1 Samuel 8:1-5 – Samuel as Father


1 Samuel 8:1-5


Samuel fares little better at parenting than Eli, the corrupt priest he replaced.


As a sad irony, and foretaste of much of the rest of 1 Samuel – 2 Kings, the righteous Samuel had wicked sons. Joel and Abijah shamed their father and themselves by taking bribes and perverting justice after their father installed them as judges in his place. The text does not describe their [mal]formation, but interpreters may be forgiven for wondering if the preceding paragraph describing Samuel’s travels indicated that Samuel perhaps spent too much time on the judging circuit around Israel (1 Samuel 7:15-17), and not enough time with his family. Indeed, if Samuel judged Israel “all the days of his life” and even while he was at home in Ramah, “he judged Israel there [too]” Samuel may be described as a sort of workaholic father, not unlike the scriptural picture of Moses with his two neglected sons (Exodus 18). 

The wickedness of Samuel’s sons, and their refusal to govern justly, was the proximate cause, in this text, of Israel asking for a king.