Israel’s Demand for a King -- By: G. Coleman Luck

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 120:477 (Jan 1963)
Article: Israel’s Demand for a King
Author: G. Coleman Luck


Israel’s Demand for a King

G. Coleman Luck

[G. Coleman Luck, Book Review Editor, Moody Monthly, Faculty, Moody Bible Institute, Chicago.]

After the failure of Eli and his sons, Samuel, one of the truly great characters of the entire Bible, became both priest and judge (1 Sam 7:15–17). In these offices he served effectively until the swiftly passing years, with their continual heavy responsibilities, brought him (as they eventually do all of us) to the brink of old age. At this point in the life of Samuel in the history of Israel, the nation demanded a king.

The Error of Samuel

“And it came to pass when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beer-sheba. And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment” (1 Sam 8:13). These words record the first mistake which the Bible ascribes to Samuel. It is sad to see that he committed this blunder not in the impetuosity of youth but when he was old.

If it be God’s will that we, His present-day servants, continue on this earth until old age is upon us, may He deliver us from such a finish. A certain useful believer, who not long ago went to be with the Lord, as he approached old age, often prayed: “Father, keep me from being a wicked old man.” To this petition he always added a second: “Keep me from being a foolish old man.” In this world, with human nature what it is, and Satan always on the alert, it is often the same, so far as result is concerned, to be weak and foolish as it is to be actively wicked.

It is evident that as age began to take its physical toll,

Samuel felt the need of assistance in his arduous duties. Therefore he turned a portion of his responsibility over to his two sons. This was a most natural and easily made mistake on his part, but nevertheless an error still. Outstanding leaders such as Moses, Joshua, and Gideon had not attempted to turn over their God-given authority to their sons. Samuel should likewise have waited for Jehovah to raise up a successor.

“It may be doubted whether Samuel acted wisely in making this appointment, especially if, as seems to have been understood, the nomination in his lifetime of his sons to fulfill the functions he had hitherto discharged alone was an intimation that he meant them to be regarded as his successors in such government as he exercised. Nothing of this kind had been done before. And thus, almost uncons...

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