The Israelite Monarchy

Samuel Addressing the Israelites’ Request for a KingDemonstrate that the establishment of the monarchy was in keeping with God’s place. In light of this, wherein lay Israel’s sin in requesting a king?

Despite the common notion that the ancient Israelite monarchy was outside the will of God because the people were rejecting their divine king Yahweh by requesting a human king, the establishment of the Jewish monarchy as recorded in the Old Testament was in keeping with God’s eternal plan for his chosen people. This mistaken notion can only be derived from an atomistic reading of 1 Samuel 8. In this passage the elders of Israel approach their aging leader Samuel and ask for a king “to judge us like all the nations” (v. 5). The request displeased Samuel, who interpreted it as a personal rejection of his righteous rule as Israel’s judge. However the Lord made it clear that the people were rejecting God, not Samuel, as evidenced by their continual forsaking of the God who rescued them from Egypt and instead worshipping other gods. The Lord instructed Samuel to forewarn the elders and “show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them” (v. 9). Nevertheless, they refused the words of Samuel and reiterated their desire for a king like the nations to judge them and lead them into battle (vv. 19-20). From this passage it is sometimes asserted that the request of a king was wrong because Yahweh is the true and only king of Israel, and that God eventually gave to the people what they requested to show the evils inherent in a human royal figure.

(Continue reading here.)

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