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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 12

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in all that ye said unto me, and have made a king over you.

Samuel said unto all Israel. The venerable judge, in resigning his magisterial authority, challenged the most minute inquiry into every act of his administration. He called upon any one who had ever brought a cause for decision before him, to state whether he felt that injustice had been done him, or any abuse had been committed of the public interests confided to his care. Standing in an open assembly, he took God to witness that his hands were pure, and that uprightness and integrity had graded the whole course of his official life. History does scarcely anywhere present a more striking example of the moral sublime. Grotius compares Samuel to Aristides.

Verse 2

And now, behold, the king walketh before you: and I am old and grayheaded; and, behold, my sons are with you: and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day.

I am old and grey-headed. [The Septuagint, from a different punctuation, renders it, kagoo gegeeraka kai katheesomai, and I have become old, and will sit down.] This public address was made after the solemn re-installment of Saul, and before the convention at Gilgal separated. Samuel having challenged a review of his public life, received a unanimous testimony to the unsullied honour of his personal character, as well as the justice and integrity of his public administration.

Verses 3-4

Behold, here I am: witness against me before the LORD, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it you.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 5

And he said unto them, The LORD is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that ye have not found ought in my hand. And they answered, He is witness.

The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day - that, by their own acknowledgment, he had given them no cause to weary of the divine government by judges, and that, therefore, the blame of desiring a change of government rested with themselves. This was only insinuated, and they did not fully perceive his drift.

Verse 6

And Samuel said unto the people, It is the LORD that advanced Moses and Aaron, and that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 7

Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD of all the righteous acts of the LORD, which he did to you and to your fathers.

Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you. The burden of this faithful and uncompromising address was to show them that though they had obtained the change of government they had so importunately desired, their conduct was highly displeasing to their heavenly King. Nevertheless, if they remained faithful to him, and to the principles of the theocracy, they might be delivered from many of the evils to which the new state of things would expose them. And in confirmation of these statements, no less than in evidence of the divine displeasure, a remarkable phenomenon, on the invocation of the prophet, and of which he gave due premonition, took place.

Verses 8-10

When Jacob was come into Egypt, and your fathers cried unto the LORD, then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, which brought forth your fathers out of Egypt, and made them dwell in this place.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 11

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 ye dwelled safe.

Bedan. The Septuagint reads Barak; and for "Samuel" some versions read 'Samson,' which seems more natural than that the prophet should mention himself, to the total omission of the greatest of the judges (cf. Hebrews 11:32).

Verse 12

And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 13

Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the LORD hath set a king over you.

Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen ... the Lord hath set a king over you. In concluding his address to the assembled heads of the nation, he presents to them Saul, whom in Yahweh's name he had previously anointed to be king; but while stating that they had obtained the object of their ardent desire, he reminded them that 'the Lord had set a king over them' - i:e., that he was, in the theocratic government of the Hebrews, the representative and vicegerent of Yahweh.

Verse 14

If ye will fear the LORD, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the LORD your God:

If ye will fear the Lord ...

Verse 15

But if ye will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall the hand of the LORD be against you, as it was against your fathers.

But if ye will not obey the voice of the Lord ... To set before them the alternative consequences of obedience and disobedience to the authority of the divine law was, as Graves well remarks, 'A lesson peculiarly necessary at the beginning of the regal government which the people had called for, from a certain degree of impatience under that theocracy which God by Moses had established.'

Verse 16

Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the LORD will do before your eyes.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 17

Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call unto the LORD, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king.

Is it not wheat harvest today? That season in Palestine occurs at the beginning of May, when it seldom or never rains, and the sky is serene and cloudless. There could not, therefore, have been a stronger or more appropriate proof of a divine mission than the phenomenon of rain and thunder happening, without any prognostics of its approach, upon the prediction of a person professing himself to be a prophet the of Lord, and giving it as an attestation of his words being true. The people regarded it as a miraculous display of divine power, and, panic-struck by this unmistakeable token of the divine displeasure at the criminal motives which had prompted their desire for a king, confessed their sin and implored the prophet to pray for them. (Josephus calls it 'a winter storm in the midst of harvest' ('Antiquities,' b. 6:, ch. 5:, sec. 6). In our climate, thunder and lightning commonly occur in summer, but in Palestine they usually happen in winter, and are unknown in summer.) Promising to do so, he dispelled their fears. The conduct of Samuel, in this whole affair of the king's appointment, shows him to have been a great and good man, who sank all private and personal considerations in disinterested zeal for his country's good; and whose last words in public were to warn the people and their king of the danger of apostasy and disobedience to God.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/1-samuel-12.html. 1871-8.
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