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Bible Commentaries

Sermon Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 8



Verses 4-8

1 Samuel 8:4-8

The Book of Kings is also the Book of Samuel, not merely because the individual man was the last of the judges and poured the anointing oil upon the first two of the kings, but because he represented in his own person a power and a position which were quite different from theirs, and yet which could not be rightly understood apart from theirs.

I. Samuel was a witness that a hereditary priesthood derives all its worth from a Divine presence, which is not shut up in it or limited by it, and that without that presence it means nothing and is nothing, nay, becomes worse than nothing, a plague and cancer in the society, poisoning its very heart, spreading disease and death through it.

II. The signal downfall of the nation which took place in Samuel's day, when the ark, the symbol of the people's unity, was captured by the Philistines, prepared the way for great national changes. Samuel's reformation awakened in the people a sense of order to which they had been strangers before. But Samuel's sons did not walk in his ways. They were self-seekers; they were suspected of taking bribes. The effect of this distrust was just that which proceeds in all ages from the same cause—dissatisfaction, a cry for change, a feeling that the fault of the person who administers implies some evil or defect in that which he has to administer. The degeneracy of Samuel's sons made the people long for a different sort of rule, for one which should be less irregular and fluctuating.

III. The request for a king displeased Samuel because he had a sense that there was something wrong in the wish of his countrymen. He may have felt their ingratitude to himself; he may have thought that his government was better than any they were likely to substitute for it.

IV. God's answer to Samuel's prayer was a very strange one. "Hearken unto them, for they have rejected Me. Let them have their way, seeing that they are not changing a mere form of government, but breaking loose from the principle upon which their nation has stood from its foundation." The Jews were asking for heavy punishments, which they needed, without which the evil that was in them could not have been brought to light or cured. But beneath their dark counterfeit image of a king was hidden the image of a true King reigning in righteousness, who would not judge after the sight of His eye nor reprove after the hearing of His ear, but would smite the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips would slay the wicked.

F. D. Maurice, The Prophets and Kings of the Old Testament, p. 1.

References: 1 Samuel 8:5.—Parker, vol. vi., p. 280. 1 Samuel 8:6.—Ibid., vol. vii., p. 62. 1 Samuel 8:6-9.—G. B. Ryley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 237. 1 Samuel 8:19.—J. Van Oosterzee, Year of Salvation, vol. ii., p. 422. 1 Samuel 8:22.—Parker, vol. vii., p. 62. 1Sam 8—Homiletic Magazine, vol. vii., p. 118. 1 Samuel 9:11-13.—Expositor, 2nd series, vol. vi., p. 245. 1 Samuel 9:20.—H. Hayman, Sermons Preached in Rugby School Chapel. p. 29. 1 Samuel 9:27.—J. Thain Davidson, Talks with Young Men, p. 17; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvi., No. 1547; Preacher's Monthly. vol. v., p. 62. 1Sam 9—W. Hanna, Sunday Magazine, 1865, p. 21. 1 Samuel 10:6.—Parker, vol. vii., p. 63. 1 Samuel 10:9.—Ibid., vol. vi., p. 290. 1 Samuel 10:12.—Old Testament Outlines, p. 62; G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 284. 1 Samuel 10:24.—Parker, vol. vi., p. 299. 1 Samuel 10:26.—J. Burns, Sketches of Sermons on Special Occasions, p. 153. 1Sam 10—R. Lorimer, Bible Studies in Life and Truth, p. 71; W. Hanna, Sunday Magazine, 1865, p. 105; Homiletic Magazine, vol. vii., p. 167. 1 Samuel 11:14.—Parker, vol. vii., p. 64. 1Sam 11—Ibid., vol. vi., p. 305. 1 Samuel 12:1.—F. W. Robertson, Sermons, 4th series, p. 14. 1 Samuel 12:1, 1 Samuel 12:2.—S. W. Skeffington, Our Sins or Our Saviour, p. 214; Preacher's Monthly, vol. iv., p. 28. 1 Samuel 12:1-25.—Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 336. 1 Samuel 12:2, 1 Samuel 12:3.—J. R. Macduff, Good Words, 1862, p. 524; Sermons for the Christian Seasons, 2nd series, vol. ii., p. 681. 1 Samuel 12:7.—Parker, vol. vii., p. 65. 1 Samuel 12:10.—Ibid., p. 66. 1 Samuel 12:12.—Bishop Woodford, Sermons on Subjects from the Old Testament, p. 66. 1 Samuel 12:14.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 125. 1 Samuel 12:16, 1 Samuel 12:19.—W. Spensley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvi., p. 59. 1 Samuel 12:17.—R. Heber, Parish Sermons, vol. ii., p. 25.


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Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 8:4". "Sermon Bible Commentary".

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