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1Sa 12:1 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.
Ver. 1. And Samuel said unto all Israel ] In this most excellent chapter the people giveth testimony to Samuel’s innocency, heareth his wisdom, seeth his patience, admireth his power with God.
Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice. ] Which was so violent and impetuous. Now you must hearken to my voice, and be told that after your peace offerings God hath still a quarrel with you, and you must be yet further humbled, or else your sin will find you out, your iniquity will be your ruin. Great sins must be greatly repented of: otherwise men shall find that God may be angry enough with them, though they outwardly prosper.
1Sa 12:2 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.
Ver. 2. And now, behold, the king walketh before you. ] Graditur ante vos: gressu, sc., grallatorio, with a pace and state befitting a king: with care and charge also, to be unto you a shepherd and a shield. See Numbers 27:17 . For which purpose, Samuel, as he here resigneth his power to him, so he propoundeth himself for a pattern to him in the ensuing apology.
And I am old and gray headed. ] About sixty, as it is conceived, and much decayed in nature by his incessant pains in his office: Cura facit canos. What marvel that he who was so old-a-young-man should not be a young-old man? a Some Rabbis think that Samuel was but fifty and two when he died, but then he must have been gray headed at thirty-four, which is not likely, since he lived eighteen years after Saul was king, as Josephus holdeth. b
And, behold, my sons are with you. ] Conditione privata, as private persons, so that you may question them, and deal by them as they deserve.
And I have walked before you. ] In all integrity and good conscience, not only "harmless and blameless, as the son of God, without rebuke," Php 2:15 but useful and serviceable in my place and station; trading all my talents for the common good of you all. Samuelis sane nomen (ut de Socrate, Plinius) c non hominis, sed integritatis et sapientiae nomen.
a παιδαριογερων .
b Lib. vi., in fine.
c Lib. vii. cap. 31,34.
1Sa 12:3 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.
Ver. 3. Whose ox have I taken? ] So Moses purgeth himself, Num 16:15 that he had not taken a hoof of any one: and St Paul to the same purpose in many places; as Acts 20:33 1 Corinthians 9:18 , &c.: and Greg. Nazianzen, Orat. 32. Quid populure hunc per avaritiam circumvenimus? nunquid privatis utilitatibus consuluimus? &c. Whom have we circumvented by covetousness? and wherein have we sought our own ends? &c. So Melancthon; George, prince of Anhalt; the late victorious Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden; "I protest before God," said he, in a speech to his German plunderers, "that I have not by all this war enriched myself so far as a pair of boots comes to. Yea, I had rather ride without boots than in the least degree enrich myself by the damage of poor people."
Or whom have I defrauded? ] Quem calumniatus sum? Vatab. - Compare Luke 19:8 . Whom have I deprived of his wealth by forged cavillation?
Whom have I oppressed? ] Contrivi, pulsavi. Whom have I beaten, bruised, shattered, or any way violenced?
Or of whose hand have I received any bribe? ] Munus expiatorium. Olim didici, quid sint munera, saith one: I know well the danger of meddling with bribes or ransoms, as they are here called. For, like the fish torpedo, they will infect and benumb the hand that touches them. a
To blind mine eyes therewith. ] "A gift blindeth the eyes of the wise," Deu 16:19 transformeth him into a very walking idol, that hath eyes and seeth not, ears that hear not: only he hath hands to hold bribes. Isa 33:15
1Sa 12:4 And they said, Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man’s hand.
Ver. 4. Thou hast not defrauded us. ] Happy is Samuel thus to be acquitted by himself in private, by others in public, in both by God. Quoad vixit, virtutum laude crevit, saith Cornelius Nepos concerning Cato. In maximis laboribus usque ad summam senectutem summa cum gloria vivit, saith Cicero of the same Cato. Invictus praeterea cupiditatibus animi et rigidae innocentiae, saith Pliny of him. How much better may all this be said of Samuel, and a great deal more?
