The Rejection of Samuel
October 30th, 1960 @ 8:15 AM
1 Samuel 8:1-6
THE REJECTION OF SAMUEL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Samuel 8:1-6
10-30-60 8:15 a.m.
Now in your Bible, would you turn with me to chapter 8 of 1 Samuel? Chapter 8 of 1 Samuel: for a long time now at the 8:15 o’clock service, we have been preaching through the Old Testament. We started at the first verse in the first chapter of Genesis, and following these great biblical characters, we are now in the life of Samuel, looking at this man of God, and have come this morning’s hour to chapter 8. The title of the sermon is The Rejection of Samuel, or “The Change of Government.” And this is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas delivering the message, 1 Samuel 8, verse 1:
And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel.
Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba.
And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside—from those holy ways of Samuel—after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.
Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
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.
But the thing hurt Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.
[1 Samuel 8:1-6].
You have just read and have just heard one of the saddest instances of the ingratitude of a nation and of a people that you’ll ever find in literature. Samuel was God’s truly great, blessed man. He was faithful in all of his ways. And Samuel had become the second father of the nation. It was due to Samuel’s ministry and his praying and his devotion that Israel had been delivered out of the hands of Philistia. It was due to the intercession of Samuel that God would move to intervene in behalf of the nation.
He had not sought authority or power; Samuel was God’s humble servant, who waited upon the will and work of the Lord. When Eli died and when his house was slain in war by the Philistines, Samuel did not force himself into authority. Samuel rather waited upon the Lord, and for twenty years he was content to be an itinerant teacher, taking God’s Book in his hands, the law of Moses, and teaching the people the good knowledge of the Lord [2 Chronicles 30:22; 1 Samuel 7:15-17]. And for twenty years, he was very happy, very content, to dwell in oblivion. He was of all men most unostentatious, without personal ambition, just loving God and loving the people. All of his life, he had sat in their presence, the little child who ministered unto the Lord before Eli in the tabernacle at Shiloh [1 Samuel 3:1-18], and even in those early days, God anointed him to be a prophet and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be the very oracle of heaven [1 Samuel 3:19-20].
Now after these years of ministry and after these years of faithful and devoted and loving service, he is now in the very prime of his life. “What makes you think that, pastor, when it says that it came to pass ‘when Samuel was old?’” [1 Samuel 8:1]. I know that for two reasons: one, years after this, it is Samuel alone who fearlessly brings to task King Saul for his disobedience to the commandments of the Lord [1 Samuel 13:13-14]. And I know it, second, because years after this, it was Samuel who took the sword and hewed Agag, the king of Amalekites, into pieces [1 Samuel 15:33]. It was years after this that Samuel chose David, the young man after God’s own heart [1 Samuel 13:14] to be king over God’s people, Israel [1 Samuel 16:13]. “It came to pass when Samuel was old” [1 Samuel 8:1], he was not at the most more than sixty years of age when this passage speaks of the age of Samuel. At one hundred twenty years, at twice this age, Moses was strong in the work of the Lord—his eye undimmed and his natural strength unabated [Deuteronomy 24:7]. So it was with Samuel. Then why is it that they come and say these things to the man of God? [1 Samuel 8:1]. For the simple reason that they were tired of waiting upon Jehovah, and they were weary of God’s prophet, and they wanted to be like the heathen nations all around them [1 Samuel 8:5, 19-20].
Do you know any Baptist people like that? Do you know any of God’s people like that? We’re tired of those old-time songs in our church, and we’re weary of these services for the teaching of God. We like things of the world. So they turn aside from the house of the Lord, and from the service and ministry of Christ. And you’ll find them in every kind of a worldly place that mind can imagine and that worldly lust could describe.
So they used these things for a pretext. They’re anxious to get rid of Samuel, they’re anxious to turn aside from the prophet of God. They are weary of the service of the Lord, and they are panting after, and hungering after, and lusting after the ways of the flesh and the tinsel and tinfoil of the world.
