far be it from me that I should cease praying for you

This morning I took another look at the story of Israel demanding a king for themselves (1 Sam 8). I was wondering about the way God responded to them, greatly displeased about their choice, predicting the oppressions they would experience under their king, and yet he gives them a king anyway. God even chooses the king for Israel. I don't quite understand God's cooperation. Maybe it's something similar to the way Jesus explained God's giving of laws for divorce: "For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment." (Mk 10.5)

Samuel's speech at Saul's anointing reflects this apparent tension (and he uses a sign of God's displeasure that farmers understand clearly: a storm on harvest day, when the grain needs to be dry):
"Behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the LORD has set a king over you. If you will fear the LORD and serve him and hearken to his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well; but if you will not hearken to the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king.

"Now therefore stand still and see this great thing, which the LORD will do before your eyes. Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the LORD, that he may send thunder and rain; and you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking for yourselves a king."

So Samuel called upon the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel. And all the people said to Samuel, "Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king."

And Samuel said to the people, "Fear not; you have done all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; and do not turn aside after vain things which cannot profit or save, for they are vain.

"For the LORD will not cast away his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself. Moreover as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you; and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.

"Only fear the LORD, and serve him faithfully with all your heart; for consider what great things he has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king." (1 Sam 12.13-25)

God is angry, and has warned that their choice will cause them suffering (and the loss of their good life under God's direct kingship). Yet he doesn't abandon them but continues to work with them. And Samuel, also greatly upset with the people, continues to pray for them and instruct them.