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There were three reasons why the people wanted to change from judges to a king. First, Samuel’s sons were wicked and the people did not want them to rule (I Samuel 8:5). Second, the people wanted to be the same as other nations. “Make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” Third, Israel did not want God to rule over them. God told Samuel, “…they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” (I Samuel 8:7). All the people gathered Samuel and demanded Samuel give them a king. Samuel was very disappointed. He prayed to God for wisdom in his decision.

 “But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.”
— I Samuel 8:6

God told Samuel to give the people what they wanted but first to tell them that a king would not make them happy. Samuel stood before the people and told them what would happen if they had a king. The people listened but they refused the advice of Samuel. They refused to obey God. They cried, “We will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles” (I Samuel 8:19-20). The first king was appointed by God but other kings in the future had to be born into the family of the king. A son of the king would usually become the next king. The people could not choose their kings as they did their judges. A king was ruler over all the people in his land as long as he lived. He made decisions about the government. He led the people in battles. He made laws for the people to obey. There were many kings over Israel but only a few followed God. Many of the kings worshipped false gods and idols and led the people into sin. The kings ruled over Israel for about 500 years. Jerusalem was destroyed and defeated in battle and other kings from ungodly nations ruled over them. Samuel was right, it would have been better if the people had let God be their king. The people got what they wanted and it brought them much trouble and heartache. Always remember, God knows what is best!


Israel demanded a king. They refused the leadership of God and wanted to be the same as other nations. Samuel warned the people that a king would lead them into sin but they refused the advice of Samuel. They demanded a king to rule over them. God told Samuel He would choose a man to be the king. God sent a man to Samuel and said, “Behold the man whom I spake to thee of … shall reign over my people” (I Samuel 9:17). Samuel then anointed Saul to become the first King (1 Samuel 10:1). Samuel called all the people together. He told them that they had refused God to rule over them. God would give them a king. Samuel told the people that Saul was to be the king (1 Samuel 10:24). Israel wanted to be like other nations. They did not want a judge or God, but wanted a king to rule over them. Saul was a tall, handsome young man. Saul looked like a king! He was made the king of Israel. The people all shouted with happiness. They had a king to lead them. They would be like the other nations. After Saul was made king the enemy attacked Israel. Saul called the people together and led them into battle. Saul proved his leadership and won the battle. The people rejoiced because their new king was a good soldier and leader. Samuel told Saul and the people to follow God and they would always be blessed of God.
Saul was the first king and all the people loved and followed him. Saul could have been a great king, but Saul did not obey God. This is a sad story of a man who could have been a great king. Saul failed because he did not obey God. He feared the people and obeyed them. Samuel told Saul that to obey God was most important. Saul lied to Samuel but God knew his heart. Saul blamed the people for his disobedience.

“And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed be thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD. And Samuel said, What meaneth then this bleating of the sheep…and the lowing of the oxen…? And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD… the rest we have utterly destroyed. … And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes…and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel? And the LORD… Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD… And Samuel said…Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice… Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”
— I Samuel 15:13-23


You cannot hide sin from God. Saul lied to Samuel. Saul did some but not all that he was commanded to do. Partial obedience is still disobedience. There is no compromise or middle ground with God. When Saul disobeyed God, Samuel left him. He never saw him again. Samuel loved Saul very much and wept for him. Finally God told Samuel to stop praying for Saul because he had refused Him. He told Samuel to forget about Saul because soon He would make a new king over Israel. Saul could have been a great king if only he had obeyed and followed God. The people of Israel did not want God to rule over them. They wanted to copy the ungodly people. They refused the ways of God and wanted their own way. God will bless a nation that obeys Him. Saul could have been a great king. Many Christians could become great if they would only obey God. Do not be the same as Saul.

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