They used a second pretext, and I want you to look at how, how they will strain after a thing in order to make their cause. The second pretext they use to get rid of Samuel is his boys are not like him [1 Samuel 8:5]. Now the name of his firstborn was Joel, Joel means “Jehovah is God.” And the name of his second born was Abiah, “Jehovah is our Father [1 Samuel 8:2]. Shows you how marvelously devout Samuel was in his home life. Those two boys: one he named “Jehovah is God,” Joel, Yoel; and the other one, Abiah is God, Yah is our Abba, Father.” Now when Samuel began to give administrative responsibilities to those boys, he was wise in doing it. They were young fellows and inexperienced, so what Samuel did, he took his two boys down to Beersheba. Have any of you ever been to Beersheba? It’s at the bottom part of the desert of the Negev, way down there in the South, nobody around, very, very few people there, mostly and sparsely uninhabited. There did he take those two boys, and he put them down there in that out of the way place in order that they might begin to learn to be responsible to God for these things of oversight and judgeship.
Well, those fellows were young, and they didn’t do very good. What they might have done, I do not know, but when they first started out, they weren’t like their father, and they took bribes [1 Samuel 8:3]. That’s the first time you think that a man ever took a bribe? I don’t know of a commoner thing in the life and destiny of people everywhere than that. Our legislators, our congressmen, our senators, our judges, our magistrates, from one end of the land to the other—in the Roman Empire, in the Assyrian Empire, in the Greek Empire, in these modern nations—that is about as common a sin as you could ever discover: a man to receive something for a favor. Now, it may be a deep freeze, or it may be a mink coat, or it may be a preferred contract given by the navy to the firm of a man, or from the army or from someplace—but always, men doing things for favors. Well, these boys did that and they’re culpable, of course. It’s a thing of moral turpitude, but it had nothing whatsoever to do with the integrity and the virility and the moral stature of this great man of God himself, Samuel.
So these men come, and now look in verse , “Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together” [1 Samuel 8:4]. Isn’t that a sight? Did you ever in your life see men so solicitous for the welfare of neighbors they’ve never even seen, way down there in a little small town by itself? Yet from Dan, all through Galilee, all through Perea, all through Samaria, all through Judah and Benjamin, Reuben and Simeon, Gad and Manasseh, Issachar, Zebulun, Naphtali, all the elders from all over Israel come together and say, “We are so heartbroken over what your boys are doing there in Beersheba that we no longer want you to be the prophet of God to judge us. We want a king! [1 Samuel 8:5]. Look at those heathen Amalekites, they have a king. Look at those heathen Canaanites, they have a king. Look at those heathen Phoenicians, they have a king. And look at all of those Moabites. Look at all of those Syrians and Assyrians, they have kings. And look at Philistia. We want a king, to be like our heathen neighbors. Whatever they do, we want to do. How they live is the way we want to live, and how they act is the way we want to act, and the kind of a thing they’re doing is the kind of a thing we want to do. We’re tired of you, Samuel, and we want to change you for a king” [1 Samuel 8:19-20].
Now, that’s why the Scriptures say that when they came to Samuel and said that, it cut him to his soul [1 Kings 8:6]. It nearly hurt him to the depths of his being. And what did this man of God do when the people said, “Give us a king to judge us?” Samuel made it a matter of prayer [1 Samuel 8:6]. Now, isn’t that typical of God’s man? How many times in this book will you read that Samuel made it a matter of prayer? In this seventh chapter, he gathered all Israel together to Mizpeh, and there he prayed for them [1 Samuel 7:5]. When I turn the page over here to the twelfth chapter and the nineteenth verse, when the people said in their great agony, “Pray for thy servants” [1 Samuel 12:19], Samuel said, “God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you” [1 Samuel 12:23]. And again, in the fifteenth chapter, later on in the after years, when God rejected Saul, over here in verse 11, it hurt Samuel, it grieved Samuel, and he cried unto the Lord all night [1 Samuel 15:10-11].
