1 Samuel 8:4-9
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him,
'You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us,
like other nations.' But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, 'Give us a king to govern us.'
Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, 'Listen to the voice of the people in all
that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king
over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day,
forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice;
only--you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over
Samuel's word had authority throughout Israel (1 Samuel 3:20). The following chapters tell how he
was guided by God and able to overcome the many attacks from neighbouring hostile countries.
But earlier chapters have shown that he did not have authority over his sons, whose behaviour
In today's reading, Samuel is an old man and his authority over the people has passed to his
sons. But they misused their authority, ruling unjustly and encouraging worship of heathen gods.
This caused some of the leaders of the people to ask Samuel to appoint another ruler – a king as
other nations had. This Samuel thought was a big mistake. They should be ruled by the guidance
of the God who had rescued them from slavery, and had their true welfare at heart. Kings at that
time were despots and self- serving. But God over-ruled Samuel, saying the people were not
prepared to serve him, so they should have a king, but Samuel must warn them of the
As Christians, our lives should be guided by God. Often that does not conflict with the ways of
society. But sometimes we must stand up for our values in conflict with those around us. We must
be law-abiding citizens but there are occasions when we know Christian values conflict with
legislation. Should we not make our voices heard when this happens? We may be guided to join
protests, sign petitions, write to our members of Parliament. As Samuel saw in relation to the
people of Israel, our ruler should be our God, who has our true welfare at heart.
Almighty God, as we look forward to celebrating your coming in human form, help us to live by the
values of your kingdom, being guided by your Spirit. Amen