5.10 1 Samuel -- Samuel's Farewell
Samuel gave a final address to Israel: his task was over. Samuel was not about to die, he was just going into retirement as the political leader of Israel. But he retained the post of chief priest and prophet, as we will see in chapter 13. At this time, he passed the mantle of authority to the king whom the people demanded. He vowed that he had treated no man unfairly. Then he reviewed the history of God's deliverance of His people and warned them to be faithful in the future. But he could not resist a final jab at the incoming administration:
"you will realize what an evil thing you did in the eyes of the Lord when you asked for a king" (1 Sam 12:17).
The Lord sent thunder and rain as a witness against the people, and they trembled in fear. However, this was a great improvement over the Exodus, when the disobedience of the multitudes brought pestilence or serpents.
Still, from the standpoint of political theory, it must be emphasized that God did not endorse the transition to a monarchical form of government based on a model derived from pagan nations. Yet was this change not inevitable? An agrarian society with no central administration could deal with petty raids of rival tribes in an ad hoc manner. But just over the horizon, time-wise, were the rise and invasion of the great empires: Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece. Could judges and citizen-soldiers withstand the ranks of professional soldiers and their "modern" weaponry? What was God's answer to these threats? We will never know. But it could not have been worse than the future kings of Israel.