New Defender's Study Bible Notes
8:1 his sons judges. Since Samuel was a judge in Israel as long as he lived (I Samuel 7:15), here is a specific case when there were contemporaneous judges in Israel; Samuel had a circuit, but his main “court” was in Ramah (I Samuel 7:17). His two sons served as judges in Beersheba, about fifty miles south of Ramah. This fact gives a clue as to why the chronology of the Judges period is so difficult to work out (over seventy-five different chronologies have been published). It is possible that at least some of the periods of rest and oppression listed in the book refer to simultaneous periods in different regions.
8:2 judges in Beer-sheba. Samuel was a “circuit-riding” judge, with his main “court” at Ramah, and the load apparently became so heavy that he assigned his sons to do his job at Beer-sheba, which was at the southern extremity of Israel. This proved a mistake; he should have waited for God to raise up any judge that was needed.
8:7 rejected me. It was actually God’s will for His people to have a king, for eventually Messiah would be their king (note Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17). He had, through Moses, instructed them in how a future king should rule and how he should be chosen (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). However, their motives in desiring a king at this time were altogether wrong (I Samuel 8:19,20).
8:7 reign over them. It was not that the people really needed a king to “judge us, and go out before us, and fight out battles” (I Samuel 8:20). God Himself had been their king, and had gone before them and fought their battles, whenever they were faithful to Him. But they deliberately rejected this theocratic kingdom, and the judges that God had raised up (such as Samuel), in order that they “may be like all the nations” (I Samuel 8:20). As a result of their complaining instead of being grateful and obeying, God “gave them their request; but sent leanness into their souls” (Psalm 106:15), just as He had done in the wilderness when they complained about their food.