1 Samuel 12:17
Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call to the LORD, and he shall send thunder and rain; that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king.
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(17) Is it not wheat harvest day?—The Canaan wheat harvest is between the middle of May and the middle of June. Rain in that season seldom or never falls, but if it does it is usually severe. This is the testimony of one who spoke as a resident, and his statement is confirmed by the observations of the latest travellers and scholars. The terrible storm of rain accompanied with thunder, at a time of year when these storms of thunder and rain rarely took place, coming, as it did, in direct answer to the seer’s invocation, struck the people naturally with great fear, and for the moment they thoroughly repented of the past, and entreated Samuel—who, they felt, stood on strangely familiar terms with that awful yet loving Eternal—to intercede for them.

1 Samuel 12:17. Is it not wheat-harvest to-day? — At which time it was a rare thing in those parts to have thunder or rain; the weather being more constant in its seasons than it is with us, and the rain being wont to fall periodically, only in the autumn and the spring, called the former and latter rain. He shall send thunder and rain — That you may understand that God is displeased with you, and see how foolishly and wickedly you have acted, in rejecting the government of that God at whose command are all things, both in heaven and in earth.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.Wheat harvest - Between May 15 and June 15. Jerome's testimony (that of an eye-witness) "I have never seen rain in the end of June, or in July, in Judaea" is borne out by modern travelers. 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.

At wheat harvest it was a rare thing in those parts to have thunder or rain, as the Scripture oft implies; and St. Jerome affirms, who was an eye-witness of it; the weather being more constant and certain in its seasons there, and in divers other parts, than it is with us who live in islands, as all travellers inform us.

He shall send thunder and rain; that by this unseasonable and pernicious storm you may understand that God is displeased with you; and also how foolishly and wickedly you have done in rejecting the government of that God, at whose command are all things, both in heaven and in earth. 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.

Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call unto the LORD, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is {k} great, which ye have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king.

(k) In that you have forsaken him, who has all power in his hand, for a mortal man.

17. he shall send thunder and rain] “In ordinary seasons from the cessation of the showers in spring [about the end of April] until their commencement in October or November, rain never falls, and the sky is usually serene.” Robinson, Bibl. Res. I. 430. Wheat harvest was in May and June. See note on 1 Samuel 6:13. “Rain in harvest” served as a figure for what was unseemly and anomalous (Proverbs 26:1).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). The 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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