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This Chapter contains the address to Samuel, on the resignation of his government, now Saul is king. He appeals to him concerning , his own integrity, in the administration of justice; brings the people to the acknowledgment of it: points out, yet once again, their sin and folly in the insisting upon a king: at the call of Samuel the Lord answers, in confirmation of what he had said of their sin and his rectitude, in sending thunder; and the chapter concludes with Samuel's assurances, that if the people obeyed the Lord, both they and their king should be preserved.
(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. (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.
There is somewhat wonderfully affecting in the last address of departing persons, even in the commonest circumstances of life. But eminently more so in faithful ministers. Farewell discourses are generally very striking. Samuel had been called of God, from a very child, to minister unto the Lord's people; and now he was grown old among them. It is as if he had said, by this preface, I pray to be heard, before that I take my leave of you forever.
(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.
His discourse is not by way of self-justification, to meet their applause. But to take off all possible censure. What a beautiful example, in a yet higher point of view, doth the apostle Paul give of himself before the church of Ephesus, in the close of his ministry, when he saith, I am pure from the blood of all men, for I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Acts 20:26-27 . Reader! if you consider the vast, and arduous charge of the ministry, you will enter with a proper earnestness and warmth, into a suitable apprehension of these things. And then the appeal of Samuel, will strike your mind with its full importance.
(4) And they said, Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man's hand.
The answer of Israel is highly gratifying, in testimony to the character of Samuel, though it be only of the negative kind; not in giving him applause, but in doing him justice.
(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.
It was well that the people could not condemn him, but Samuel was more highly gratified, that he had a record on high. Reader! it is blessed, when in spiritual concerns we can appeal, like Paul, and say, God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit, in the gospel of his Son. Romans 1:9 .
(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. (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.
We may consider this discourse of the prophet, as a beautiful example of ancient preaching. He takes up the subject from its beginning, and pints out the divine hand, as the Founder of every blessing. Nothing can be more sweet in our holy gospel, than when we trace the whole plan of redemption, with all its eventual happy consequences, back to its source in the everlasting love of God; and discover free grace, in its rise out of the spring of infinite mercy. It is sweet and precious on many accounts. Sweet and precious, in that it manifests the unchangeable purposes of God in Christ Jesus. Sweet also, in the assurance, that a dispensation so founded in infinite wisdom and mercy, must have made every suitable provision for it, in all its consequences. And sweet, and precious also, in that, all the future events of it are equally, and securely provided for. Think of this, reader, whenever doubts or misgivings arise in your mind.
(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. (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. (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. (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. (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. (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. (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: (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.
These verses form the great outlines of Israel's history, from the deliverance out of Egypt, to the hour of Samuel's address on this occasion. The design of this discourse was, to show God's unceasing goodness, and Israel's continual disobedience. I detain the reader just to remark, that the Bedan here noticed in Samuel's discourse, is not mentioned before in the history of Israel. It should seem from his being placed, in the relation, between Jerubbual and Jephthah, that it must have been some one of Israel's deliverers, who lived between the periods of these men. Some have thought it was Jair. See Judges 10:3 . But we may, at least, derive this instruction from the silence, which the Holy Ghost hath been pleased to observe, respecting this man, that many precious servants of the Lord, no doubt, will be found at the last day, whose memories have not been recorded with public notice. Many a sweet flower blooms, and sheds its fragrance on the mountain, unnoticed by every eye, but His, by whom it is formed.
(16) ¶ Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the LORD will do before your eyes. (17) Is it not wheat harvest today? 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. (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. (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.
We ought to remark the great power of prayer, in this instance of Samuel. What an astonishing degree of faith had the Lord bestowed upon this man! And what cannot faith do, when the eye of the soul is looking stedfastly unto Jesus? Remember, what Christ himself saith of it: If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. John 15:7 .
(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; (21) And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. (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. (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: (24) Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. (25) But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.
How encouraging the sermon ends. Amidst all the unworthiness of the people, the Lord's grace still reigns; for his mercy endureth forever. But is not Samuel here, a type of Jesus? In all the intercessions of the priests, or prophets of God, do we not view him, whom they shadow forth? Blessed Jesus! here I behold, as in numberless other instances, how thy Priesthood is an everlasting priesthood, and how the efficacy of it hath been, and still is, always prevailing. Though like Israel, I have sinned against thee, and slighted thy government, and too often made to myself a king of my own, to reign over me; yet dearest Lord! cease not to exercise that most precious, and glorious office of thine, for my soul. Oh! save me to the uttermost, seeing thou ever livest to make intercession for sinners!
READER! let us not too hastily pass over this chapter, without taking with us the several very interesting instructions it affords.
In this address of the prophet, dismissed, as he evidently was, by the people, we behold how pleasant a thing it is, in the close of any labours, to be able to make an appeal to God, for the rectitude of our proceedings. And while we are enabled to challenge the tongue of calumny, to be yet more refreshed, in the consciousness, that our record is on high.
In the beautiful recapitulation, which the man of God makes in his sermon of Israel's history, by way of calling up the remembrance of the people, both to divine mercies, and their unworthiness, we ought to learn the preciousness of faith, in referring all our blessings, while we review them, into the grace, and mercy, and loving kindness of our God. Faith finds great strength in such reviews, for future occasions. And I would desire the reader, not to overlook this instruction from it, while I pray, that my own mind may be refreshed in the thought; that the best method to seek strength for confidence in Jesus, for future blessings, is to make remembrance at the throne of what are past. Looking up to the great Author, and Finisher of faith, for suited strength for our day, we certainly take the most effectual means to trust him for what is to come, when we tell him of what he hath done before. And by giving him the glory of what we have received, to rely upon him for what we need.
But principally, as an improvement from the perusal of this chapter, in the call of Samuel to the Lord, and the Lord's answer, in a way contrary to the usual manner of things; let the Reader behold in the Prophet the type of his Master. Yes! blessed Jesus! I would desire grace, upon the humblest and slightest occasions, as well as the highest and the greatest, to discover somewhat of These. Do I not know, dearest Lord, that all intercourse with heaven can only be opened by Thee? No prophet, no patriarch, no apostle, no angel of light, could have procured for our fallen nature, this blessing. Heaven must have been forever inaccessible, hadst thou not opened that new, and that living way, by thy blood! Convinced therefore, of this most precious, and soul-reviving truth, oh! let me learn to prize the unspeakable mercy; delight myself in seeking constant communion, and intercourse with my God and Father, in Christ Jesus; and like Samuel, learn to be looking out for such manifestations of thy grace, and glory, as may be contrary to the usual plan of ordinary events; that at an evening time, if needful, it may be light.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 12". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany