1 Samuel 12:20
And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart;
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(20) Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness.—A very great and precious evangelical truth is contained in these comforting words of the great and good seer. They show how deeply this eminent servant of the Most High had entered into the Eternal thought. No sin or course of sin was too great to be repented of. Afar off these true ministers of the Lord saw, though, perhaps, “in a glass’ darkly,” the Lamb of God, whose blood cleanseth from all sin. Isaiah often pressed home the same truth to the sinning Israel of his own day in such terms as, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow;” and Samuel’s words—bidding the people, in spite of the guilty past, yet press on, following the Lord and serving Him with all the heart—were taken up by Samuel’s prophet-successors, and repeated in coming ages again and again in such moving exhortations as, “O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God” (Hosea 14:1). They were re-echoed by men like Paul, who, with stirring loving words, bade their hearers, forgetting all the things that were behind, their past guilt and failure, press on still fearlessly for the real prize of life.

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.

Fear not, to wit, with a servile and desponding fear, as if there were no hope left for you.

And Samuel said unto the people, fear not,.... Being destroyed by the tempest:

ye have done all this wickedness; in asking a king; that is, though they were guilty of so heinous a sin, yet there were grace and mercy with God, and they should not despair of it, so be it that they did not depart from him, but cordially served him; the Targum is,"ye have been the cause of all this evil;''the storm of thunder and rain; and though they had, he would not have them despond or indulge slavish fear:

yet turn not aside from following the Lord; the worship of the Lord, as the Targum; provided they did not depart from the Lord, and forsake his worship, word, and ordinances, they need not fear utter ruin and destruction, though they had been guilty of this sin:

but serve the Lord with all your heart; if their service of God was kept up, and was hearty and sincere, they might still expect things would go well with them.

And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: {m} yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart;

(m) He shows that there is no sin so great, but it shall be forgiven, if the sinner turn again to God.

Verse 20. - Ye have done all this wickedness. The ye is emphatic, and to give its force we should translate, "Ye have indeed done all this evil." From following Jehovah. See on ver. 15. 1 Samuel 12:20Samuel thereupon announced to them first of all, that the Lord would not forsake His people for His great name's sake, if they would only serve Him with uprightness. In order, however, to give no encouragement to any false trust in the covenant faithfulness of the Lord, after the comforting words, "Fear not," he told them again very decidedly that they had done wrong, but that now they were not to turn away from the Lord, but to serve Him with all their heart, and not go after vain idols. To strengthen this admonition, he repeats the תּסוּרוּ לא in 1 Samuel 12:21, with the explanation, that in turning from the Lord they would fall away to idols, which could not bring them either help or deliverance. To the כּי after תּסוּרוּ the same verb must be supplied from the context: "Do not turn aside (from the Lord), for (ye turn aside) after that which is vain." התּהוּ, the vain, worthless thing, signifies the false gods. This will explain the construction with a plural: "which do not profit and do not save, because they are emptiness" (tohu), i.e., worthless beings (elilim, Leviticus 19:4; cf. Isaiah 44:9 and Jeremiah 16:19).
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