Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
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.II. Samuel’s solemn concluding Transaction with the Assembly of the People at Gilgal
1AND Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold I have hearkened unto your voice in 2all that ye said unto me, and have made a king over you. And now, behold, the king walketh before you, and I am old and gray-headed,1 and behold, my sons [my sons, behold, they] are with you, and I have walked before you from my 3childhood unto this day. Behold, here I am. Witness against me before the Lord [Jehovah] 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 [a] bribe to blind mine eyes therewith?2 and I will 4restore it you. And they said, Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither 5hast thou taken aught of any man’s hand. And he said unto them, The Lord is [Jehovah be] witness against you, and his Anointed is [be] witness this day, that ye have not found aught in my hand. And they3 answered [said], He is witness 6[Witness be they]. And Samuel said unto the people, It is [om. it is] the Lord [Jehovah]4 that [who] advanced [appointed] Moses and Aaron, and that [who] brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt!
7Now, therefore, [And now] stand still [stand forth] that I may [and I will] reason with you before the Lord [Jehovah]5 of all the righteous acts of the Lord 8[Jehovah] which he did to you and to your fathers. When Jacob was come [came] into Egypt, and6 your fathers cried unto the Lord [Jehovah], then the Lord [Jehovah] sent Moses and Aaron, which [and they] brought forth [om. forth] 9your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. And when [om. when] they forgat the Lord [Jehovah] their God, [ins. and] he sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor,7 and into the hand of the Philistines,10and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them. And they cried unto the Lord [Jehovah] and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord [Jehovah], and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth; but [and] now 11deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve thee. And the Lord [Jehovah] sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan,8 and Jephthah, and Samuel,8 and delivered 12you 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 [Jehovah] your God was your king.
13Now, therefore, [And now] behold the king whom ye have chosen, and [om. and] whom ye have desired [demanded];9 and behold, the Lord [Jehovah] hath set a 14king over you. If ye will fear the Lord [Jehovah], and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord [Jehovah], then shall [om. then shall, ins. and] both ye and also [om. also] the king that reigneth over you [ins. will] continue following [follow] the Lord [Jehovah] your God, well.10 15But if ye will not obey the voice of the Lord [Jehovah], but rebel against the commandment of the Lord [Jehovah], then shall the hand of the Lord [Jehovah] 16be against you, as it was against your fathers.11 Now, therefore, [And now] stand 17and see this great thing, which the Lord [Jehovah] will do before your eyes. Is it not wheat harvest to-day? I will call unto the Lord [Jehovah], and he shall [will] send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive [know] and see that your wickedness is great which ye have done in the sight [eyes] of the Lord [Jehovah] 18in asking you a king. So [And] Samuel called unto the Lord [Jehovah], and the Lord [Jehovah] sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the Lord [Jehovah] and Samuel.
19And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord [Jehovah] thy God that we die not; for we have added unto all our sins this evil, 20to 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 [Jehovah], but serve 21the Lord [Jehovah] with all your heart; And turn ye not aside, for12 then should ye go [om. for then should ye go] after vain things, which cannot [do not] profit nor 22deliver, for they are vain. For the Lord [Jehovah] will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake; because it hath pleased the Lord [Jehovah] to make 23you his people. Moreover [om. moreover] as for me [ins. also], God forbid that I should [om. God forbid that I should, ins. far be it from me to] sin against the Lord [Jehovah] in ceasing to pray for you,13 but I will teach you the good and 24the [om. the] right way.14 Only fear the Lord [Jehovah] and serve him in truth with all your heart; for consider [see] how great things [how greatly] he hath 25done [wrought] for you [towards you]. But if ye shall still [om. still] do wickedly, ye shall be consumed [destroyed] both ye and your king.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1 Samuel 12:1. And Samuel said to all Israel. That the following words were really spoken by Samuel is put beyond doubt by the direct impression of historical truth which this narrative in chap. 12 makes, and by the homogeneity of the individual historical features of this picture with the historical picture given us in all that precedes. Ewald (Gesch. [History of Israel] I., 229, Rem. 2) calls this a narrative “which in its present form is inserted only for the sake of the exhortations to be put into Samuel’s mouth, and the occasional historical statements of which sound very discrepant,” against which we remark: 1) that the historical statements in this piece, as the exposition will show, do not at all contradict the foregoing historical account, and 2) that if a mere insertion had been intended here, in order to put exhortations into Samuel’s mouth, it would have been simpler to give it in the form of a monologue; that is, a continuous address of Samuel to the people.