1 Samuel 8:11

ESV He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots.
NIV He said, 'This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots.
NASB And he said, 'This will be the practice of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and put them in his chariots for himself and among his horsemen, and they will run before his chariots.
CSB He said, "These are the rights of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and put them to his use in his chariots, on his horses, or running in front of his chariots.
NLT This is how a king will reign over you,' Samuel said. 'The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots.
KJV And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.

What does 1 Samuel 8:11 mean?

The Lord has told Samuel to allow the people to have a human king (1 Samuel 8:4–5) with one stipulation. Samuel must give them a formal warning—a legal disclaimer—about how kings will carry out their rule. The ways of the king, and the legal rights he will have, amount to what it will cost the people to live under his rule.

Samuel begins by declaring that what follows will be the "ways" or "rights" or "practice" of Israel's king. This does not necessarily mean these are the rights given to the king by God. However, they are the nature of being ruled by a single person. They are the patterns demonstrated by many kings of city-states and nations during this era. Israel should know this, as they are asking to be like these other cultures.

For starters, the Israelites should expect the king to build a "standing army:" a permanent military. This will eventually be equipped with chariots. The Israelites had never had chariots before this time, but King David would begin to use them (2 Samuel 8:4) and Solomon would fully employ them for regular use (1 Kings 4:26). One of the stipulations for kings in the Mosaic law was that they not "acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses" (Deuteronomy 17:16).

The use of chariots requires the care and feeding of horses, as well as chariot riders and even men to run before the king's chariots to announce that the king was approaching (2 Samuel 15:1; 1 Kings 1:5). These chariot soldiers will be plucked from Israel's youth, Samuel warns.
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