1 Samuel 12:12
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.
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(12) Nahash the king of the children of Ammon.—It has been suggested, with great probability, that Nahash and the Ammonites had invaded the trans-Jordanic territory of Israel in the period immediately preceding the demand addressed to Samuel for a king, and that the invasion which culminated in the siege of Jabesh-gilead was only one of a series of destructive forays and invasions.

1 Samuel 12:12. When ye saw that Nahash came against you, &c. — From this it appears that Nahash had levied war against them some time before he came against Jabesh-gilead, as mentioned in the foregoing chapter; and that they took occasion from thence to demand a king, as being fearful and impatient of staying till God should raise them up a deliverer, or command Samuel, who was their judge, to go out to fight against him. When the Lord your God was your king — That is, when God was your immediate king and governor, who was both able and willing to deliver you, if you had cried to him, whereof you and your ancestors have had plentiful experience; so that you did not at all need any other king; and your desire of another was a manifest reproach against God.

12:6-15 The work of ministers is to reason with people; not only to exhort and direct, but to persuade, to convince men's judgments, and so to gain their wills and affections. Samuel reasons of the righteous acts of the Lord. Those who follow God faithfully, he will enable to continue following him. Disobedience would certainly be the ruin of Israel. We mistake if we think that we can escape God's justice, by trying to shake off his dominion. If we resolve that God shall not rule us, yet he will judge us.Bedan - No such name occurs among the Judges who delivered Israel. Some versions and commentators read "Barak," the form of the letters of both words being in Hebrew somewhat similar.

And Samuel - There is nothing improper or out of place in Samuel mentioning his own judgeship. It had supplied a remarkable instance of God's deliverance 1 Samuel 7:12-15; and, as it was the last as well as one of the very greatest deliverances, it was natural he should do so. The passage in Hebrews 11:32 is quite as favorable to the mention of Samuel here as to that of "Samson," which some propose to read instead of "Samuel."

11. Bedan—The Septuagint reads "Barak"; and for "Samuel" some versions read "Samson," which seems more natural than that the prophet should mention himself to the total omission of the greatest of the judges. (Compare Heb 11:32). A king shall reign over us: See Poole "1 Samuel 11:1". When the Lord your God was your king, i.e. when God was your immediate King and Governor, who was both able and willing to deliver you, if you had cried to him, whereof you and your ancestors have had plentiful experience; so that you did not at all need any other king; and your desire of another was a manifest reproach against God, as if he were either grown impotent, or unfaithful, or unmerciful to you.

And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you,.... Or "but yet" (k); however, notwithstanding though the Lord had been so kind and gracious to them, as to raise up judges one after another to deliver them, when they cried unto him, yet when they perceived that Nahash the Ammonite was preparing to make war with them, instead of applying to the Lord for his protection, they desired to have a king to go before them, and fight their battles, as follows: nay,

but a king shall reign over us; though Samuel told them they had no need of one:

when the Lord your God was your King; and would protect and defend them, if they applied to him, and would put their trust in him; and he himself Samuel was their judge, and would be their general and commander, and they had experience of success under him to the utter destruction of their enemies, 1 Samuel 7:10 and yet, notwithstanding all this, they insisted upon it to have a king. According to Abarbinel, this preparation of Nahash to war with them was after they had asked for a king, and was a punishment of them for their request; and yet they repented not of it, but in effect said, though Nahash, and all the enemies in the world come against us, we will not go back from our request, but insist on it, that we have a king to reign over us; such was their obstinacy and perverseness.

(k) "videntes autem", V. L. "sed", Tigurine version; "et tamen", Vatablus, Piscator.

And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, {g} Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king.

(g) Leaving God to seek the help of man, 1Sa 8:5.

12. And when ye saw] As the demand for a king preceded the invasion of Nahash recorded in ch. 11, the reference must be to earlier inroads, or to a threatened attack. This reason for desiring a king is hinted at in 1 Samuel 8:20.

Nay] Refusing to listen to my expostulations (1 Samuel 8:6; 1 Samuel 8:19).

when the Lord your God was your king] Cp. Jdg 8:23.

