Samuel the Judge

In chapter 7 we see Samuel come into his own. Here he is established as a judge in Israel and immediately goes about calling the people to repentance, the putting away of idols, and trust in the Lord.

Samuel does something in verse 12 that we have seen a number of times in the history of Israel. He sets up an “Ebenezer”. That is, he creates a monument, called “stone of help” (the literal meaning of Ebenezer) that will remind the people of how the Lord worked in space and time history to rescue them.

Israel Demands a King

In chapter 8, when Israel asks for a king we see a small phrase that appears a number of times. Israel wanted a king to rule over them and fight their battles “like all the nations.” Look at the history of Israel up until now. Who brought the plagues upon Egypt? Who parted the Red Sea? Who sent manna and quail in the wilderness? Who brought down the walls of Jericho? Who scattered armies and handed the people cities that they did not build? The ruler of Israel, and the one who has fought their battles, is the Lord. God has given them prophets and judges and other leaders who serve to mediate between God and man. Truly, Israel needs a king, but they do not need to be like all the nations. The whole point of God’s creating and calling Israel was to show the nations that the Lord is their King and Redeemer. We remember again, that the heart of the covenant promise is that God is fashioning a people for Himself.

The people have rejected the Lord, forsaking Him and serving other gods. And so, these people have become fit for a king. They have rejected the Lord as King (1 Samuel 8:7) and are given a lesser, human king. This king will bring them under his rule, but he will not bring them to the Lord.