Take some time to see how everyone is doing, and to pray for each other.

READ: 1 Samuel 2:1-10

According to Hannah’s prayer, how far does the LORD’s authority extend?

What kinds of people in Hannah’s prayer does the LORD support? (Who receives his help?)

Keep this in mind as we read on!

READ: 1 Samuel 2:12-17 - Eli’s wicked sons

What is wrong with Eli’s sons? From the author’s description, what make them wicked?
(2:12, no regard for the LORD; 2:17, treated the LORD’s offering with contempt)

This wickedness doesn’t go unpunished. Do you remember what happens to Eli’s sons?
(1 Sam 2:34; 3:13-14)

God brings up Samuel as a replacement for Eli and his sons. Think about everything you know about Samuel so far -- how would you describe him in one word?

READ 1 Samuel 8:1-22

What about Samuel’s sons? What kind of people did they turn out to be? (8:3)

Do you find it surprising that faithful Samuel would have bad sons? How do you feel?

Sad. //  That’s just life, man.  //  I’m shocked and appalled!  //  Family dinners must be awkward...

What kind of future would you have imagined for Samuel’s family vs. Eli’s family?

Why do you think the author includes details that could affect our opinion of Samuel?
What do you think the author is trying to tell us?

At the end of Hannah’s prayer, she mentions a “king” (2:10). This old system of judges and priest-rulers has to step aside to make way for the king. But something isn’t right.

Can you detect what’s wrong with Israel’s request?
(8:5, “Appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have…”)

What does God himself say about their request for a king? What’s at stake in his view? (8:7-8)
(They’re rejecting God as their king!)

Take a quick look at Exodus 19:4-6 -- What does God actually want for Israel?

What do you think of the phrases God uses there? (treasured possession, kingdom of priests)
How would you describe the kind of relationship God seems to want with Israel?

God vs. a human king

Have you ever been so afraid or freaked out that you felt like your brain was frozen and you didn’t know what to do? (What happened? Who has helped you in situations like that?)

If Israel is afraid, why might they prefer to have a human king instead of God as their king?
What comfort could a human king offer that they feel they can’t get from God?
(e.g., touch him, see him, hear him, punch him in the nose, watch him ride into battle...)

Think about Samuel’s description of a king (8:11-18) vs. Hannah’s description of the LORD (2:1-10). How do they differ?

What does Hannah’s prayer have to say about this type of king?
(What happens to the strong, the warriors, the armed, the proud?)

Compare 1 Samuel 8:20 with Exodus 14:14 and Deuteronomy 31:8.
What place does Israel leave for God in their request for a king?

The God Who Never Leaves

Imagine yourself in God’s shoes: You worked hard to save a group of people from slavery. You set them up in a land full of everything they needed. You promised them more prosperity than they could imagine. All you asked was for them to keep connected to you, to listen to your advice so they could grow into a nation that would amaze the world.
But they got so focused on themselves that they forgot what you did for them. They liked their neighbours’ gods because they could carve them and hold them in their hands. They wanted a king they could touch, someone who came from one of their own families. They thumbed their noses at you and said, “We know better than you do. Get out.”

How would you respond? What would you do with a people like that?

God stuck with them -- and even more than that, he used their own failed faith to bring the day closer when he would become Israel’s true king forever: They wanted a king, so he gave them Saul. Saul failed, so he anointed David. And through the line of David, God himself was born into his own people. And rising to life again after his death on the cross, God the Son became the eternal king who will never grow old as Samuel did.

If God transformed Israel’s failure like this, how might he be at work in yours?