1 Samuel 12:2
And now, behold, the king walketh before you: and I am old and grayheaded; and, behold, my sons are with you: and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(2) And now, behold, the king walketh before you.—No doubt, here pointing to Saul by his side. The term “walketh before you implied generally that the kingly office included the guiding and governing the people, as well as the especial duty of leading them in war; from henceforth they must accept his authority on all occasions, not merely in great emergencies. Both king and people must understand that the days when Saul could quietly betake himself to his old pursuits on the farm of the Ephraim hills were now past for ever. He must lead, and they must follow. The metaphor is taken from the usual place of a shepherd in the East, where he goes before his flock. Compare the words of our Lord, who uses the same image of a shepherd walking before his sheep (John 10:27): “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

And I am old and grayheaded.—Here the prophet, with some pathos, refers to the elders’ own words at Ramah (chap 8:5). Yes, said the seer, I am old—grown grey in your service; listen to me while I ask you what manner of service that has been. Can any one find in it a flaw? has it not been pure and disinterested throughout?

My sons are with you.—Yes, old indeed, for my offspring are numbered now among the grown men of the people. Possibly, however, a tinge of mortified feeling at the rejection of himself and his family, mixed with a desire to recommend his sons to the favour and goodwill of the nation, is at the bottom of this mention of them.—Speaker’s Commentary. It is evident that these sons, whose conduct as Samuel’s deputies had excited the severest criticism on the part of the elders (1Samuel 8:5), had been reduced—with the full consent, of course, of their father, who up to this period exercised evidently supreme power in all the coasts of Israel—to the condition of mere private citizens.

From my childhood unto this day.—Samuel’s life had in truth been constantly before the public observation from very early days; well known to all were the details of his career—his early consecration under peculiar and exceptional circumstances to the sanctuary service, the fact of the “word of the Lord” coming directly to him when still a boy, his recognition by the people directly afterwards as a prophet, then his restless, unwearied work during the dark days which followed the fall of Shiloh. It was indeed a public life. He would have Israel, now they had virtually rejected his rule, think over that long busy life of his for a moment, and then pronounce a judgment on it.

1 Samuel 12:2. The king walketh before you — Ruleth over you. To him I have fully resigned my power, and own myself one of his subjects. I am old — And therefore unable to bear the burden of government. My sons are with you — Or, among you, in the same state, private persons, as you are; if they have injured any of you, the law is now open against them; any of you may accuse them, your king can punish them, I do not intercede for them. Walked before you — That is, been your guide and governor; partly, as a prophet; and partly, as a judge.

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.My sons are with you - Possibly, however, a tinge of mortified feeling at the rejection of himself and his family, mixed with a desire to recommend his sons to the favor and goodwill of the nation, is at the bottom of this mention of them. CHAPTER 12

1Sa 12:1-5. Samuel Testifies his Integrity.

1-4. Samuel said unto all Israel—This public address was made after the solemn re-instalment of Saul, and before the convention at Gilgal separated. Samuel, having challenged a review of his public life, received a unanimous testimony to the unsullied honor of his personal character, as well as the justice and integrity of his public administration.

Walketh before you; goeth out and cometh in before you, i.e. ruleth over you, as that phrase signifies, Numbers 27:17 Deu 31:2 2 Chronicles 1:10. To him I have fully resigned all my power and authority, and do hereby renounce it, and own myself for a private person, and one of his subjects.

I am old and gray-headed; and therefore unable to bear the burden of government, and feel myself greatly at ease to see it cast upon other shoulders; and therefore do not speak what I am about to say from envy of Saul’s advancement, or from discontent at the diminution of my own power.

My sons are with you, or among you, in the same stake and place, private persons, as you are; if they have injured any of you in their government, as you once complained, the law is now open against them; any of you may accuse them, your king can punish them; I do not intercede for them, I have neither power nor will to keep them from receiving the just fruits of their misdemeanours.

I have walked before you, i.e. been your guide and governor, partly as a prophet, and partly as a judge.

And now, behold, the king walketh before you,.... He invested with his office, and in the exercise of it, and goes in and out as the captain, commander, and leader of the people; it is expressive of his being in the full possession of regal power and authority, and therefore Samuel might speak the more freely, as he could not be thought to have any hope and expectation of being reinstated in his government, or to have parted with it with any regret; and he wisely took this opportunity of reproving the people for their sin of desiring a king, when Saul was settled and established in his kingdom, and when they were in the midst of all their mirth and jollity, who might, from the success that had attended this first adventure of their king, conclude that they had done a right and good thing in requesting to have one:

and I am old, and grey headed; and so unfit for government, and very willing to be eased of the burden of it: he must surely be more than fifty two years of age, as the Jews generally say he was, since it is not usual at such an age to be grey headed; see Gill on 1 Samuel 8:1; however, on this account he merited reverence and respect, and demanded attention:

and, behold, my sons are with you; as private persons in the condition of subjects, making no pretension to government; and if they had committed anything criminal, they were open to the law, and might be charged, and tried, and treated according to their deserts; and there they were, and might be asked what questions they thought proper with respect to what they knew of his conduct; and to be hostages or bail for him, if they could prove anything against him; or to be taken to make satisfaction for any injuries committed by him:

and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day; his manner of and conversation from his infancy to this time was well known to them, and he had spent all his days in the service of God, and for the good of Israel.

And now, behold, the king walketh {b} before you: and I am old and grayheaded; and, behold, my sons are with you: and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day.

(b) To govern you in peace and war.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. the king walketh before you] Goes in and out in your presence in the exercise of his regal authority.

and I am old and gray-headed; and, behold my sons are with you] Samuel refers to the two reasons alleged by the elders in ch. 1 Samuel 8:5 for asking a king, (a) his own age, (b) the misgovernment of his sons. He mentions the first expressly, but with the natural reluctance of a father to dwell upon his sons’ misconduct, only hints at the second. The Hebrew conjunction “and” here as often introduces the reason, and may be translated by “for” or “seeing that.”

from my childhood] “From my youth,” as the word is rendered everywhere else in the E. V. Samuel’s public life may be said to have commenced when God first spoke to him in Shiloh (1 Samuel 3:11), so that they had had full opportunity of knowing him from the first.

Verse 2. - The king walketh before you. I.e. you have now one to protect and lead the nation, whereas my business was to raise its religious and moral life. The metaphor is taken from the position of the shepherd in the East, where he goes before his flock to guide and guard them. On this account the word shepherd or pastor is used in the Bible of the temporal ruler (Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 23:4, etc.), and not, as with us, of the spiritual guide. My sons are with you. This is no mere confirmation of the fact just stated that he was old, but a direct challenge of their dissatisfaction with his sons' conduct, as far at least as concerns any connivance on his part, or support of them in their covetousness. Samuel says, You know all about my sons; I do not profess to be ignorant that charges have been brought against them. Give full weight to them, and to everything said against them and me, and then give judgment. 1 Samuel 12:2Samuel starts with the fact, that he had given the people a king in accordance with their own desire, who would now walk before them. הנּה with the participle expresses what is happening, and will happen still. לפני התהלּך must not be restricted to going at the head in war, but signifies the general direction and government of the nation, which had been in the hands of Samuel as judge before the election of Saul as king. "And I have grown old and grey (שׂבתּי from שׂיב); and my sons, behold, they are with you." With this allusion to his sons, Samuel simply intended to confirm what he had said about his own age. By the further remark, "and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day," he prepares the way for the following appeal to the people to bear witness concerning his conduct in office.
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