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Reflecting on First Samuel 8
Imagine the kinds of vulnerabilities ancient peoples would have if they lacked a warrior-king and a standing army? What are the kinds of problems that people would face in their day to day lives?
Read and take notes on 1 Samuel 8:1-22.
What is the problem with the people asking for a king?
One view is that that ancient Israel was supposed to be a people with no king. Read 1 Samuel 8:6 and Judges 8:22-23. How do these contexts fit with this view?
Another view is that God had planned all along for his people to have a king. Read Genesis 49:8-12 and Deuteronomy 17:14-20. According to David it has always been God’s will for a human king to rule over the kingdom of the Lord (see 1 Chron 28:1-7, esp. v. 5) (for see activity on 1 Chron 28). How do these contexts fit with this view?
According to this second view, the problem is not that the people want a king, but why the people desire a king.
Why do they want a king? Read several contexts to discover some of the reasons: (a) 1 Samuel 8:1-3 with Deuteronomy 16:18-20; (b) 1 Samuel 8:7 and 1 Samuel 10:17-19; (c) 1 Samuel 8:19-20 (d) 1 Samuel 12:12 and Deuteronomy 7:17-21.
This is a tricky issue. What are your thoughts on the question of a human king for Israel in 1 Samuel 8?
Reflect on selected implications. (a) Read Deuteronomy 6:4-9. What are our responsibilities toward instructing the up-and-coming generation? (b) Read Romans 13:1-7. What does this say about the human rulers of the Roman empire? Why might some of the believers at Rome have found Paul’s teaching a bit challenging, almost troubling? What is our role and our responsibilities toward the rulers established over us? (c) Read Psalm 89:1-4, 46-52. What is the psalmists’ posture toward the Davidic promises? What are the implications for Christians who serve the Jesus the son of David? (d) One of the most difficult issues that 1 Samuel 8 raises is the people’s inability to be honest with themselves about what their real problems and needs were. What things did they think were their problems and needs? What were their true problems and needs? How do these matters bear on us as Christian readers today?
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