1 Samuel 8:20 MEANING

1 Samuel 8:20
(20) Like all the nations.--There is something strangely painful in these terms with which the elders urged their request--the wish "to be like other nations" seems to have been very strong with them. They forgot, or chose to ignore, the solitary position of lofty pre-eminence God had given them among the nations. They had, it is true, failed to comprehend it in past, as in present days, but this haste to give up their lofty privileges, and to descend from the pedestal on which their God had set them, was in the eye of one like Samuel a strange inexplicable foolishness.

8:10-22 If they would have a king to rule them, as the eastern kings ruled their subjects, they would find the yoke exceedingly heavy. Those that submit to the government of the world and the flesh, are told plainly, what hard masters they are, and what tyranny the dominion of sin is. The law of God and the manner of men widely differ from each other; the former should be our rule in the several relations of life; the latter should be the measure of our expectations from others. These would be their grievances, and, when they complained to God, he would not hear them. When we bring ourselves into distress by our own wrong desires and projects, we justly forfeit the comfort of prayer, and the benefit of Divine aid. The people were obstinate and urgent in their demand. Sudden resolves and hasty desires make work for long and leisurely repentance. Our wisdom is, to be thankful for the advantages, and patient under the disadvantages of the government we may live under; and to pray continually for our rulers, that they may govern us in the fear of God, and that we may live under them in all godliness and honesty. And it is a hopeful symptom when our desires of worldly objects can brook delay; and when we can refer the time and manner of their being granted to God's providence.That we also may be like all the nations,.... Even though they were slaves, like them; a king they would have, as they had, such was their stupidity. It was their greatest honour and glory, as well as happiness, not to be like other nations; as in their religion, laws, and liberties, so in their form of government; God being their King in such a peculiar sense as he was not of others, but with this they could not be content:

and that our king may judge us; hear their causes, administer justice and judgment to them, protect their persons and properties, and rule them according to the civil laws that were given them:

and go out before us, and fight our battles; which Samuel their present judge did not, and to which perhaps they may have some respect; but then he gained more for them by his prayers, than a king or general would by his military skill or prowess, see 1 Samuel 7:10, and it is very remarkable, and what is observed by some, that their first king died in a battle. What made them so pressing and importunate to have a king at, this time, and not defer it to another, it is very probable was, that they understood that Nahash, king of the children of Ammon, was preparing to attack them, and therefore they were desirous to have a king also to go out before them, and meet him, and give him battle, 1 Samuel 12:12.

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