vv 2-3. Joel and Abijah, his oldest sons, held court in Beersheba. But they were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice.
We met events like this in our earlier readings when we reflected on the fact that Eli’s sons didn’t follow in their father’s footsteps. It is heart-breaking for a father to see his son’s going off the rails, but it is a strong reminder that faith and obedience to God does not run in the family genes. Children have to take personal steps of obedience and faith if they are to follow the faith of their fathers. Parents have a distinct responsibility to both teach and model their faith so that their children see it and understand what it is about. The decision to follow or reject faith in Jesus is the personal responsibility of each child. Parents can only pray and encourage them.
With his two eldest sons unwilling to administer proper justice, Samuel finds himself confronted with a totally new situation. The leaders of the people press for a new ruler, a King, ‘Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.‘ (v 5). Their eyes were fixed on a King-Warrior, a powerful person who would lead socially and also in battle for them. (v 20) That was the norm as far as they were concerned.
Samuel saw this as an affront to God as well as to himself. He believed God was the proper leader, and all other leaders were themselves led by God. Hence his going back to God, almost in despair I sense. The scene is now set for the appointment of Israel’s first King, with Samuel as the King-Maker.