If Samuel's sons were leading unjustly, why was it wrong for the Israelites to ask for a king to replace them?
1 Samuel 8:1 - 8
NKJV - 1 Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba.
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To my knowledge, the judges prior to Samuel had all been raised up by God for a specific purpose or period of time, which ended (at the latest) when the judge died. There was no hereditary succession, as would normally be the custom with kings. The judge was raised up by God Himself, which gave him authority in the eyes of the people. Also, it meant that the people (in a sense) were still being led by God, working through the judge. (Thus, the idea that Samuel's sons would succeed him as judges was itself a departure from past practice, which may have contributed to their corrupt practices, out of a sense of "entitlement".) Samuel should have just remained a judge until his death, and then left it to God as to when the next judge would be needed. And the people should have remained content with that arrangement. Under a king, however, the situation would be worse. The succession would be determined by bloodlines (although God participated directly in the selection of both Saul and David at the start of the monarchy). Thus, there would not be the same assurance that the king had God's approval to rule, or that he would lead the people in a manner that was pleasing to God. That was why God told Samuel that, in calling for a king, the people were not rejecting Samuel, but were actually rejecting God as their ruler over them (1 Samuel 8:7). And over time (although there were notable occasional exceptions), the general trend of the kings who ruled Israel was downward, starting with the division of Israel and Judah (as a judgment against the idolatry of Solomon in his later years), to the point where Israel and Judah became so sinful that God sent them both into exile, with the ten tribes of Israel even losing their identity as a distinct people or nation. This might not have happened had the people been willing to accept God's continued leadership through the judges. (Samuel had even warned the people of Israel about all the negative consequences that would result from the establishment of a king (1 Samuel 8:10-18), but the people still demanded a king anyway, so that they could be like all the other nations, rather than valuing their extraordinary status in being led by God Himself.)
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