Verse 12. - Nahash the king of the children of Ammon. This makes it probable that there had been threats of war, and even incursions into the Israelite territory, by Nahash before his attack on Jabesh-Gilead. We thus, too, should be able to account for the rancour displayed in his wish so to treat the men of that town as to make them a reproach to all Israel; for his hatred of Israel may have grown in intensity in the course of a harassing war, or he may have learnt to despise a people incapable of offering a regular resistance. At all events, Samuel describes Nahash as giving the final impetus to the desire of the nation for a king. When Jehovah your God was your king. See Judges 8:23. 1 Samuel 12:12The first proof of this was furnished by the deliverance of the children of Israel out of Egypt, and their safe guidance into Canaan ("this place" is the land of Canaan). The second was to be found in the deliverance of the people out of the power of their foes, to whom the Lord had been obliged to give them up on account of their apostasy from Him, through the judges whom He had raised up for them, as often as they turned to Him with penitence and cried to Him for help. Of the hostile oppressions which overtook the Israelites during this period of the judges, the following are singled out in 1 Samuel 12:9 : (1) that by Sisera, the commander-in-chief of Hazor, i.e., that of the Canaanitish king Jabin of Hazor (Judges 4:2.); (2) that of the Philistines, by which we are to understand not so much the hostilities of that nation described in Judges 3:31, as the forty years' oppression mentioned in Judges 10:2 and Judges 13:1; and (3) the Moabitish oppression under Eglon (Judges 3:12.). The first half of Judges 13:10 agrees almost word for word with Judges 10:10, except that, according to Judges 10:6, the Ashtaroth are added to the Baalim (see at 1 Samuel 7:4 and Judges 2:13). Of the judges whom God sent to the people as deliverers, the following are named, viz., Jerubbaal (see at Judges 6:32), i.e., Gideon (Judges 6), and Bedan, and Jephthah (see Judges 11), and Samuel. There is no judge named Bedan mentioned either in the book of Judges or anywhere else. The name Bedan only occurs again in 1 Chronicles 7:17, among the descendants of Machir the Manassite: consequently some of the commentators suppose Jair of Gilead to be the judge intended. But such a supposition is perfectly arbitrary, as it is not rendered probable by any identity in the two names, and Jair is not described as having delivered Israel from any hostile oppression. Moreover, it is extremely improbable that Samuel should have mentioned a judge here, who had been passed over in the book of Judges on account of his comparative insignificance. There is also just as little ground for rendering Bedan as an appellative, e.g., the Danite (ben-Dan), as Kimchi suggests, or corpulentus as Bttcher maintains, and so connecting the name with Samson. There is no other course left, therefore, than to regard Bedan as an old copyist's error for Barak (Judges 4), as the lxx, Syriac, and Arabic have done, - a conclusion which is favoured by the circumstance that Barak was one of the most celebrated of the judges, and is placed by the side of Gideon and Jephthah in Hebrews 11:32. The Syriac, Arabic, and one Greek MS (see Kennicott in the Addenda to his Dissert. Gener.), have the name of Samson instead of Samuel. But as the lxx, Chald., and Vulg. all agree with the Hebrew text, there is no critical ground for rejecting Samuel, the more especially as the objection raised to it, viz., that Samuel would not have mentioned himself, is far too trivial to overthrow the reading supported by the most ancient versions; and the assertion made by Thenius, that Samuel does not come down to his own times until the following verse, is altogether unfounded. Samuel could very well class himself with the deliverers of Israel, for the simple reason that it was by him that the people were delivered from the forty years' tyranny of the Philistines, whilst Samson merely commenced their deliverance and did not bring it to completion. Samuel appears to have deliberately mentioned his own name along with those of the other judges who were sent by God, that he might show the people in the most striking manner (1 Samuel 12:12) that they had no reason whatever for saying to him, "Nay, but a king shall reign over us," as soon as the Ammonites invaded Gilead. "As Jehovah your God is your king," i.e., has ever proved himself to be your King by sending judges to deliver you.
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