Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
And Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in all that ye said unto me, and have made a king over you.Samuel's Dismissal
1 Samuel 12:12-15
Some one has said, 'In addition to other graces a good man ought to pray for is the grace to resign his office when his work is done'. Samuel was the last of the judges and prophets. He had ruled with conspicuous ability, justice, success. Under his control, it is true, the people had suffered from the attacks of the neighbouring tribes, but defeat had not been due to Samuel's holding the rein of government.
I. Samuel himself might be good, righteous, just, but the system he represented was out of date, obsolete. So they desire a king and make their desire known. He is willing to grant their request. He sees it is God's will that he should, so the king is appointed, and Samuel summons the people to meet him for a farewell address. When they come first he vindicates his character and conduct, wishes like a brave and good man to meet those who are dissatisfied. He briefly reviews the history of the past, bringing to their notice one clear fact that when they had sinned they suffered, when they repented and turned to God, were saved. And so he says it will be in the future. Do not depend upon a change of government. Whether Samuel judges or Saul reigns, if they did right, the blessing of God would be theirs.
II. That was the lesson then that in the far-off past Samuel taught. We are reminded very frequently by statesmen and others of the awful struggle against poverty, misery. We are also being constantly reminded of those who suffer in other ways owing to the stress of modern life, those, for instance, who because they are poor, have to work 'midst unwholesome surroundings and under insanitary conditions. And some of those who most frequently remind us of these things tell us that it is the competition system that is at fault; that instead of competition there should be cooperation; that socialism should be the system under which we live instead of the method of government that now obtains. The need is deep and great for reform, but whether we have a government of Samuel or Saul, whether the present system of private capital be replaced by a system of collective ownership by the State or community of all the sources and instruments of production and distribution, we shall not get rid of suffering, wrong, oppression, till we can get rid of sin.
—E. J. Miller, Christian World Pulpit, vol. LXXIV. p. 62.
References.—XII. 13.—H. Hensley Henson, Preaching to the Times, p. 33. Spurgeon, Ten Sermons, p. 80. R. Heber, Parish Sermons, vol. ii. p. 25. XII. 14.—G. Brooks, Outlines of Sermons, p. 125. XII. 19.—W. H. Hutchings, Sermon-Sketches, p. 180. XII. 20.—J. Keble, Sermons After Trinity, part i. p. 105.
God's Second Best
1 Samuel 12:23
If a man has blundered or played the fool in the management of his life, is there a second chance? God not only approves of a man's penitence, but assists it. But to see this one needs to keep in mind a process and a principle at work in the world, 'God's Second Best'.
I. Israel's First Best—In the earlier stages of its national life Israel had no king, but experienced again and again marvellous smoothings of its way by Providence, to convince the people that they were under God's care, and make it easy for them to obey Him.
II. Israel's Second Best.—The process of degeneration. The repairing process. Silently, quietly God builds up the walls they have broken down; He repairs the waste places; He creates out of the very debris of their failure a new sort of opportunity, and offers the remainder of life for reclamation and transfiguration.
III. God's Second Best in Modern Life—Men lose health through violation of nature's laws. But a repairing process is at work in our bodies—the physical expression of God's marvellous patience—and through that process a second best is offered to men.
IV. The Cross as a Second Best.—God in His loving mercy came to man in his fall from innocence, with a design of salvation and repair of which the centre was the cruel Cross—God's most terrible, amazing 'second best'—and through that Cross has been repairing human life and bringing it to sainthood. Even beyond saintship is a third experience, in which we shall have to look for the last and truest definition of the phrase 'God's Second Best'.
—G. A. Johnston Ross, Christian World Pulpit, vol. LXXV. p. 321.
References.—XII. 23.—H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Sunday Lessons for Daily Life, p. 49. J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons (9th Series), p. 333. J. Keble, Sermons Academical and Occasional, p. 127. XIII. 3.—J. M. Neale, Sermons for the Church Year, vol. i. p. 269.
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.
Behold, here I am: witness against me before the LORD, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it you.
And they said, Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man's hand.
And he said unto them, The LORD is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that ye have not found ought in my hand. And they answered, He is witness.
And Samuel said unto the people, It is the LORD that advanced Moses and Aaron, and that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt.
Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD of all the righteous acts of the LORD, which he did to you and to your fathers.
When Jacob was come into Egypt, and your fathers cried unto the LORD, then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, which brought forth your fathers out of Egypt, and made them dwell in this place.
And when they forgat the LORD their God, he sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them.
And they cried unto the LORD, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD, and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve thee.
And the LORD sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelled safe.
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.
Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the LORD hath set a king over you.
If ye will fear the LORD, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the LORD your God:
But if ye will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall the hand of the LORD be against you, as it was against your fathers.
Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the LORD will do before your eyes.
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 great, which ye have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king.
So Samuel called unto the LORD; and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.
And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.
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;
And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain.
For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.
Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:
Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.
But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.