1 Samuel 8

The Israelites ask for a king

1 When Samuel was old, he made his sons rulers in Israel. 2 His first son was Joel and his second son was Abijah. They were rulers in the town called Beersheba. 3 But Samuel's sons did not do good things as Samuel had done. They tried to get money in ways that were not right. They accepted money from bad people when nobody was looking. Then they would not punish them.

8:3At least 20 years had passed since the battle at Mizpah in chapter 7.

4 So the leaders of Israel met together and they went to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to Samuel, ‘You are old. Your sons do not do good things as you have done. Give to us a king who will rule over us. The other nations have a king. We want one too.’

6 Samuel was not happy that the leaders asked for a king. So he prayed to the Lord. 7 The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to everything that the people say to you. They have not refused to have you as their leader. Instead, they have refused to have me as their king. 8 Today they are doing what they have always done. I brought them out of the country called Egypt. But they left me and they worshipped other gods. Now they are doing the same to you. 9 Listen to the people. But tell them what will happen. Tell them what their kings will do to them.’

10 Samuel spoke to the people who had asked him for a king. He told them everything that the Lord had said. 11 Samuel said, ‘The king will rule over you. And this is what he will do. He will take your sons to be his soldiers. They will drive his horses and chariots. And they will run in front of his chariots. 12 The king will make some of your sons leaders of 1,000 soldiers. Other sons will be leaders of groups of 50 soldiers. The king will cause some of your sons to plough his ground. Then they will have to bring to him the food that they have caused to grow. Other sons will have to make weapons for war and weapons for his chariots. 13 The king will take your daughters. They will make him oils that have good smells. They will also cook and bake his food. 14 The king will take your best fields. He will take the places where you find the best grapes and olives. He will give all these to his officers. 15 Then he will take a tenth part of all your seeds and grapes. He will give this to his officers and servants. 16 He will take your male and female servants. He will take your best young men and your donkeys. He will use them for his own work. 17 He will take a tenth of all your sheep. And he will cause you to be his servants too. 18 Then you will shout to the Lord about your king that you have chosen. But the Lord will not answer you then.’

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 with a king to rule us. He will be our leader when we go to war. He will fight for us (on our behalf).’

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

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