At this time, Samuel the priest 300 ruled over the Hebrews; and there being a cessation of all war, the people lived in peace. But this tranquillity was disturbed by an invasion of the Philistines, and all ranks were in a state of terror from their consciousness of guilt. Samuel, having first offered sacrifice, and trusting in God, led his men out to battle, and the enemy being routed at the first onset, victory declared for the Hebrews. But when the fear of the enemy was thus removed, and affairs were now prosperous and peaceful, the people, changing their views for the worse, after the manner of the mob, who are always weary of what they have, and long for things of which they have had no experience, expressed a desire for the kingly name—a name greatly disliked by almost all free nations. Yes, with an example of madness certainly very remarkable, they now preferred to exchange liberty for slavery. They, therefore, come in great numbers to Samuel, in order that, as he himself was now an old man, he might make for them a king. But he endeavored in a useful address, quietly to deter the people from their insane desire; he set forth the tyranny and haughty rule of kings, while he extolled liberty, and denounced slavery; finally, he threatened them with the divine wrath, if they should show themselves men so corrupt in mind as that, when having God as their king, they should demand for themselves a king from among men. Having spoken these and other words of a like nature to no purpose, finding that the people persisted in the determination, he consulted God. And God, moved by the madness of that insane nation, replied that nothing was to be refused to them asking against their own interests.
Samuel was a Levite, but not a priest.