—We have here, namely, not one continuous address of Samuel, as this section is usually called, but a dialogue, a conversation or transaction with the people in the grandest style. Samuel speaks to all Israel, and they speak to him by the mouth of their elders (cf. 1 Samuel 12:3–6, 19, 20), and the longer connected declarations of the prophet (1 Samuel 12:7–17 and 20–26) are embraced by these colloquies and attached to them.—Incorrect also is the usual designation of this section as a parting-address, whereby its significance in relation to the preceding account of Saul’s public solemn presentation to the whole people as king of Israel is obscured or concealed. Samuel does not take leave of the people in order to withdraw from the scene of public life and action into the retirement of private life; he rather promises the continuance not only of his intercession for them, but also of his prophetic labors in respect to the whole people; he points expressly to the elevated position which he will assume, as “teacher of the good and right way,” hereafter, as now, towards king and people.—Further, when the whole procedure, as is common, is regarded as a solemn resignation of office by Samuel, we must call attention to the fact mentioned in 7:15, that he “judged Israel all the days of his life,” and to the vigorous interference which he repeatedly found necessary during Saul’s government. Certainly with the incoming of the kingdom, which the people desired instead of the existing judgeship (8:5, 20) in order that the king might judge the people and lead them in war, the official position which Samuel had hitherto occupied as judge in Israel, must have had an end; and this end of his proper judicial office, sole and highest Governor of Israel as he had hitherto been, is the starting-point for what he has now still to say to the people. He remains in fact what he was, the highest judge of Israel according to the will of God, under whose oversight and guidance the kingdom also stands; officially the leadership for external and internal political affairs, for which the kingdom was established, is no longer in his hands. Of a resignation of office nothing is said, but (proceeding only from the fact that the government is now given into the hands of the king, and his official government as judge has now consequently come to an end) he passes in review his previous official life as judge of the people, in order, over against the fulfilment of their desire for a king, which was a factual rejection of his official judgeship externally occasioned by the evil conduct of his sons (8:1–7), solemnly to testify and cause them to testify that he had filled his office blamelessly and righteously. On this follows (1 Samuel 12:7–12) the rebuking reference to the great deeds of the Lord, wherein in the history of His guidance of the people He had magnified Himself in them, and to the guilty relation of ingratitude and unfaithfulness in which they had placed themselves to this their God and king by the longing after an earthly king, which was a rejection of His authority over them. In 1 Samuel 12:13–18, after a solemn confirmation of the fact, that God the Lord in accordance with that desire had given them a king, in powerful words, which are accompanied and strengthened by an astounding miracle, he exhorts king and people together to the right relation, in which in faithful obedience they are to put themselves, to the will and word of the Lord. King and people are to be obedient subjects of the invisible king. Finally follows (1 Samuel 12:19–25) a word of consolation from Samuel to the people now, in consequence of this warning and hortatory address, repentantly confessing their sin in their demand for a king, in which he gently and in friendly fashion exhorts them to obedience and faithfulness towards the Lord (1 Samuel 12:20, 21), promises them the Lord’s grace and faithfulness (1 Samuel 12:22), and assures them of his continuing active fellowship with them in intercession and in instruction in the way of truth (1 Samuel 12:23), and finally with repeated exhortation and warning sets before them the blessing and good pleasure of the Lord along with a threatening reference to the punishment to be expected in case of disobedience (1 Samuel 12:24, 25).—With this fourfold division this whole dialoguic transaction of Samuel with the people connects itself immediately with what precedes, as the conclusion of the assembly of the people in Gilgal. On this connection see Thenius’ remarks. Berlenberger Bible: “Thus with this ends in solemn wise the general assembly of the people.” [Philippson (in Israel. Bib.): “This chapter is one of the finest in the book, and is a model of old-Hebrew eloquence. Words and tone speak for the high antiquity of this piece.”—TR.]
