1 Samuel 8

The Israelites ask for a king

1 When Samuel was old, he made his sons judges for the Israelites. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel. The name of his second son was Abijah. They were judges in Beersheba town. 3 But Samuel's sons did not live in a good way, as Samuel had done. They took money from people in ways that were not honest. They accepted bribes so that they did not judge in a fair way.

8:1At least 20 years had passed since the battle at Mizpah in chapter 7.

4 So all of Israel's leaders went together to meet Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, ‘You are old. Your sons do not live in the way that you have done. All the other nations have kings to lead them. So choose a king to rule over us, like they have.’

6 When Israel's leaders said, ‘Choose a king who will lead us,’ Samuel was not happy. So he prayed to the Lord. 7 The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to everything that the people are saying to you. I myself should be their king. So it is not you that they refuse to accept. It is me that they do not accept to be their king. 8 They are doing what they have always done. Since I brought them out of Egypt they have continued to turn away from me. They have chosen to serve other gods. Now they are turning against you in the same way. 9 So do what they are asking you to do. But warn them about what will happen. Tell them how their kings will rule over them.’

10 Samuel spoke to the people who had asked him to give them a king. He told them everything that the Lord had said to him. 11 Samuel said to them, ‘This is how the king will rule over you: He will take your sons to be his soldiers. They will ride his horses and they will drive his chariots. They will have to run in front of his own chariot. 12 The king will choose some of your sons to be officers in his army. Some will be leaders of 1,000 soldiers. Others will be leaders of 50 soldiers. Some of your sons will have to plough the king's fields. They will have to cut his crops at harvest time. They will have to make weapons for the king to fight wars. They will have to fix his chariots. 13 The king will take your daughters to serve him. They will have to make perfume for him. They will also have to cook and bake bread for him. 14 The king will take your best fields, vines and olive trees away from you. He will give all these to his own officers. 15 He will take a tenth part of all your seeds and grapes. He will give them to his officers and servants. 16 He will take your male and female servants for himself. He will take your best cows and your donkeys. He will use them for his own work. 17 He will take a tenth of all your sheep and your goats. You yourselves will become his servants too. 18 Then you will complain loudly to the Lord about your king that you have chosen to lead you. But the Lord will not answer you when you do that.’

19 But the people would not listen to Samuel. They said, ‘No! We want a king to rule us. 20 We want to be like all the other nations! We want a king to rule us. He will be our leader when we go to fight our enemies.’

21 Samuel listened to everything that the people said. Then he told the Lord about it all. 22 The Lord said to Samuel, ‘You must do what they want. You must give a king to them.’

Then Samuel told Israel's people, ‘Return to your own towns, each of you.’