In Exodus 18, Jethro sees that Moses has too much duties for one person. God had appointed Moses as head judge and it was too burdensome. Instead, Jethro devises a system of judges. All disputes in the land were handled by a hierarchy of judges. Israel is ruled this way until 1 Samuel 8, in which the people declare that they would rather have a king than judges. God takes this as the people rejecting God, and warns them about how evil a king will be. The people still want a king, so God begrudgingly allows Samuel to appoint Saul. Here is the text:
1Sa 8:4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
1Sa 8:5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
1Sa 8:6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD.
1Sa 8:7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.
1Sa 8:8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.
The representatives of the people are asking the prophet of God for a king (like all other nations). This displeases Samuel, but he brings the question to God. God proclaims that the request for a king is rejection of God (rejecting that God should “reign over them”). He gives Samuel the “it’s not you, it’s me” speech. God then tells Samuel to explain to the people what the end result will be:
1Sa 8:9 Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
1Sa 8:10 And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.
Here are the list of harms that God identified:
1Sa 8:11 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.
1Sa 8:12 And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
1Sa 8:13 And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
1Sa 8:14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
1Sa 8:15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
1Sa 8:16 And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
1Sa 8:17 He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
1Sa 8:18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day.
God ends this list with a warning. Because the people have rejected God by asking for a king (along with other actions) then God will reject them. But the people do not care and still demand a king:
1Sa 8:19 Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;
1Sa 8:20 That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.
Something interesting happens, Samuel returns to God and repeats to God what the people told Samuel. God then tells Samuel to appoint a king:
1Sa 8:21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD.
1Sa 8:22 And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.
As a side note, later on God repents of having made Saul king. God allowed the people to supplant the governmental system in order to gain a king, God appoints that king, and that king fails God.