In 1st Samuel 8 when Samuel was about to appoint his sons Judges over Israel, it says the Elders of Israel gathered together to speak to Samuel, saying, behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. v5.
When Samuel was displeased because they asked for a king to judge them, Samuel prayed and the Lord told him the people have not rejected you, but they have rejected me that I should not reign over them. The choice of the people to ask for a king was primarily and foremostly, a rejection of God. These were people had grown to like the Nations and wanted to pattern themselves after the Nations that were not God fearing. And it’s not far fetched to say we can see an equivalent of this today where everyone is looking to the Nations and culture and materialism and desiring that over the rule of God in their life.
But I have to say as I read God’s record here there is another rejection that is obvious. The people rejected Samuel. The people rejected his choice for their leadership. And not only this, but his own sons had rejected him. It says, his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. In a true sense Samuel was rejected by his own sons.
The words of God to Samuel that they did not reject him but Me, would definitely soften the blow that he himself was rejected. But God always wants to put the emphasis where it truly is that ultimately the people were rejecting His rule over them. God is always going to place the emphasis where it truly deserves to be that ultimately the people were rejecting His sovereign rule over their lives by faith. And so these words by God that they have not rejected you, Samuel, were to soften the blow so as not to discount all of the good he had done for God by faith. But there is little doubt that Samuel was rejected by his sons and his choice was rejected by the elders and the people of the land. Samuel wanted to go one way, put his sons in positions as judges, not the wisest thing Samuel could have done, but the people wanted to go another way. This was a stinging rejection of Samuel’s choice to make his sons judges. Samuel was definitely a man of faith, but he was a man who had failings.
When God said to Samuel they’re not rejecting you but they are rejecting me, God was not saying that he approved of Samuel’s two sons to be judges over His people. God could very well have said it is not only these people who have rejected me, Samuel, but your own sons have rejected me too. That fact is obvious. As I read it it seems as though God does not want to pile on to Samuel. God does not want to dismiss the whole life and service and Faith of Samuel for failing in one part of his life.
Not all of us who are sons and people of God remember to draw near to God and to appreciate his rule over our lives. We must not look to the world and to the strange religions and the materialistic pleasures that make us reject God’s rule over our lives. Instead let us stay faithful to God and stay faithful to his word and keep a right spirit. I say this in love. – Dan Mayfield