Be Careful What You Ask For
1 Samuel 8:1-5
(1) And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.
(2) Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba.
(3) And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.
(4) Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
(5) And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
Eli had been derelict in the training of his sons. They "...made themselves vile, and he restrained them not" (1SAM 3:13) but no such thing was said about Samuel. That children without godly parental discipline and restraints should become corrupt is a virtual given. But it is a very sad case when children of a godly upbringing turn sour, for the hopeful expectation is that when a child is trained up in the way in which he should go, he will not later depart from it (PRO 22:6). But the Law recognized the potential for a rebellious dropout who, even though chastened appropriately, would not hearken (DEU 21:18). Such may have been the case with Samuel's sons. Samuel had been faithful (a fact the nation in general had to concede, 1SAM 12:1-5) but his sons "...walked not in his ways" (v.3). No, they walked all over his ways and did so for filthy lucre's sake, proving that the love of money certainly is the root of all evil (1TI 6:10). A devout generation may sadly spawn one which "...knew not the LORD..." (JUDGES 2:10). It behooves parents, therefore, to diligently train their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord with much prayer, fear and trembling and then entrust the outcome to God. At the very least, such a parent can say in effect, "...I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God" (ACT 20:26-27). Israel's elders capitalized on Samuel's sons corrupt judgment to make a play for a "...king to judge us like all the nations" (v.5) and in so doing made it clear that they were tired of the way God had reigned over them (1SAM 8:7). It may be observed that abuses of power or corruption in rule and judgment do tend to incite rebellion and many national leaders, parents or businesses have thus felt the backlash of their own whip. However, as it apparently was with Samuel, even the best of leadership can meet with rejection. There are those who "...make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate..." (ISA 29:21), using trivial or even fabricated discrepancies as a pretext for rejecting just leadership. For such, a gross injustice is not needed for them to refuse "...the waters of Shiloh that go softly..." (ISA 8:6), a mere faux pas will do. And for the carnal-minded, it may simply be a matter of "...the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears" (2TI 4:3). And God may well hearken to their wish, under protest, as He did here for Israel (1SAM 8:9) but later hearken not to their anguished rue (1SAM 8:18). Woe unto the nation built upon Biblical principles that abandons its birthright for a mess of humanist pottage! Woe unto the child of godly parents who thinks that uninhibited lifestyles are better than home! Woe unto the church that rejects its Bible-preaching pastor for an ear-scratching pussycat.