Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel…But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice. Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day–with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods–so they are doing to you also. Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.” 1 Samuel 8:1, 3-9
Many bible scholars make the point that because Samuel had become a circuit preacher of sorts, he had neglected his children which resulted in their turning from the Lord and succumbing to sin. We can read the passage and come away with that application, but I would not be dogmatic about whether or not Samuel was guilty of child neglect. One thing we can be certain about is that Samuel was likely broken hearted about his son’s spiritual condition.
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 3 John 1:4
The fact of the matter is that Samuel’s mentor Eli suffered the same thing—and he was a stay at home dad! His two sons, Hophni and Phinehas were similarly rotten, although their sin of choice was not greed (like Samuel’s boys) but covetousness towards women and food. Fact is the entire nation of Israel had succumb to perversity to the point where they favored a man’s leadership over God’s—a man who would be sympathetic to their fleshly cause.
…For the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:20
Samuel’s boys had gone astray and all of Israel was aware of it; Samuel’s old and everyone was talking about it. Israel had essentially told Samuel, “You and your boys are washed up and we want nothing to do with you. Now go find us a real leader!” Ouch. Old Sammy was angry, but he was also astute and we can glean from his wisdom—before his anger could morph into sin, he went to the Lord in prayer and in so doing God lets him in on a couple secrets.
“Sam, it’s not about you; it’s all about Me.”
Don’t we all need to be reminded of that regularly? God disclosed to Samuel that Israel had become perverse once again and in reality could not care less about him or his boys—they were nothing more that an excuse to plead their case. Israel did not want to be submissive to God, but to a man who might justify and allow their illicit behaviors. God effectively says “Warn them and then give them what they want.” Looking back at this event, the Lord through His prophet Hosea gives us some wonderful insight regarding this incident.
“O Israel, you are destroyed, But your help is from Me. I will be your King; Where is any other, That he may save you in all your cities? And your judges to whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’? I gave you a king in My anger, And took him away in My wrath. Hosea 13:9-11
Be Careful What You Ask For…
Because you just might get it! God demonstrated then and He still demonstrates today that in His anger He just might give us what we are asking for. It is for this reason we need to always seek God’s will (like Samuel) and pray accordingly. Israel’s first mistake was that they knew God’s will and ignored it. Their second mistake was believing that because they got what they wanted, God was with them. In time, they would learn the error of their ways. However, between the time they received their king and realized their blunder, they were positioned to mislead other believers. Every person who teaches a false prosperity doctrine today is perpetrating the same lie. Let us not make the same mistake.