1 Samuel 8

1 Samuel 8:3 his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment
Ironic that Samuel had the same problem with his two sons as did his mentor Eli. While there is no apparent condemnation of Samuel’s parenting, still the Israelites use this point to argue for a king, “Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” (v. 5)
1 Samuel 8:5 make us a king to judge us like all the nations
Marion G. Romney
In the days of Samuel… Israel clamored for a king. “Make us a king,” they cried, “to judge us like all the nations.” (1 Sam. 8:5.) They thought it was more important to be like the people around them, the heathen nations, than it was to follow the counsel of the Lord…
Samuel mourned over the obstinacy of his people, for he knew that if in defiance of the counsel of the Lord they persisted in their demand for a king, it would mean their downfall. But the Lord, always respectful of man’s agency, whether he wants to do right or whether he wants to do wrong, said to Samuel:
Hearken unto the voice of the people … for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. (1 Sam. 8:7.)
As we know, Israel got their king. In a few generations their kingdom was divided, the people were taken captive, Israel was scattered, and Judah became a hiss and a byword throughout the nations. (“Seek Not to Counsel the Lord,” Ensign, Aug. 1985, 2-3)
Marion G. Romney
Samuel therefore anointed Saul to be their king. In due time, just as Samuel had predicted, heavy burdens were laid upon them, their sons and daughters were made servants of the king, and war came. The nation was divided into two kingdoms, Israel and Judah, both of which were, in their turn, carried away into captivity. Not only did they lose their political freedom, but their very political existence as nations was terminated. (Ensign, Nov. 1981, 44)
Marion G. Romney
Israel thus surrendered the form of free government God had given them. They got their king all right, and a few decades later they were taken captive into slavery. Slavery entered into by one’s own choice is no less slavery than that imposed upon him by external force. (Ensign, May 1976, 120)
1 Samuel 8:7 they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me
Latter-Day Saints look with great anticipation on the time when the Lord will be their king. They expect him to reward the righteous, to defeat their enemies, and rule as “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Tim. 6:15). John Taylor spoke of this day, “The Lord had his eye on something yet more glorious, something in which the salvation, and happiness of the world were concerned; a rule of righteousness, when, not only one nation, but the kingdoms and dominions of the whole earth, should be given to the Son of God; and when all nations, kindreds, people, and tongues should serve and obey him; and as the earth belonged to him, and the people also, that he should govern them. Such will be the case… hereafter.” (The Government of God [Liverpool: S. W. Richards, 1852], 65 - 67)
Jehovah was the king for ancient Israel. Their judges were mortal but their king was divine. They didn’t know how good they had it!
Ezra Taft Benson
God has to work through mortals of varying degrees of spiritual progress. Sometimes he temporarily grants to men their unwise requests in order that they might learn from their own sad experiences. Some refer to this as the “Samuel principle.” The children of Israel wanted a king like all the other nations. The prophet Samuel was displeased and prayed to the Lord about it. The Lord responded by saying, Samuel, “they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.” The Lord told Samuel to warn the people of the consequences if they had a king. Samuel gave them the warning. But they still insisted on their king. So God gave them a king and let them suffer. They learned the hard way. God wanted it to be otherwise, but within certain bounds he grants unto men according to their desires. Bad experiences are an expensive school that only fools keep going to. (See 1 Sam. 8.)
Sometimes in our attempts to mimic the world, and contrary to the prophet’s counsel, we run after the world’s false educational, political, musical, and dress ideas. New worldly standards take over, a gradual breakdown occurs, and finally, after much suffering, a humble people are ready to be taught once again a higher law. (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations,” New Era, May 1975, 17-18)
Dallin H. Oaks
When the children of Israel ignored the prophet Samuel’s inspired warnings and begged him to appoint a king to rule over them, the Lord directed him to do as they asked, explaining: “They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me.” (1 Sam. 8:7.)
…the Bible teaches that rejection of or murmuring against the counsel of the Lord’s servants amounts to actions against the Lord himself. How could it be otherwise? The Lord acts through his servants. That is the pattern he has established to safeguard our agency in mortality. His servants are not perfect, which is another consequence of mortality. But if we murmur against the Lord’s servants, we are working against the Lord and his cause and will soon find ourselves without the companionship of his Spirit. (“Criticism,” Ensign, Feb. 1987, 71)