What does 1 Samuel 8:6 mean?
ESV: But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." And Samuel prayed to the Lord.
NIV: But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord.
NASB: But the matter was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, 'Give us a king to judge us.' And Samuel prayed to the Lord.
CSB: When they said, "Give us a king to judge us," Samuel considered their demand wrong, so he prayed to the Lord.
NLT: Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance.
KJV: But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord.
NKJV: But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” So Samuel prayed to the Lord.
Verse Commentary:
The elders of Israel have asked Samuel to appoint a king to govern them. The two reasons they have given are that Samuel is getting old and that his sons are corrupt (1 Samuel 8:5). A third implied reason is so that Israel can be like other nations; in other words, they felt this is how nations "should be" run and Israel "should" do the same (1 Samuel 8:5).

Some translations describe Samuel as being displeased at this. A more literal reading is that the matter was evil in Samuel's eyes. He hated this proposal. On one hand, it may have been personal. Samuel had served as judge over Israel for at least thirty years or so. The people were asking him to replace himself with a king and to keep his own sons from ever coming to national power. That likely stung.

Samuel may also have recognized that the hearts of the people to be like the other nations instead of depending directly on the Lord as their king showed how weak their faith in God truly was. Samuel immediately takes his frustration with this proposal to the Lord in prayer. God's response is surprising (1 Samuel 8:7).
Verse Context:
First Samuel 8:1–9 jumps forward in time, likely several decades, from the events of the previous chapter. Samuel is now old and his sons, also judges, are corrupt. The elders of Israel gather in Ramah to ask Samuel to appoint a king for the nation. Samuel is concerned but takes their proposal to the Lord. The Lord says that the people are rejecting Him as king. Still, the Lord tells Samuel to do as the people say after he gives them fair warning about how a king will treat them.
Chapter Summary:
Samuel is old, and his sons are corrupt. The elders of Israel gather in Ramah to ask Samuel to appoint a king over them. Samuel resists, but the Lord tells the prophet to do as the people have said after warning them about what a king will take from them. The list includes their children, property, fields, crops, and freedom. The Lord will not save them from their king, Samuel warns. The elders insist they still want a king like all the other nations. The Lord agrees and tells Samuel to provide them one.
Chapter Context:
First Samuel 8 jumps forward in time perhaps thirty years from the events of the previous chapter. Samuel is now old and his sons, also judges, are corrupt. The elders of Israel gather to ask Samuel to appoint a king for them. Samuel doesn't like it, but he takes the request to the Lord. The Lord tells Samuel to do it, even though the people are rejecting Him as their king. Samuel warns the elders of all the things a king will take from them to serve himself. The elders still insist, and the Lord grants their request.
Book Summary:
First Samuel introduces the key figures who led Israel after the era of the judges. The books of 1 and 2 Samuel were originally part of a single text, split in certain translations shortly before the birth of Christ. Some of the Bible’s most famous characters are depicted in this book. These including the prophet Samuel, Israel’s first king, Saul, her greatest king, David, and other famous names such as Goliath and Jonathan. By the end of this book, Saul has fallen; the book of 2 Samuel begins with David’s ascension to the throne.
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