|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 23. - God forbid, Hebrew, "Far be it from me." That I should sin... in ceasing to pray for you. In no character of the Old Testament does this duty of intercessory prayer stand forward so prominently as in Samuel (see ver. 19); nor does he rest content with this, but adds, I will teach you the good and the right way. This was a far higher office than that of ruler; and not only was Samuel earnest in discharging this prophetic office of teaching, but he made provision for a supply of teachers and preachers for all future time by founding the schools of the prophets.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Moreover, as for me,.... As he had given them reason to believe that God would forgive their sin, by which they had offended him, rejecting him as their King, so he likewise forgave their offence against him in rejecting him as their governor under him, and so neither need fear the Lord nor him with a servile fear; and as God would still be gracious to them, if they abode by his service, so he, Samuel, would do all the good offices for them that lay in his power:
God forbid that I should sin against the Lord, in ceasing to pray for you; for since they had returned to the Lord, and acknowledged their sin, it would have been an evil in him not to pray for them, that they might share in the pardoning grace and mercy of God, and have all good things bestowed upon them they stood in need of; this he judged to be his duty to do, and therefore abhorred the thought of being indifferent to it, negligent of it, or of dropping it:
but I will teach you the good and the right way; would not only pray for them, but instruct them in the way of their duty; a way that was a good one, agreeable to the will and word of God, and in walking in which good things were enjoyed, and which being a good way, must needs be a right way; though Samuel ceased to be a judge and chief magistrate among them, he should not cease to act the part of a prophet to them, both by his prayers and by his instructions.
1 Samuel 12:23 Parallel Commentaries
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