Finally, we read that the people of the land came to Samuel and asked him to appoint a king, like all the other nations. This displeased Samuel, so he went to prayer. "The Lord said to Samuel, Obey the voice of the people in relation to all that they say to you. For it is not you they have rejected, but Me they have rejected from reigning over them. Just as all the deeds which they have done to Me, from the day I brought them up from Egypt even to this day, in that they have forsaken Me and have served other gods, so they are doing also to you now. Now then, obey their voice. Only you will testify against them and proclaim to them the judgment concerning the king who will reign over them. (I Samuel 8:7-9) Samuel then warned them of what a king would be like: taxation, conscripted labor, bureaucracy..(sound familiar?)
It looks like God's concept of King is Himself--with messengers to teach, but with the intention that people voluntarily recognize His authority to rule. In just a few hundred years, it was apparent that this wasn't happening. The subsequent history of the kings after the split at Solomon's death includes only a few kings in the southern kingdom of Judah who followed God, and none at all in the north. Within a few hunded years, both kingdoms were overrun by foreign empires, and there were no kings of Judah or Israel until 163 BC, with a revolt against a Greek successor to Alexander the Great. There was a century of war and intrigue, and then the Roman general Pompey attached this area to Rome. The people of Judea recalled the glory days of King David, and the ideal grew of a king anointed by God who would rise up, kick out all the pagan rulers, and re-establish a Godly kingdom.
This is the atmosphere into which Jesus came, talking about the Kingdom of the God of Heaven. Looking all the way back, we can see God's original ideal of a people who would come to Him, follow the leadership of His called people, and under the words of God spoken by His people bring all the world into knowledge of Him. Many of the people whom Jesus taught saw him as heralding the return of the ideal King David, and even his handpicked disciples asked, as their last question as he was returning to His father, if he was going to restore the kingdom to Israel, obviously thinking of a human kingdom. We see now that this didn't happen the way they expected; we need to look past David, to the words of God to Samuel: a kingdom of this world is a rejection of His spiritual Kingdom; that power and glory comes by total allegience to Him.