|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:1-5 Samuel not only cleared his own character, but set an example before Saul, while he showed the people their ingratitude to God and to himself. There is a just debt which all men to their own good name, especially men in public stations, which is, to guard it against unjust blame and suspicions, that they may finish their course with honour, as well as with joy. And that we have in our places lived honestly, will be our comfort, under any slights and contempt that may be put upon us.
Verses 3, 4, 5. - Witness against me. Literally, "answer," as in a court of justice to the formal question of the judge. His anointed. I.e. the king (see on 1 Samuel 2:10, 35; 2:1). Whose ox,... whose ass? See on 1 Samuel 8:16. Of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? Bribe should be rendered ransom. Literally it signifies a covering, and was used of money given by a guilty person to induce the judge to close or "blind his eyes," and not see his sin. It does not mean, therefore, any bribe, but only that given to buy off a guilty person. Such persons are generally powerful men who have oppressed and wronged others; and the knowledge that they can cover their offence by sharing their gains with the judge is to this day in the East the most fruitful source of bad government. The people all bear witness to Samuel's uprightness, nor is there any contradiction between this and their desire to have a king. His internal administration was just and righteous, but they were oppressed by the nations round them, and needed a leader in war. And in Samuel's sons they had men, not vicious or licentious, but too fond of money, and so neither fit to be their generals in war nor their judges in peace. We gather from 1 Samuel 22:2 that though Saul proved a competent leader in war, he was not successful in the government of the country in peace.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Behold, here I am,.... No longer the supreme governor, but a subject, and accountable for any misdemeanour charged upon me, and to which I am ready to give answer, being now at your bar to be tried and judged before you:
witness against me before the Lord, and before his anointed; signifying, that if they had anything to lay to his charge, that they would produce it, and give proof and evidence of it in the presence of God, in whose name they met, and of Saul, anointed king, and supreme judge and ruler of the nation:
whose ox have I taken? by force to employ in his own service in ploughing his ground, or treading out his corn:
or whose ass have I taken? to ride about on in his circuit, or to carry any burden for him:
or whom have I defrauded? of their money or goods, by any artifice circumventing and cheating them:
whom have I oppressed? struck, beaten, broken, or caused to be so used wrongfully; to whose person have I been injurious any more than to their property? Some derive the word from a root which signifies favour and goodwill, and interpret it as some of the Rabbins do, of his not taking money of persons with their goodwill; or rather, that he had done nothing as a judge for favour and affection, but had acted the upright part, without regard to rich or poor, friends or foes:
or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? his meaning is, that he had never taken a gift or present from any person to favour his cause, that was to be brought before him, and give it for him right or wrong; to connive at any injury he had done, or to turn away his eyes from seeing where the justice of the cause lay; or that he had not received money to spare the life of a criminal that deserved to die; for the word used for a bribe signifies a ransom price, see Deuteronomy 16:19.
and I will restore it to you; the ox or ass, money or goods, gifts and presents, or bribes taken, or make compensation for any injury done to the persons or estates of men. Some render it, "I will answer you" (f), or give in an answer to any such charges when exhibited.
(f) "respondebo vobis", Munster.
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