1Sa 12:5 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.
Ver. 5. The Lord is witness against you. ] Samuel being so innocent, was the fitter to reprove: otherwise they would have retorted, Heal thyself, cast out first the beam that is in thine own eye. Cave ne dicta factis deficientibus crubescant. a
And they answered, He is witness. ] Heb., And he answered, Witness. A voice from heaven answered, Witness; so some Hebrews sense it, as Lyra testifieth.
1Sa 12:6 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.
Ver. 6. It is the Lord that advanced Moses and Aaron. ] Heb., That made them; not only made them men, but great men. See the like, Deu 32:6 Isa 43:7 Eph 2:10 Revelation 1:6 .
And that brought your fathers. ] And so made, that is, exalted them too. Act 13:17
1Sa 12:7 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.
Ver. 7. Now therefore stand still. ] Bustle not, bristle not, but suffer the words of reproof and admonition. A proud person would have replied, Who can stand still to have his eyes picked out? A headstrong horse casteth his rider, and riseth up against him.
That I may reason with you. ] Or, Contend with you in judgment. Sweetly said Epictetus, A faithful and prudent reprover is a Mercury, or messenger sent from God, to reduce a man to better practice.
1Sa 12:8 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.
Ver. 8. Where Jacob was come into Egypt. ] When that "Syrian ready to perish went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous." Deu 26:5-9
1Sa 12:9 And when they forgat the LORD their God, he sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them.
Ver. 9. And when they forgat the Lord. ] As their wont was: and hence grew all their other wickednesses. See Romans 3:17-18 .
1Sa 12:10 And they cried unto the LORD, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD, and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve thee.
Ver. 10. And they cried unto the Lord. ] Lachrymas angustiae exprimit Crux; lachrymas poenitentiae Peccatum. Misery is the best art of memory; God whippeth his stragglers home by weeping cross.
1Sa 12:11 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.
Ver. 11. And Bedan. ] That is, Barak, according to the Septuagint. Others, Jair; but most likely Samson, as hath been noted. See Trapp on " Jdg 13:25 "
And Samuel. ] He mentioneth himself, not out of vain glory, but to aggravate their ingratitude toward him, by whom they had been so lately and memorably delivered. 1 Samuel 7:9-10 ; 1Sa 8:4-5
1Sa 12:12 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.
Ver. 12. Nay; but a king shall reign over us. ] This Nay is much and oft alleged against them; to show their wilfulness, and how they were set upon it, not hearkening to any right reason. A wilful man standeth like a stake in the midst of a stream; lets all pass by him, but he standeth where he was.
1Sa 12:13 Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, [and] whom ye have desired! and, behold, the LORD hath set a king over you.
Ver. 13. Behold, the Lord hath set a king over you. ] But "in his wrath." Hos 13:11 See Trapp on " Hos 13:11 "
1Sa 12:14 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:
Ver. 14. If ye will fear the Lord, and serve him. ] Here is a precedent for preachers, who must one while chide their people, another while counsel them, another while comfort them, and always pray for them. They must turn themselves into all shapes and fashions of spirit and of speech to bring men home to God.
Continue following the Lord your God. ] The Septuagint adds, And he will deliver you.
1Sa 12:15 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.
Ver. 15. There shall the hand of the Lord be against you. ] This is an excellent way of preaching, - to mingle promises and threatenings. Sour and sweet make the best sauce.
1Sa 12:16 Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the LORD will do before your eyes.
Ver. 16. Now therefore stand and see. ] He had bidden them before Stand and hear, 1Sa 12:7 now, Stand and see: that both these two learned senses, as Aristotle calleth them, being affected together, they might be instructed, lest else God’s soul should be disjointed from them, as Jeremiah 6:8 . "Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see." Isa 42:18
1 Samuel 12:17 [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.
Ver. 17. Is it not wheat harvest today? ] And so, no usual season for rain; Pro 26:1 because the parching heat of the sun drieth up the exhalations and vapours. It was a fair day, howsoever, when these things were spoken: and the change was as sudden as that at Sodom. Gen 19:22
I will call unto the Lord. ] And could ye not rest satisfied with such a governor as is thus prevalent with God, and can open or shut heaven by his prayers?