I’d like to have seen Samuel, wouldn’t you? “And he cried unto the Lord all night.” It never—it wasn’t anything to Samuel, the rejection of Saul, nothing, nothing to him or to his house. It just hurt his heart, he just felt it in his soul, and he cried unto the Lord all night. So with this, when they came to him and said, “Samuel, we are weary of you, and we want a king in order that we might be like all of our heathen neighbors,” he took it to the Lord and prayed unto the Lord [1 Samuel 8:4-6]. And the Lord said unto Samuel—now, we do not have Samuel’s prayer—we have to imagine that. But we have what God says to him, and God says three things. First, He says, “Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them” [1 Samuel 8:7]. “They do not want Me,” said the Lord God. “They want to be like the heathens. They do not want to be a peculiar people, they do not want to be called funny or odd or strange. But when the piper pipes, they want to dance. And when the flute player is fluting, they want to whistle, and when all of the world beckons, they want to come with the rushing of the wind. But when I call, they want to stop their ears, and they want to do the opposite thing to what I have made appeal.”
“Hearken to them, Samuel. They have not rejected thee, they have rejected Me” [1 Samuel 8:7]. That’s the first thing God says. He allayed Samuel’s heart: “Do not be heartbroken over this, Samuel. And do not take this personally, as though it were of you. It is of Me; they do not want Me to reign over them” [1 Samuel 8:7]. Then He says—and by the way, before I leave, may I point out to you, the first time that I know that this voice, that this word, the voice of the people, vox populi—the first time I know that expression is used, is used by the Lord God Himself there in 1 Samuel 8:7: vox populi, est vox dei, the voice of the people is the voice of God. I do not, I do not know of anything that is wronger than that and more untrue than that. And they, with instant voice clamored, all of the people and all the chief priests, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” [Mark 15:11-13; Luke 23:21]. Vox populi est vox dei, “the voice of the people is the voice of God.”
I remember over here in Psalm  and verse 15: “And He gave them their request; but sent leanness into their souls” [Psalm 106:15]. That was when they were in the wilderness and saying, “We are tired of this manna” [Numbers 11:4-6]. Isn’t that like God’s children? “We are weary of this manna.” We don’t like these services, going to church all the time. And we don’t like these songs, singing these songs all the time, and we don’t like God’s work, doing God’s work all the time. “We are weary of this manna, and we want something else to eat,” and God gave them their request, but sent leanness into their souls [Psalm 106:15]. Vox populi, est vox dei, “the voice of the people is the voice of God”; it is the opposite. It is the opposite!
“Listen,” says the Lord God to Samuel, “Listen unto the voice of the people.” And then He said, “Samuel, do not be hurt. It is Me they have rejected. It is I they have rejected” [1 Samuel 8:7]. And then the second thing He says, “It is because they want to be like these other people. They want to serve these other gods” [1 Samuel 8:8]. And then He says, “Now, Samuel, one other thing, protest solemnly unto them and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them” [1 Samuel 8:9]. And after God had spoken those three things to Samuel, then you have—in verse 10 through verse 18—you have what Samuel says to them in obedience to that command of God, to talk to the people about what they’re doing [1 Samuel 8:10-18].
I want you to look in that passage, 1 Samuel 8:10-18. Six times in seven verses does Samuel say about that king: “He will take. He will take.” Look at verse 11: “He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself” [1 Samuel 8:11]. Look in verse 13: “He will take your daughters” [1 Samuel 8:13]. Look at verse 14: “And he will take your fields” [1 Samuel 8:14]. And look at verse : “And he will take the tenth of your seed” [1 Samuel 8:15]. And look at verse 16: “And he will take your menservants and your maidservants” [1 Samuel 8:16]. And look at verse 17: “And he will take the tenth of your sheep” [1 Samuel 8:17]. There’s only one time that it says in that whole passage that he will give, and that’s in verse 15. And there he says, “He will take all of these from you, and he will give to his officers, and to his servants” [1 Samuel 8:15]. That’s what the world does, and that’s what the devil does. And that’s what Satan does when we go lusting, and hankering, and panting after him; he will take the beauty of your youth and the beauty of your manhood and womanhood. And he will take the strength of your life, and he will take all that you have and all you possess, and he will devote it to himself. And he will give you nothing in return. After he has sucked you dry, after he has eaten your heart out, he will throw you away like a banana peeling. He’ll cast you off like a rind. That’s the reward that Satan has for those who pant after him. That’s what Samuel says here to the people of God: “You turn aside from serving the Lord, and you pant after the likeness and similitude of the heathen nations around you, and they will take and they will take and they will take, and they will give nothing in return” [1 Samuel 8:10-18].