The words: See, I have hearkened to your voice in all that ye said to me correspond exactly to the words in 8:7, 21. Samuel at the same time testifies indirectly to the fact that he had therein obeyed the command of God: “Hearken to the voice of the people” (8:7, 9, 22). His listening to the voice of the people was based on the repeated divine command, and was an act of self-denying obedience to the will of the Lord.—“And I have made a king” points to 1 Samuel 12:15 a of the preceding chapter.
1 Samuel 12:2. Walketh is to be understood not merely of leading in war, but in general of the official guidance and government of the people. The “and I” introduces the contrast between the Hitherto and the Now. I am grown old and gray-headed points to the words of the elders, 8:5. As the people by the mouth of their elders there take occasion from his age to ask a king for themselves, so Samuel here refers back to it, in order not only to point out that this their demand was fulfilled, since he in fact by reason of his age could no longer hold in his hands the internal and external control of the people, but at the same time, in view of the termination of his office and the beginning of the royal rule, to give account of the righteous character of his long career. The reference to his sons as occupying official positions is not to be regarded (Thenius, Keil, et al.) as a confirmation of his age, but looking to 1 Samuel 8:1 (where it is expressly said that Samuel on account of his age had made his sons judges over Israel, that is, his assistants in the judicial office) rather as a confirmation of the declaration that this change in the government must needs have taken place by reason of his age, which had already necessitated the substitution of his sons. [It is clearly wrong to suggest (Bib. Com. in loco) that “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 good-will of the nation, is at the bottom of this mention of them.” There is no trace here of mortification or favor-seeking. Samuel stands throughout above the people, and promises his continued friendship and watch-care, while he cordially accepts the change of the government.—TR.]. What Samuel here affirms of his official career stands in direct contrast with what is said in 1 Samuel 8:3 of the blameworthy official conduct of these sons, since it is inconceivable that he did not know, and now have in mind the covetousness and perversion of judgment and the resulting discontent of the people, which was a cofactor in their desire for a royal government. The mode as well as the fact and content of the following self-justification naturally suggest the statement in 8:3, and lead to the conclusion that this was the occasion of this (otherwise surprising) justification of his official career, on which in the eyes of the people a shadow had fallen in consequence of the opposite conduct of his sons. In order that, at this important turning-point of his life and of his people’s history, there may be perfect clearness and truth in respect to his judicial career and his unselfish official bearing towards the people, and that the lightest shadow of mistrust and misunderstanding may be dispelled, he in the first place refers to his official life which lay clear and open before the eyes of the people from his youth unto this moment when he had become old and gray; for the words “I have walked before you,” like the preceding “walketh,” indicate his public official intercourse and walk.
1 Samuel 12:3. Answer against me, that is, witness against me. A formal hearing of witnesses as a judicial act is here introduced. The judicial authorities are two, a heavenly, invisible, God the Lord, the All-knowing, before whom he walked, and an earthly-human, clothed, however, with divine authority, the Anointed of the Lord, who in the name and place of God executes the royal office, which includes the judicial. Here for the first time after the establishment of the kingdom the theocratic king is called the Anointed of the Lord. Here for the first time after his installation regard is had to Saul in his royal authority and position. Before him as before the Lord, the people, in reply to Samuel’s questions put in powerful lapidary style and with grand rhetoric, must bear witness to the following: 1) That he had not covetously appropriated the property of others,—“ox and ass” represent property in a social life based on agriculture and trade, and are expressly named in the Law with the things forbidden to covet (Ex. 20:17); Samuel’s sons, on the contrary, “turned after gain,” that is, were covetous, 8:5;—2) that he had violated no man’s right and freedom by oppression and violence,—רָצַץ “defraud” is stronger than עָשַׁק “oppress;” both often occur together, as in Deut. 28:33, to express violence;—his sons “perverted judgment,” 8:3;—3) that he had not been guilty of venality in the administration of justice by receiving bribes,—kopher (כֹּפֶר) “bribe” is here not to be regarded (with Keil) as simply a payment for release from capital punishment (Ex. 21:30; Num. 35:31), but means in general a gift of money designed to buy the favor of the judge and thus escape deserved punishment. The gift was to cover the punishment [the Heb. word means primarily “cover,”—TR.], and thus as covering be an expiation: “that I might hide my eyes from him (or, with it).”15 The sons of Samuel took gifts, 1 Samuel 8:3. This was a transgression of the Law, Ex. 23:6; Deut. 27:5.—The answer of the people: that Samuel had done no wrong.
