Samuel ordered everyone in Israel to gather at Mizpah. It was the same place where, several years earlier, Samuel had become Israelís leader and judge (7:5-6). Now Israelís people wanted a king (1 Samuel chapter 8) and Samuel was ready to introduce that king to them.
The message from God that Samuel declared on that occasion was very severe. God reminded the people about the history of their nation. It was God who saved them from their hard lives as slaves in Egypt. God had rescued them from every enemy that had fought against them. In every trouble, God was ready to help them. However, they had not been loyal to God.
Again, powerful enemies were ready to attack Israel, and its people were afraid (12:12). However, they did not want to trust God, as Samuel had always urged them to do (7:3). Instead, they wanted to have a powerful king who would lead their soldiers into battle (8:20).
In 1 Samuel 12:17, Samuel says that their desire for a king was evil. It was wrong and evil to want to serve a king instead of God. It is wrong when people choose to trust another person and not to trust God. It is evil if we decide not to allow God to rule our lives completely.
God had chosen to give the people what they wanted. They would have a king, although that king would make them like slaves (8:10-18).
Perhaps the people expected that, after his speech, Samuel would appoint a powerful man to be the king. Samuel did not do that. Instead, he ordered all the people to arrange themselves into family groups. Then God himself would show them the man whom he had chosen to be their king.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.