Chapter 30: Taxation

Christian Economics: Teacher’s Edition
So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. 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. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day’ (I Samuel 8:10 – 18).
AnalysisThe people of Israel were in rebellion against God. They wanted a king. Why? Because the nations around them had kings. Israel had done without a king or anything like one ever since the death of Joshua. Now they told Samuel to anoint a man to serve as king. This displeased Samuel. He prayed to God.
And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.’ (vv. 7 – 9)
There is no question that high taxes and centralized civil government go together. Kingship represented a major move in Israel toward centralization. God told Samuel to warn them what this would mean in terms of taxation. The king would tax them at a rate of 10%, which was equal to the mandatory tithe they paid to the Levites. This threat did not impress the people. They demanded a king.

This post was published at Gary North on July 07, 2017.