And he shall send thunder and rain. ] Which though it might hinder their harvest, yet it furthered their soul’s health, which was chiefly to be regarded.
1Sa 12:18 So Samuel called unto the LORD; and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.
Ver. 18. And the Lord sent thunder and rain that day. ] Out of the midst of water he fetched fire, astonishing the people with the fearful noise of that eruption; that he might refute their folly, and bring them to repentance: since now they saw evidently that God was greatly displeased with them for rejecting his government, and that it was not Samuel’s saying only.
1Sa 12:19 And all 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, to ask us a king.
Ver. 19. Pray … that we die not.] As they now feared they should, so terrible was the tempest: but good Samuel prayed it down again likely, when the people were thoroughly humbled. It is well observed that they say, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God; they say not, the Lord our God: for they might fear they had now forfeited their interest, and that they were discovenanted.
For we have added unto all our sins. ] By occasion of this sin, they came to the sight and recognition of many more. Our lives are as full of sins as the firmament is of stars, or the furnace of sparks.
1Sa 12:20 And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart;
Ver. 20. Fear not, ] i.e., Despair not, cast not away your confidence: they that go down into this pit cannot hope for God’s truth. Isa 38:18 It is a kind of taking away the Almighty, to limit his boundless mercy; despair is a high point of atheism.
Yet turn not aside. ] As the devil, that old manslayer, would have it, tempting you first to presume, and then to despair: "whom resist steadfast in the faith."
1Sa 12:21 And turn ye not aside: for [then should ye go] after vain [things], which cannot profit nor deliver; for they [are] vain.
Ver. 21. And turn ye not aside. ] To idols, or other of the devil’s anodynes, as music, merry company, multiplicity of worldly business, or the like. This is but to imitate the wounded deer, which frisketh about, but hath the deadly arrow sticking in his side.
1Sa 12:22 For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.
Ver. 22. For the Lord will not forsake his people. ] Whatever the devil and your own misgiving hearts may suggest to the contrary: as it is ordinary with men to measure God according to their own models, and to think that he should deal by them, as they have done by him. But he is God and not man, yea, there is no God like him for pardoning of sins of all sorts and sizes. Mic 7:17
For his great name’s sake,] i.e., For his honour’s sake, which he mainly respecteth in all his actions: there being none higher than himself to whom to have respect.
Because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people. ] He chose you for his love; and he still loveth you for his choice. Go home to him, therefore, again, and he will receive you. As when man and wife drop out, they consider they must live together, and therefore they piece again: so should it be betwixt God and his people.
1Sa 12:23 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 the right way:
Ver. 23. In ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you.] I will faithfully perform the office of a prophet in preaching unto you, and praying for you. See Deu 33:18 Acts 6:4 . Whether a minister shall do more good to others by his prayers or preaching, I will not determine, saith one; a but he shall certainly by his prayers reap more comfort to himself.
a Dr Tho. Taylor’s Saints’ Progr., p. 172.
1Sa 12:24 Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great [things] he hath done for you.
Ver. 24. Only fear the Lord. ] Else my praying for you shall profit you nothing: my preaching also will be lost labour.
And serve him in truth. ] Without dissimulation
With all your heart. ] Without diminution.
For consider how great things, &c. ] Mercy calleth for duty: deliverance commandeth obedience.
1Sa 12:25 But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.
Ver. 25. But if ye shall still do wickedly. ] Thus he mixeth promises and menaces, 1Sa 12:15 and artificially concludeth with that which would stick by them, and ring in their ears.
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Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 12". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29