1 Samuel 12:5. Strengthening of this declaration by the participation of the people in Samuel’s invocation of the Lord and his Anointed as witness.16 Calvin: “In these words they confess their ingratitude and perfidy before Jehovah and the king, in that they had rejected the so praiseworthy government of Samuel.”
1 Samuel 12:6. Further strengthening of the testimony by repetition on Samuel’s part of the invocation of God’s witness. To “Jehovah” we must supply “witness;” there is no need to suppose that it fell out by clerical error.—Maurer: “Nothing has fallen out. Samuel repeats the name of Jehovah in order to make the transition to what follows.” “Appointed” [עשה “made,” Eng. A.V. “advanced”] refers to what they were in their God-appointed calling; they were just that for which the Lord had made them, as leaders of the people and their representatives before God.—Calvin: “The word ‘make’ is to be understood of those excellent gifts which God had bestowed on Moses and his brother Aaron, that he might use their ministry in leading the people out of Egypt.” Samuel also was made by the Lord into that which he was to be and was to the people. In taking part, now, in his invocation of God as witness to his impartiality and justice, the people gave confirmation that he had exercised his judicial authority before the Lord according to his divine calling, and that in this view therefore, there was no necessity for their demand for a king.
After (1 Samuel 12:1–6) having solemnly testified and before God and the king made them testify to the purity and spotlessness of his long official life among the people, he joins (1 Samuel 12:7–12) to the name of Jehovah, whom he has invoked as witness, the humbling reminder of the unfaithfulness of which they had been guilty in respect to this their God and Lord and His benefits by the demand for an earthly-human king. He here looks at the relation of the people to their God. The reference to Moses and Aaron as the first instruments of the Lord’s mighty deeds for His people, and His first deed, the deliverance from Egypt, forms the transition to the following enumeration of God’s might-revelations for the deliverance of His people from great dangers.
1 Samuel 12:7. Formally and solemnly the first words “and now stand forth that I may reason with you before the Lord” introduce as it were a judicial procedure (Cleric.: “I will conduct my cause, as it were, before a judge”), in which Samuel as the judge before the tribunal of the invisible king represents God’s cause over against the people, and holds up before the latter their guilt in this matter of the king.17 Ezek. 17:20. צְדָקָה [righteous deeds] never means merely “blessing, benefit, kindness,” but always contains the idea of righteousness. It indeed often actually means all that (as in Psalm 22:32; 24:5; Judg. 5:11; Prov. 10:2; 11:4) but always from the stand-point of God’s faithfulness in covenant and promise; the acts of salvation are proof of the divine righteousness, so far as they are God’s reply to man’s right conduct towards Him, or, without this, an outflow of God’s faithfulness by which He grants man the thing promised as something falling to his share. The Plu. “righteous acts,” as in Mic. 6:5, are God’s several deeds of power and grace performed for His people on the ground of His covenant-relation instituted in Abraham and through Moses. [Bib. Comm.: Samuel is here vindicating God, comp. Stephen’s speech, Acts 7].
