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1 Samuel 8:6 NASB

6 But the thing was [a]displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord.

But Moses had already foretold about this event years earlier,so why was Samuel reluctant to appoint them a king.

Deutoronomy 17:14 NASB

14 “When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you possess it and live in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’ 15 you shall surely set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses, one from among your [l]countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your [m]countryman.

Why was Samuel reluctant to appoint the king?

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Samuel felt that the elders asking for a king was a rejection of him and his leadership. God reassures Samuel in the next verse that the people aren't really rejecting him, but are rejecting God:

The Lᴏʀᴅ said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.”

-1 Samuel 8:7 (NASB)

Samuel was the last of the Judges, and he used to make a circuit from his home in Ramah to Bethel, to Gigal, to Mizpah, then back to Ramah:

15 Now Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16 He used to go annually on circuit to Bethel and Gilgal and Mizpah, and he judged Israel in all these places. 17 Then his return was to Ramah, for his house was there, and there he judged Israel; [...]

-1 Samuel 7:15-17 (NASB)

After years of judging Israel, it surely must have stung a little for the people you led for so long to ask for a different leader.

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I suggest that Samuel was reluctant to appoint a king precisely because Moses had said what might happen. Specifically, the king of Israel was NOT to (Deut 17:16, 17)

  • Multiply horses
  • Return to Egypt
  • Multiply wives
  • Increase silver and gold for himself

This is exactly what did happen with Saul, David and particularly Solomon and all subsequent kings. Samuel could see what would happen and understood how corrosive that would be to the spiritual health of the nation - Samuel gives a detailed prophecy about what kings would do in 1 Sam 8:11-18 which is an expansion of the warnings given above from Deut 17. He repeats the warning in 1 Sam 12:15-17.

Unfortunately, the royal dynasty became exactly as Samuel prophesied - so bad in the end that God had to send them into Babylonian captivity to arouse their spiritual lethargy.

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