I want you to notice another thing here in this text: “He will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards” [1 Samuel 8:15]. And in verse 17: “He will take the tenth of your sheep” [1 Samuel 8:17]. I cannot help some of the things that I see in the Book, and I cannot help some of the persuasions in my life, and this is one of them. In my humble opinion, after reading God’s Word and after being a pastor for thirty-two years, I cannot help but be persuaded that there’s not anything in ministering to people that the church cannot do better than any other agency or any other government that mankind can form. The best orphan’s home in the world that you can run is an orphan’s home that is run by the people of God, by the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. The best ameliorating program, the best program of help and sustenance, the best program of appeal, the best program of nurture and of care is the program that is run by the church. The best school is the school that is run by the church. The best ameliorating societies, whether they minister to children or to old people or to the sick or to the, those that need educating, the best programs in the world are those that are ministered by the church.
Well then, why doesn’t the church do it? Simply because we are taken from us into other avenues and into other organizations, and the church finds itself almost helpless before the illimitable needs of the world before it. I cannot help but believe that the more and the more and the more that we become dependent upon the federal government for assistance in all of these things, the less and less will God’s favor be upon His people. If our people would take the tenth of their seed, and a tenth of their vineyard, and a tenth of their sheep, and the tenth of all their increase and bring it and devote it to God, I do believe that we could take care of the needs of the people better than any organization in this earth. But the church finds itself weak and helpless because our people take away from God and God’s work. Therefore, by law and by commandment and by excessive taxation, our people are taken away from and taken away from and taken away from. And I am afraid that we have just begun to see the oppressiveness of that heavy, heavy taxation and that awful, awful fiscal deficit and debt. See, all of these things are in God’s Book. All of these things are in God’s Word, if we just look at them, and pray over them, and see God’s will for our lives.
Now, my time is passed. May I hastily close the message? Nevertheless—look here: “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, ‘Nay, but we will have a king over us’” [1 Samuel 8:19]. No matter what God says, and no matter what God’s Word says, and no matter what the prophet of God says, we are determined that we shall have a king over us. We want to be like other nations, and we want our king to go before us and to fight our battles for us’” [1 Samuel 9:20]. Isn’t that like the modern American life? We want to give all of these responsibilities to somebody else. Isn’t that like modern American life? We want him to do it for us.
So for the third time, the Lord said to Samuel, “Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king,” and Samuel meekly acquiesced. And he said, “Go every man unto his city” [1 Samuel 9:22], and they returned every man to his city. And Israel began that long and sorrowful story of the kingdom in the bloodshed, and the oppression, and the misery that finally and ultimately destroyed the nation, like it finally and ultimately destroys us. Our hope for life as a people lies in the will of God, in harkening to the voice of the prophet of the Lord, in heeding the word of the living God. Ah! That we might read, that we might listen, and that we might profit, and that the Lord would grant life to us in our day, and life to these children of ours who are growing up to assume the responsibilities of this nation, and of this church, and of these ministries after we are gone.
Now, we’re going to sing our song of invitation. And while we sing that appeal, somebody you give his heart to the Lord. Somebody you put his life in the fellowship of our church. As we make this appeal, as we sing this song, would you come and stand by me? In this throng in the balcony, in this host on the lower floor, somebody this morning, trusting Jesus as Savior; somebody putting his life with us in the church, a family coming, or just one somebody you, while we make this appeal, while we sing this song, on the first note of the first stanza, would you come and give the pastor your hand, giving your heart to God, or your life with us in the fellowship of the church? While we stand and while we sing.
THE REJECTION OF SAMUEL
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Samuel 8:1-6
His prayers led God to deliver Israel from the Philistines
God’s humble servant
Israel is weary of Samuel and wants a king
Samuel’s sons took bribes, Israel rejects Samuel as judge
Goes to God in confession and prayer
God tells Samuel that Israel has not rejected Samuel but rejected God
Samuel’s warning to Israel about a new king
Israel ignores the warnings and demands a king anyway