|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:16-25 At Samuel's word, God sent thunder and rain, at a season of the year when, in that country, the like was not seen. This was to convince them they had done wickedly in asking a king; not only by its coming at an unusual time, in wheat harvest, and on a clear day, but by the prophet's giving notice of it before. He showed their folly in desiring a king to save them, rather than God, or Samuel; promising themselves more from an arm of flesh, than from the arm of God, or from the power of prayer. Could their prince command such forces as the prophet could do by his prayers? It startled them very much. Some will not be brought to see their sins by any gentler methods than storms and thunders. They entreat Samuel to pray for them. Now they see their need of him whom shortly before they slighted. Thus many who will not have Christ to reign over them, would yet be glad to have him intercede for them, to turn away the wrath of God. Samuel aims to confirm the people in their religion. Whatever we make a god of, we shall find it deceive us. Creatures in their own places are good; but when put in God's place, they are vain things. We sin if we restrain prayer, and in particular if we cease praying for the church. They only asked him to pray for them; but he promises to do more, to teach them. He urges that they were bound in gratitude to serve God, considering what great things he had done for them; and that they were bound in interest to serve him, considering what he would do against them, if they should still do wickedly. Thus, as a faithful watchman, he gave them warning, and so delivered his own soul. If we consider what great things the Lord hath done for us, especially in the great work of redemption, we can neither want motive, encouragement, nor assistance in serving him.
Verse 17. - Wheat harvest. Barley was fit for reaping at the Passover, and wheat at Pentecost, i.e. between the middle of May and the middle of June. Jerome, on Amos 4:7, testifies that during his long residence in Palestine he had never seen rain there during June and July; but Conder ('Handbook of Bible,' p. 221), says, "Storms still occur occasionally in harvest time." He shall send thunder. Hebrew, voices, and so in ver. 18 (see 1 Samuel 2:10; 1 Samuel 7:9). DIVINE TESTIMONY TO SAMUEL'S INTEGRITY (vers. 18-25).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Is it not wheat harvest today?.... Of the time of wheat harvest; see Gill on 1 Samuel 6:13. Rain usually fell in Judea only twice a year, called the former and the latter rain; and from the seventeenth of Nisan or March, to the sixteenth of Marchesvan or October, it was not usual for rain to fall, and so not in harvest, at that time especially, see Proverbs 26:1. R. Joseph Kimchi says, in the land of Israel rain never fell all the days of harvest; and this is confirmed by Jerom, who lived long in those parts; who says (o), at the end of the month of June, and in the month of July, we never saw rain in those provinces, especially in Judea. And Samuel not only by putting this question would have them observe that it was the time of wheat harvest in general, but on that day in particular the men, were at work in the fields reaping the wheat, &c. and so was not cloudy, and inclining to rain, but all serene and clear, or otherwise they would not have been employed in cutting down the corn; all which made the following case the more remarkable:
I will call unto the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain; in a miraculous and preternatural way, there being nothing in nature preparatory thereunto, and this purely at the prayer of Samuel:
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; was attended with aggravated circumstances, and highly offensive to God, though he had gratified them in it, of which this violent storm would be an indication, and might serve to convince them of their folly, as well as of their wickedness, and that they had no need of a king, since Samuel their judge could do as much or more by his prayers than a king could do by his sword; and of which they had had sufficient proof before this, and that in the same way, 1 Samuel 7:10.
(o) Comment. in Amos iv. 7.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
1Sa 12:17-25. He Terrifies Them with Thunder in Harvest-time.
17-25. Is it not wheat harvest to-day?—That season in Palestine occurs at the end of June or beginning of July, 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 of the 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, implored the prophet to pray for them. 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.
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