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Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 12

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-15

Samuel Protests his Integrity

v. 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. "His listening to the voice of the people was based on the repeated divine command and was an act of self-denying obedience to the will of God. " (Lange. ) These words introduced the farewell speech of Samuel, the climax of the joyful meeting at Gilgal.

v. 2. And now, behold, the king walketh before you, having charge of the entire government of the people in peace and in war; and I am old and gray-headed, Cf 1 Samuel 8:5; and, behold, my sons are with you, and the present change in government was evidently necessary, since he himself had felt the need of placing some of his burdens upon the shoulders of his sons; and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day, he had been in public office, and therefore in the eye of the people since his infancy.

v. 3. Behold, here I am; witness against me before the Lord and before His anointed, the newly-elected king Saul: Whose ox have I taken, or whose ass have I taken, or whom have I defrauded, namely, by using his power in a ruthless manner? Whom have I Oppressed, by any form of violence, or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith, by taking ransom money in order to sell his favor and keep some criminal from the well-deserved punishment? And I will restore it you. In case any injustice, any mismanagement of office could be charged against him, he was willing to make public amends. His open challenge showed the serenity of his conscience, his consciousness of being innocent of any flagrant wrong-doing.

v. 4. And they said, Thou hast not defrauded us nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man's hand. It was a splendid testimonial of the entire people to the honesty and integrity of Samuel.

v. 5. And he said unto them, his intention being to give to their testimonial the support of a solemn declaration before the Lord, 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. They accepted the solemn adjuration and supported their declaration by a statement having the force and weight of an oath.

v. 6. And Samuel, in order to have the people realize still more deeply their ingratitude in rejecting a government which they themselves acknowledged as having been so praiseworthy, said unto the people, It is the Lord, He is witness, that advanced Moses and Aaron, made them what they were, gave them their place in history, and that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt. He had heard their declaration. which implied that they had, in the person of Samuel, who represented this covenant God, rejected Jehovah Himself, as Samuel now proceeds to show from their history.

v. 7. Now, therefore, stand still that I may reason with you, as though he were conducting his own cause before a judge, before the Lord of all the righteous acts of the Lord, God's blessings by reason of His covenant faithfulness, in fulfilment of His solemn promises, which He did to you and to your fathers.

v. 8. When Jacob was come into Egypt and your fathers cried unto the Lord, at the time of the great oppression by the Egyptians, then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, which brought forth your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. That was the first great act of God's covenant faithfulness, the deliverance out of the land of Egypt and the introduction into the Land of Promise.

v. 9. And when they forgat the Lord, their God, in deliberate unfaithfulness and defection to the covenant, He sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor, Judges 4:2, and into the hand of the Philistines, Judges 10:7; Judges 13:1, and into the hand of the king of Moab, Judges 3:12, and they fought against them.

v. 10. And they cried unto the Lord and said, We have sinned because we have forsaken the Lord, and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth, this had been their confession whenever they had come to the full realization of their helpless plight, as being due to their unfaithfulness, Judges 10:10; but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve Thee.

v. 11. And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, that is, Gideon, Judges 6:14-32, and Bedan, or Barak, Judges 4:6, and Jephthah, Judges 11:1, and Samuel, for the speaker could well mention his own name, since he was conscious of his high mission as Judge and deliverer of his people, this fact being generally recognized in Israel, 1 Samuel 3:20, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelled safe, they were living in quiet and security.

v. 12. And when ye saw that Nahash, the king of the children of Ammon, came against you, who thus had evidently made several raids against the territory of Israel before his bolder campaign against Jabesh, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us; when the Lord, your God, was your king, who had, by awaking Judges and saviors, always delivered them out of the hands of their enemies. So their demand for a king had really been a bit of foolish caprice, of sinful rejection of the Lord.

v. 13. Now, therefore, behold the king whom ye have chosen, in public, popular assembly, and whom ye have desired! And, behold, the Lord hath set a king over you. Although their demand was not in accordance with God's plans at this time, Jehovah had granted them the king whom they wanted, who was a gracious gift from His hand.

v. 14. If ye will fear the Lord, and serve Him, and obey His voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, for He was still the highest Ruler in the nation and intended to have His government acknowledged without question, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following after the Lord, your God. This is really in the nature of a most emphatic wish and prayer, that they might never cease holding to the Lord with all their hearts.

v. 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, in spite of the king in whom they were placing so overmuch confidence. The mere fact that they now had a king did not guarantee them freedom from the oppressions with which they had battled in the past, for this could be attained only by an unwavering clinging to Jehovah. The congregation of the Lord is always in need of admonitions to repentance and obedience, If faithful preachers would not continue with rebuking, admonishing, warning, and pleading, disobedience and defection would soon be prevalent everywhere.

Verses 16-25

Samuel Admonishes the People to Steadfastness

v. 16. Now, therefore, stand and see this great thing, a miracle in confirmation of Samuel's reproof and admonition, which the Lord will do before your eyes. This they were to experience at once, even now.

v. 17. Is it not wheat-harvest today, the season at which rain was most unusual? I will call unto the Lord, and He shall send thunder and rain, that ye may perceive and see, by this sign, so distinctly at variance with the ordinary weather in Canaan, that your wickedness is great which ye have done in the sight of the Lord in asking you a king.

v. 18. So Samuel called unto the Lord; and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day, as a manifestation of His anger and of His royal glory, in confirmation of Samuel's words. And all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel, they were filled with dread at this corroboration of the prophet's statements.

v. 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, a request which they now finally understood as being an insult to the Lord.

v. 20. And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not; ye have done all this wickedness, that was indeed not to be denied, and this fact was to keep them in wholesome repentance; yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart, in undivided, complete devotion;

v. 21. and turn ye not aside, after idolatrous vanities which were bound to bring harm; for then should ye go after vain things which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. The reference is to the idols which had so often been a snare to the children of Israel.

v. 22. For the Lord will not forsake His people for His great name's sake, since His own glory was at stake; because it hath pleased the Lord to make you His people, and He would be careful to guard against every blasphemy of His holy name.

v. 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. There was no personal resentment on the part of Samuel, for he wanted to continue, as heretofore, to serve them in his prophetic office, both by prayer and by instruction.

v. 24. Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth, without the slightest hypocrisy, with all your heart; for consider how great things He hath done for you. With the remembrance of His great deeds before them always, as they knew them from the history of their people, they would be urged to keep on the right way.

v. 25. But if ye shall still do wickedly, in spite of all Samuel's admonitions, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king, for the Lord on high is a King of kings and a Lord of lords. If Christians will at all times keep the great deeds of God for their salvation before their eyes, they will find it an easy matter to remain meek and humble in following the Lord's commands in His power.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 12". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/1-samuel-12.html. 1921-23.
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