1 Samuel 12:8. The first and greatest of the mighty deeds of the divine covenant-righteousness is the deliverance out of Egypt and introduction into the land of promise.18 In 1 Samuel 12:9 the: and they forgat the Lord their God is put as contrast to the “righteous acts” of the Lord; they answered God’s covenant-fidelity with unfaithfulness, defection. And so the oppressions of the people by foreign enemies are represented as punishments by the righteous God for their defection. He sold them into the hand, etc., indicates the just retribution of their forgetting Him. When His people abandon Him, He, by virtue of the same righteousness which blesses them if they are faithful, abandons them to their enemies, who enslave and oppress them. The “selling” refers to the right of the father to sell his children as slaves, here exercised by God as the extremest paternal right, as it were (Judg. 2:14; 3:8; 4:2, 9; Deut. 32:10; Isa. 50:1; 52:3; Ezek. 30:12). [It is also the right of the king to sell his subjects, and of God to dispose of His creatures.—TR.].—In proof of this punitive justice of God Samuel adduces individual facts from the time of the Judges on, but only “prominent events, as they occurred to him … neglecting the order of events and of times, which was here unessential” (Cleric). [Poole’s Synopsis: Notice here Samuel’s prudence in reproof: 1) by his reproof of their ancestors he prepares their minds to receive reproof; 2) he shows that their ingratitude is old and so worse, and they should take care that it grow no stronger; 3) he chooses a very mild word, “forget,” to express their offence.—TR.].—Hazor was the capital city of the Canaanites, where dwelt king Jabin whom Joshua smote, Josh. 11:1, 10–13; 12:19. In the time of the Judges Hazor again appears as the residence of a Canaanitish king Jabin (Judg. 4:2 sq.), instead of whom, however, the there-mentioned captain Sisera is here named, because he commanded the army which then oppressed Israel. The Sept. insertion of “Jabin king of” after “host of,” is evidently a mere explanation.—Into the hand of the Philistines, see Judg. 3:31, where the attacks of this people are first mentioned. [See also Judg. 13:1.—TR.].—Into the hand of the king of Moab, that is, Eglon (Judg. 3:12).—These three nations represent, as the most prominent, all the heathen nations into whose hands God gave His people. Samuel mentions them, looking to the beginnings of the sufferings and wars of the Period of the Judges, in respect to which in the Book of Judges also (1 Samuel 3) the “he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about” (1 Samuel 12:14) and “they forgat the Lord” are introduced (as here by Samuel) as correlatives.
1 Samuel 12:10. The repentant conversion of the people. And they cried to the Lord (comp. Judg. 2:18; 3:9, 15; 4:3), that is, the lamentation over their misery directed to the Lord. The following: we have sinned is their self-accusation on account of their defection from God; the sin is twofold, forsaking the Lord and serving idols. The same accusation is found literally in Judg. 10:40, only that here, as in Judg. 2:13 and 10:6, Ashtaroth is added to Baalim. Baal is the general designation of the divinity among the Phenicians and Carthaginians; with the Art. it is the male chief deity of the Phenicians; the Plu. refers to the numerous individualizations of this deity. P. Cassel [in Lange’s Biblework] on Judg. 2:13: “The various cities and tribes had their special Baals, which were named not always from the cities, but from various natural qualities worshipped in them. This is like the various attributes from which Zeus received various names and worships in Greece.” On Baal-cultus among the Israelites see Winer, B. R.-W. s. v. I., 118. Ashtaroth is the designation of the Phenician and Carthaginian female chief deity (along with Baal) which was also worshipped by the Philistines (1 Sam. 31:10); the Plu. refers to the number of the stars, which she as queen of heaven represents (Jer. 7:18; 44:17 sq.); for the Sing. Ashtoreth=Astarte (Grk.) has the same root as star [Germ. stern], ἀστήρ, stella, in Pers. Astara (on the Upper Asiatic origin of this word see J. G. Müller s. v. in Herzog’s R.-E.); she was not merely the moon goddess alongside of Baal as sun-god, as her pictures with the moon-crescents on the head testify, but as light-giving night-goddess, also star-goddess, representative of the glittering host of heaven (Jer. 7:18), like the later Artemis.19 Comp. P. Cassel on Judg. 2:13; Winer, s. v. On the renewed introduction of her worship by Solomon, in which is presented the fulfilment of Deut. 4:19, see 1 Ki. 11:5, 33.