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A Solemn Warning

1 Samuel 8:4-9, 19-22 (The Message)

Fed up, all the elders of Israel got together and confronted Samuel at Ramah. They presented their case: “Look, you’re an old man, and your sons aren’t following in your footsteps. Here’s what we want you to do: Appoint a king to rule us, just like everybody else.”

When Samuel heard their demand—“Give us a king to rule us!”—he was crushed. How awful! Samuel prayed to God.

God answered Samuel, “Go ahead and do what they’re asking. They are not rejecting you. They’ve rejected me as their King. From the day I brought them out of Egypt until this very day they’ve been behaving like this, leaving me for other gods. And now they’re doing it to you. So let them have their own way. But warn them of what they’re in for. Tell them the way kings operate, just what they’re likely to get from a king.”

But the people wouldn’t listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We will have a king to rule us! Then we’ll be just like all the other nations. Our king will rule us and lead us and fight our battles.”

Samuel took in what they said and rehearsed it with God. God told Samuel, “Do what they say. Make them a king.”

Then Samuel dismissed the men of Israel: “Go home, each of you to your own city.”


In this passage, the elders of Israel go to Samuel with their desire to have an earthly king. They wanted to be like the other nations. Samuel doesn’t like the idea but agrees to ask God about it anyway. The Lord tells Samuel to give them a king, but He also gives them warnings about what this earthly king will be like. The new king will do as he pleases and take what he wants with no regard for the people of Israel. Samuel takes this warning to the elders, but they still request a king. So, Samuel does as they request and gives them a king.  

Through this request, the nation of Israel rejects God. They reject the plan that He had for them. They reject the guidance He gave them. And, in return, Israel receives many kings throughout the years who act just as God warned they would. The kings of Israel are selfish, unjust, and ruthless.

Just like the Israelites, we face decisions that affect our everyday lives. Hopefully, when we face those decisions, we go to people we trust for advice. We may seek wise counsel from a spouse, close friend, boss, or mentor, and this isn’t wrong! But the most important counsel we can seek is God’s. The One who made us is the One who provides the wisest counsel.

When we go to God, we have to be open to the things He speaks to us and the answers He provides. If He tells us “no” or provides warnings of what could happen if we make the wrong decision, we would be wise to listen and obey.

When we ignore His counsel, or even refuse to seek it out, we are just like the Israelites in their desire to have a king. We are rejecting God. We are rejecting the plan He has for us and the guidance He gives. And, in turn, we may likely face painful consequences.

Action Steps

Think through the following questions.

1. What decisions in your life have you made without the wise counsel of God? How did things end?

2. What warnings from God might you be ignoring in your life?

Spend some time in prayer surrendering these things to God and ask for His guidance.

God, thank You for the guidance You give me. Thank You for the love that You show. As I make decisions in my life, please speak to me the things You want me to hear. Show me the correct things to do and say. If I am ignoring Your warnings, reveal that to me. Allow me to bring my pains and hurts to You and walk with me in those situations. Your plans are greater than mine. Help me always remember that. In Jesus name, amen.

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