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Saturday, May 18th, 2024
Eve of Pentacost
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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 12

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-25

Chapter 12

Now in the twelfth chapter Samuel is now sort of stepping down because they have now proclaimed the king. So his career as the judge over Israel has pretty much come to an end, as the reigns of government are now turned over from the theocracy, Samuel the judge speaking for God to the people, now to a monarchy where Saul is ruling. So Samuel is stepping down. This is more or less his farewell speech to the people. He is going to go into pretty much political obscurity after this point. He's gonna step into the background. He will be dealing not with the people; he will be dealing with Saul and with individuals, but no longer the public figure in leading Israel. So this is his last, final speech to Israel in chapter twelve.

Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in that you have asked that I should set a king over you. And now, behold, the king is walking there before you: and I am old, I'm gray-haired; and my sons are with you: and I have walked with you from my childhood to this day ( 1 Samuel 12:1-2 ).

So you do remember that he started out his career extremely early. As soon as he was weaned he was a public figure. He was there in the place of worship. The people who would gather for worship saw this little boy year by year as he grew and as he developed. They recognized that God's hand was upon this young man. He just sort of naturally grew into the position of leadership and judge over Israel.

Now [He declares] here I am: and I want you to witness against me before the Lord, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? whose donkey have I taken? ["Who have I defrauded?"] who have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind my eyes? tell me and I will restore it ( 1 Samuel 12:3 ).

In other words, he is declaring his innocency before the people. "Look, I didn't take from you at all. I didn't take from you your oxen, your donkeys. I didn't accept bribes. I've not oppressed you. If anyone feels that I've oppressed you, anyone feels I've defrauded, step forward, and I will pay." Really Samuel did have a very beautiful and remarkable career as the judge of Israel. Extremely outstanding person.

So they answered, You haven't defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither have you taken anything from us. And he said unto them, The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand. And they answered, God is witness ( 1 Samuel 12:4-5 ).

"If you swear God is witness, I've not taken anything from you." "That's right, we swear to that.

So Samuel said unto the people, [Rehearsing now their history a little bit.] It is the Lord that advanced Moses and Aaron, and they brought your fathers out of the land of Egypt. Now stand still, for a minute that I might reason with you before the Lord of all the righteous acts which the Lord did to you and your fathers ( 1 Samuel 12:6-7 ).

Now he is seeking now to justify God. He's justified himself; "Look I've taken nothing."


"I'm clean."


"Now I want to show you that the Lord is also clean, that the Lord has treated you right. That He has never mistreated you or your fathers. That which the Lord has done has been fair and just."

When Jacob was come into Egypt, and your fathers cried to the Lord, then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, and they brought your fathers out of Egypt, and made them to dwell in this place. And when your fathers forgot the Lord their God, he sold them into the hand of Sisera, who was the captain of the host of Hazor, and then into the hand of the Philistines, and then into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them. And they cried unto the Lord, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord, and we have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve you. And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you dwelled safely. And when you saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, you said unto me, No; but a king shall reign over us: when the Lord your God was your king ( 1 Samuel 12:8-12 ).

"Now I want you to acknowledge this that God was fair and just. Your father Jacob went down to Egypt, and there your fathers were oppressed. They cried unto God, God sent Moses and Aaron who brought them out of Egypt, and to this place. But when your fathers began to forsake God, then they were forsaken of God. It was only after they had forsaken God that their enemies came in and began to oppress them. But they cried unto God, and God sent deliverers." these various judges.

He names some of the judges that God used as the deliverer, finally Himself. But now you are faced with another crisis and rather than crying out unto God for His deliverance, you are now asking for a king. In thus doing, you are rejecting God from being king. So you are going from a theocracy, a people governed by God, to a monarchy, people governed by an earthly king.

Now therefore behold the king that you have chosen, and you have desired. ["Here he is, take a look at him."] and, behold, the Lord has set a king over you. If you will fear the Lord, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against his commandment, then shall both you and the king that reigns over you continue following the Lord your God: But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord, and you rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall the hand of the Lord be against you, as it was against your fathers.

Now I want you to stand and see this great thing, which the Lord is gonna do before your eyes. Today is the day of the wheat harvest. I'm gonna call unto the Lord, and he's gonna send thunder and rain; that you might perceive and know that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for a king. So Samuel called unto the Lord; the Lord sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. And the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil thing, to ask us a king. And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: you have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain ( 1 Samuel 12:13-21 ).

So Samuel says, "Look you've done an evil thing in asking for a king. That you might know how wicked it is, God's gonna show you a wonder. I'm gonna ask God to send thunder and rain upon your wheat harvest."

There in the sight of the people God sent thunder and rain. So as the thunder began to clap around them, and the rain began to fall, they said, "Oh we've sinned, we've done wickedly. Pray that God not destroy us."

Now it is interesting, they aren't really repenting. The repentance means a change, a true repentance they would've said, "Oh get rid of Saul. We'll let God serve us or reign over us. We'll serve God." That would've been repentance. But theirs is, "Oh we're sorry, but we still want our king."

Now there is a difference between sorrow and repentance. The Lord requires repentance from sin, not just a sorrow for sin. So often we have a sorrow because of the consequences of our sin, but we go on doing it. God wants repentance, that is a turning away from the evil in our lives. God requires repentance.

So they said, "Pray that we will not die."

Samuel said to them, "You're not gonna die, but just make sure that you don't quit serving the Lord, for if you do, you're gonna start serving other gods, vain things, which cannot profit or deliver."

Now he declared this because he knew the nature of man. You've got to serve somebody. If you are not serving God, you're going to be serving some vain thing that really can't help you or deliver you, that is really no profit to you. We look around the world today and we see the vain things that men are worshiping or serving. But you cannot serve God and mammon. They are mutually exclusive. If you forsake serving the Lord, because you've got to serve somebody, you're gonna start serving vain things, which when your time of trouble and peril arises, they'll not be able to profit you or to deliver you.

But if you serve the Lord he will not forsake you for his great name's sake; because it has pleased the Lord to make you his people ( 1 Samuel 12:22 ).

"Now for God's reasons He's pleased to make you His people. If you'll just serve Him, He will not forsake you."

Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and right way ( 1 Samuel 12:23 ):

Now here Samuel brings up something that to me is quite interesting. They said, when they realized their wickedness, they said, "Pray for us that we not die." In response to that Samuel said, "As for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you." In other words, not praying is sinful. Not praying is sinning against the Lord. "God forbid that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you."

Now if God has commanded us to pray one for another, then our failure to pray for one another is disobedient to the command of God, and disobedience to God's command is sin. The Lord has told us we are to pray one for another. Therefore we are all of us required to pray for each other. God forbid that we should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for one another. Oh, that we would realize the awful sin of prayerlessness in our lives. That not to pray, not to spend time in prayer with the Lord is actually sinning against the Lord. It's sinning against His commands to us.

Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart; for consider how great things he has done for you. [Just consider the wonderful things God has done for you, and then serve Him with all your heart.] But if you continue in wickedness, just know you're gonna be consumed, both you and your king ( 1 Samuel 12:24-25 ). "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 12". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/1-samuel-12.html. 2014.
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