Israel Requests a King
1As Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons to be judges over Israel. 2Joel and Abijah, his oldest sons, held court in Beersheba. 3But they were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice.
4Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. 5“Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.”
6Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. 7“Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for they are rejecting me, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. 8Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. 9Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.”
Samuel Warns against a Kingdom
10So Samuel passed on the Lord’s warning to the people who were asking him for a king. 11“This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. 12Some will be generals and captains in his army,*8:12 Hebrew commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties. some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. 13The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. 14He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. 15He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. 16He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle*8:16 As in Greek version; Hebrew reads young men. and donkeys for his own use. 17He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. 18When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”
19But the people refused to listen to Samuel’s warning. “Even so, we still want a king,” they said. 20“We want to be like the nations around us. Our king will judge us and lead us into battle.”
21So Samuel repeated to the Lord what the people had said, 22and the Lord replied, “Do as they say, and give them a king.” Then Samuel agreed and sent the people home.