Pastoral Commentary for 1 Samuel 7:2-8:22
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
After this lengthy period of oppression by the Philistines, Samuel called Israel to repentance, exhorting them to put away their idols and serve the LORD. He called for an assembly of the people at Mizpah where he would pray for Israel. The Philistines saw this gathering as an opportunity for one more victory over Israel and determined to attack them. While Samuel prayed and offered a sacrifice, God thundered against the Philistines, sending them into a panic, and routing Israel's enemy. As a reminder of God's help, Samuel set up a stone called "Ebenezer," meaning "stone of help," and reminded Israel, "Till now the LORD has helped us." Samuel became a forerunner of the "circuit rider" preachers, traveling throughout the land speaking the word of the LORD and judging the people. In his old age, Samuel appointed his sons to judge Israel after him, but his sons accepted bribes and perverted justice, so the elders of Israel asked Samuel to appoint a king to rule them. Samuel prayed to the LORD. God reminded him that Israel had not rejected Samuel, but instead had rejected their true King, the LORD. God told Samuel to listen to them, but also to warn them solemnly about what a king would do to them. Samuel explained to Israel the hardships that having a king would bring upon them. He also warned them that when they cried out to God because of their misery He would not listen. Nevertheless, Israel refused to listen to Samuel and cried out: "No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations." God told Samuel to "Obey their voice and make them a king." When our heart's desire is to be like the people of this world, we have forsaken the LORD. That why John said, "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15).