Friday, April 08, 2005

1 Samuel 8

In this chapter, we have a reprise of Eli and his corrupt sons, Hophni and Phinehas. Samuel's sons Joel and Abijah, too, turn out to be rotten and unworthy of their appointments to judge Israel. Not quite as bad as Eli's sons, they simply take bribes. There seems to be no blot on Samuel's record to justify this. The problem may be that he sent them to Beersheba, far from the heights of Ramah and much too close to the pagan lowlands of Gaza.

At any rate, the consequence is that the people demand Samuel appoint a king. Why they should turn to him when his previous appointments have been such a failure is a mystery. God tells Samuel that the demand for a king represents a turning away from God, and indeed in 1 Sam. 12:18, Samuel explicitly calls the desire for a king "an evil thing." (elsewhere, though, the appointment of a king is lauded). And Samuel gives them excellent advice about the connection between kings and militarism and luxurious excess. The king will take sons for war and daughters for his comfort. Servants will be used for his own comfort and herd animals for his own meals. The people will be made slaves.

Worst, when the people cry out to God for relief, He will not hear them, because they have chosen slavery.

A parable for our time.


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