(8:1–15:35) DIVISION OVERVIEW: after the great revival and the miraculous defeat of the Philistine army, Samuel led Israel for the next thirty-plus years. He served as the last judge the nation would ever have, for as Samuel aged and his sons proved to be unjust and corrupt judges, the people demanded that Samuel change the very form of government that ruled over Israel. In looking around, the people decided they wanted a government just like the surrounding states; they wanted to be ruled by a king "like all the nations" (8:5). There were at least three major reasons why the people pressured Samuel to place a king over them before his death.

1.  Politically, there were not and never had been enough qualified judges to lead the nation. Samuel's two sons were just the latest examples of this tragic fact (8:3-5).

2.  Militarily and economically, the nation was suffering under continued oppression from the Philistines and from other surrounding nations. Bands of marauders often swooped down upon Israelite villages and cities to steal their crops, livestock, and valuables, especially during harvest season (Judges 6:1-5). The stress of living under constant oppression and seeing their wives and children suffer (as so many war victims do) by being raped, abused, and enslaved, took its toll upon the people. The only answer seemed to be a king who would build a standing army to protect the citizens of Israel.

3.  Spiritually, the people had failed to live righteous lives, failed to obey God's commandments. They were living sinful, wicked lives. By their sin, the people had alienated and separated themselves from God. As a result, they were living without God's...

•  presence

•  peace

•  guidance

•  provision

•  protection

Since the days of Moses, the Lord had always given these wonderful promises to the Israelites. And when the people walked obediently, living righteous lives, they experienced God's wonderful promises. He Himself became the people's Savior, Guide, Provider, and Protector.

But now the Israelites had decided they no longer wanted to live under the sole authority of the Lord. They wanted to live first under the authority of an earthly king, a king who would be visibly present and who they thought could bring peace and security to their hearts and lives, guiding, protecting, and providing whatever they needed.

Surprisingly, the Lord granted the people's request. He told Samuel to give them a king. Why? Because their request for a king was not wrong. God had even made provision in His law for the appointment of a king to rule over His people (Deuteronomy 17:14-20; see also Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:7, 17).

What then was wrong with the people's request for a king? Their motive, their purpose: they wanted a king "like all the nations" had (8:5), not a king "after God's own heart" (13:14). It was God's purpose to give His people a king "after His own heart," a king who would hold authority under the supreme authority of God, who would rule the people under the supreme rule of the Lord. The king was to be just as responsible as the people to love and obey the Lord. Therefore, he was to serve the people under the authority and commandments of God.

In granting the people's request, the Lord appointed a promising young man to become the first king of Israel. His name was Saul and he was a most impressive young man with enormous potential for leadership and service as the national leader of Israel. In appearance he was the ideal man. He was tall, standing head and shoulders above others, with a striking, handsome face and a charismatic appeal.

But King Saul was to fail, becoming unfit and disqualified to serve the Lord. He proved to be just what the people had requested: a king just "like all the nations" (8:5). He was a king who ignored God's Word and gave in to the craving lusts of his flesh. Consequently, his life and reign ended up being a disastrous tragedy.



A.  The Demand of Israel for a King: Choosing the Ways of the World and Rejecting God, 8:1-22

B.  The Choice of Saul to Be King: A Look at a Promising Young Man, 9:1-27

C.  The Private Anointing and Public Installation of Saul as King: Receiving a New, Changed Heart, 10:1-27

D.  The First Military Victory of Saul and His Affirmation As King: Gaining the Victory over One's Enemies, 11:1-15

E.  The Message Preached by Samuel at the Coronation of King Saul: The Utter Necessity for Repentance and Faithful Service, 12:1-25

F.  The Unlawful Act That Made Saul Unfit to Be King: Being Disqualified to Serve the Lord, 13:1-23

G.  The Continued Decline of Saul: Weak Faith, Spiritual Insensitivity, and Misguided, Carnal Zeal, 14:1-52

H.  The Lord's Rejection of Saul As King: The Seriousness of Disobeying God, 15:1-35