Request for a King. 1* In his old age Samuel appointed his sons judges over Israel.a 2His firstborn was named Joel, his second son, Abijah; they judged at Beer-sheba. 3His sons did not follow his example, but looked to their own gain, accepting bribes and perverting justice.b 4Therefore all the elders of Israel assembled and went to Samuel at Ramah 5and said to him, “Now that you are old, and your sons do not follow your example, appoint a king over us, like all the nations, to rule us.”c
6Samuel was displeased when they said, “Give us a king to rule us.” But he prayed to the LORD. 7The LORD said: Listen to whatever the people say. You are not the one they are rejecting. They are rejecting me as their king.d 8They are acting toward you just as they have acted from the day I brought them up from Egypt to this very day, deserting me to serve other gods. 9Now listen to them; but at the same time, give them a solemn warning and inform them of the rights of the king who will rule them.
The Governance of the King. 10Samuel delivered the message of the LORD in full to those who were asking him for a king. 11He told them: “The governance of the king who will rule you will be as follows: He will take your sons and assign them to his chariots and horses, and they will run before his chariot.e 12He will appoint from among them his commanders of thousands and of hundreds. He will make them do his plowing and harvesting and produce his weapons of war and chariotry.f 13He will use your daughters as perfumers, cooks, and bakers. 14He will take your best fields, vineyards, and olive groves, and give them to his servants.g 15He will tithe your crops and grape harvests to give to his officials* and his servants.h 16He will take your male and female slaves, as well as your best oxen and donkeys, and use them to do his work. 17He will also tithe your flocks. As for you, you will become his slaves.i 18On that day you will cry out because of the king whom you have chosen, but the LORD will not answer you on that day.”
Persistent Demand. 19The people, however, refused to listen to Samuel’s warning and said, “No! There must be a king over us.j 20We too must be like all the nations, with a king to rule us, lead us in warfare, and fight our battles.” 21Samuel listened to all the concerns of the people and then repeated them to the LORD. 22The LORD said: Listen to them! Appoint a king to rule over them. Then Samuel said to the people of Israel, “Return, each one of you, to your own city.”*
* [8:1–22] From this chapter on, the editors of 1 Samuel provide two and sometimes three perspectives on the same event: e.g., the selection of Saul as king is recounted in chap. 8; 10:17–24; chap. 12.
* [8:15] Officials: lit., eunuchs. These high-ranking administrators were not necessarily emasculated.