numbers 23:9; Deuteronomy 33:28, as in other glorious privileges, so especially in this, that the Lord was their immediate king and lawgiver. But they will have a king to go out before them, and to fight their battles. Could they desire a battle better fought for them than the last was, by Samuel's prayers and God's thunders? Were they fond to try the chance of war, at the same uncertainty that others did? And what was the issue? Their first king was slain in battle: and so was Joshua, one of the last and best.
Rehearsed - He repeated them privately between God and himself; for his own vindication and comfort: and as a foundation for his prayers to God, for direction and assistance.
Go - Betake yourselves to your several occasions, till you hear more from me in this matter.