1 Samuel 12

CHAPTER XII

Samuel, grown old, testifies his integrity before the people,

which they confirm, 1-5.

He reproves them for their ingratitude and disobedience; and

gives a summary of the history of their fathers, 6-12.

He exhorts them to future obedience, and calls for a sign from

heaven to confirm his authority, and to show them their

disobedience: God sends an extraordinary thunder and rain,

13-19.

He warns them against idolatry, and exhorts to obedience, and

promises to intercede for them, 20-23.

Sums up their duty, and concludes with a solemn warning, 24, 25.

NOTES ON CHAP. XII

Verse 1. And Samuel said] It is very likely that it was at this

public meeting Samuel delivered the following address; no other

time seems to be given for it, and this is the most proper that

could be chosen.

Verse 2. My sons are with you] It is generally agreed that these

words intimate that Samuel had deprived them of their public

employ, and reduced them to a level with the common people.

Have walked before you from my childhood] He had been a long,

steady, and immaculate servant of the public.

Verse 3. Witness against me] Did ever a minister of state, in

any part of the world, resign his office with so much

self-consciousness of integrity, backed with the universal

approbation of the public? No man was oppressed under his

government, no man defrauded! He had accumulated no riches for

himself; he had procured none for his friends; nor had one needy

dependant been provided for out of the public purse. He might have

pardoned his own sons, who had acted improperly, before he quitted

the government; but though he was the most tender of parents, he

would not, but abandoned them to national justice, with only a

tacit solicitation of mercy: Behold, my sons are with you! They

have acted improperly; I deprived them of their authority; they

are amenable to you for their past conduct; I have walked

uprightly and disinterestedly among you; they have not followed my

steps: but can you forgive them for their father's sake? As a

minister of justice, he abandons them to their fate; as a tender

father, he indirectly and modestly pleads for them on the ground

of his own services. Had he not acted thus in both these

relations, he would have been unworthy of that character which he

so deservedly bears.

Verse 4. They said, Thou hast not defrauded] Of what minister or

governor can any nation under heaven say such things?

Verse 7. Now therefore stand still] I have arraigned myself

before God and you; I now arraign you before God.

Verse 8. The Lord sent Moses and Aaron] He shows them that

through all their history God had ever raised them up deliverers,

when their necessities required such interference.

Verse 9. The hand of Sisera] See these transactions in the book

of Judges, as marked in the margin; and see the notes on those

passages.

Verse 11. Jerubbaal] That is, Gideon. And Bedan: instead of

Bedan, whose name occurs nowhere else as a judge or deliverer of

Israel, the Septuagint have Barak; the same reading is found in

the Syriac and Arabic. The Targum has Samson. Many commentators

are of this opinion; but Calmet thinks that Jair is intended, who

judged Israel twenty-two years, Jud 10:3.

Instead of Samuel the Syriac and Arabic have Samson; and

it is most natural to suppose that Samuel does not mention himself

in this place. St. Paul's authority confirms these alterations:

The time would fail me, says he, to tell of Gideon, of Barak, of

Samson, of Jephthah, of David, &c.

Verse 12. When ye saw that Nahash] This was not the first time

they had demanded a king; see before, 1Sa 8:5. But at the crisis

mentioned here they became more importunate; and it was in

consequence of this that the kingdom was a second time confirmed

to Saul. Saul was elected at Mizpeh, he was confirmed at

Gilgal.

Verse 14. If ye will fear the Lord, &c.] On condition that ye

rebel no more, God will take you and your king under his merciful

protection, and he and his kingdom shall be confirmed and

continued.

Verse 16. This great thing] This unusual occurrence.

Verse 17. Is it not wheat harvest to-day?] That is, This is the

time of wheat harvest. According to St. Jerome, who spent

several years in the promised land, this harvest commenced about

the end of June or beginning of July, in which he says he never

saw rain in Judea: Nunquam enim in fine mensis Junii, sive in

mense Julio, in his provinciis, maximeque in Judea, pluvias

vidimus.-HIER. in Am 4:7; where he refers to this very history.

What occurred now hardly ever occurs there but in the winter

months.

Verse 18. The Lord sent thunder and rain that day] This was

totally unusual; and, as it came at the call of Samuel, was a most

evident miracle.

Greatly feared the Lord] They dreaded His terrible majesty; and

they feared Samuel, perceiving that he had so much power with

God.

Verse 19. Pray for thy servants-that we die not] As they knew

they had rebelled against God, they saw that they had every thing

to fear from his justice and power.

We have added unto all our sins this evil] It is no sin to have

a king; a good king is one of the greatest blessings of God's

providence; but it is a sin to put a man in the place of God. Is

it not strange that they did not now attempt to repair their

fault? They might have done it, but they did not; they

acknowledged their sin, but did not put it away. This is the

general way of mankind. "God help us, we are all sinners!" is the

general language of all people: but though to be a sinner is to be

in the most solemn and awful circumstances, yet they are contented

to bear the character, heedless of the consequences!

Verse 20. Ye have done all this wickedness] That is, although ye

have done all this wickedness: what was past God would pass by,

provided they would be obedient in future.

Verse 21. After vain things] That is, idols; which he calls here

hattohu, the same expression found Ge 1:2.

The earth was tohu; it was waste, empty, and formless:

so idols; they are confusion, and things of naught, for an idol is

nothing in the world-it is not the representative of any

intelligent being.

Verse 22. The Lord will not forsake his people] He will not as

yet cast you off, though you have deserved it. His purpose in

preserving them in their land and religion was not yet

accomplished. It was not however for their sake that he would not

cast them off, but for his own great name's sake. He drew his

reasons from himself.

Verse 23. God forbid that I should sin] They had earnestly

begged him, 1Sa 12:19, to pray to God for them, that they might

not die; and he tells them that he should consider himself a

sinner, should he cease to be their intercessor.

But I will teach you the good and the right way] I will show

you, as long as I am with you, what true religion is; it is the

way to happiness and heaven. It is right-there is no

crookedness in it; it is good-there is no evil in it.

Verse 24. Only fear the Lord] Know, respect, and reverence

him.

Serve him] Consider him your Lord and Master; consider

yourselves his servants.

In truth] Be ever honest, ever sincere; with all your heart-have

every affection engaged in the work of obedience; act not merely

from a principle of duty, but also from a pious, affectionate

sense of obligation. Act towards your God as an affectionate child

should act towards a tender and loving parent.

Consider how great things] Review the history of your fathers,

review your own life; see what interpositions of power, mercy,

goodness, and truth, God has displayed in your behalf! Has he not

daily loaded you with his benefits?

Verse 25. Ye shall be consumed] If ye do wickedly you shall be

destroyed, your kingdom destroyed, and your king destroyed. Here

they had set before them life and good, death and evil. Never was

a people more fully warned, and never did a people profit less by

the warning; and they continue to this day monuments of God's

justice and forbearance. Reader, What art thou? Perhaps a similar

monument. Consider therefore what great things God has done for

thee.

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