—On the accusation follows the prayer, “Deliver us” in contrast with the forsaking and forgetting, and the vow “we will serve thee” in contrast with “we have served” Baalim, etc. This repentance the Lord graciously answers (1 Samuel 12:11): 1) by sending deliverers. Again only a few are mentioned: Jerubbaal-Gideon; the name signifies “ let Baal strive,” that is, with him, and expresses scorn and contempt at the impotence of Baal, whose altar Gideon had with impunity destroyed, Judg. 6:28–32. Gideon is thence called Jerubbesheth. 2 Sam. 11:21.—The name Bedan is found elsewhere only in 1 Chr. 7:17 as name of a descendant of Manasseh, who is, however, of no historical importance. In the Book of Judges, to whose contents this part of Samuel’s address (especially 1 Samuel 12:10) unmistakably points, there is no judge of this name; but the connection shows that a judge is here meant. The name has been read Ben-Dan = “ the Danite,” as Samson was born in Dan, Judg. 13:2 (Kimchi), and at the same time a play of words on his corpulence [Arab, badana] has been also supposed (Böttch.). But against this last Thenius rightly remarks that a name resting on a word-play would by no means suit this serious discourse; against the first (apart from the form) is the fact that Samson is never so-called, as must have been the case if the people were here to understand the name. Gesenius (Halle Lit. Z. 1841, No. 41) regards the name as abbreviation of Abdon, and so Ewald, who understands the judge of that name (Judg. 12:13). But this judge does not occupy the important place in the history which the connection calls for. Similarly we must reject the supposition that Jair of Gilead Judg.10 assumed to be a descendant of Machir (whose great grandson, 1 Chr. 7:17, is Bedan) is here meant, since the connection of Jair and Machir is not proved; and the supposition that a judge omitted in the Book of Judges from his insignificance is intended, is untenable. The best expedient is to read (with Sept., Syr., Arab) Barak; for the letters of this name (ברק) might easily pass into the other (בדן) and the error be perpetuated by copyists. But Barak is one of the most prominent judges along with those here mentioned. The historical-chronological order is not strictly observed in 1 Samuel 12:9 also. Barak represents with Deborah that heroic Israelitish band that (Judg. 4) broke the power of Sisera and delivered Israel out of the hand of the Canaanites.—The fact that, after Jeph., Sam. names himself as the fourth representative of the divine deliverance is not so surprising as it is thought by the Syr. and Arab, versions and a Greek manuscript (Kennicott in the Addend, to his dissert. gener.) which put Samson instead, and also by Thenius, who, though the Sept. and Vulg. have Samuel, accepts the former reading because Samuel does not speak of his own times till the next verse. Samuel could mention himself without exciting surprise, because he was conscious of his high mission as judge and deliverer, and the profound significance of his office for the history of Israel was universally recognized. By this mention of himself he honors not himself, but the Lord, who had made him (like Moses and Aaron before) what he was, comp. 1 Samuel 12:6–9. Besides, it was under him that the yoke of the forty years’ dominion of the Philistines was broken, which work of deliverance Samson was only able to begin. Samuel includes himself as an instrument of the divine deliverance, because over against him the demand for a king involved the rejection of the Lord (8:5), and so the sin against the Lord in that demand appears in the clearest light; and this, after having pointed secondly to the repeated wonderful deliverances of Israel out of the hand of enemies by these messengers of God, and thirdly to the quiet and security which they were enabled to attain in the land, he sets before them in 1 Samuel 12:12. These words expressly declare that Ammonitish attacks on the territory of Israel were the first occasion of the demand for a king as leader in war, comp. 8:20. Clericus well remarks: “ It hence appears not improbable that Nahash had made incursions into the Hebrew territory before the Israelites had demanded a king, and after his election had returned and begun the siege of Jabesh. It often happens in these books that circumstances omitted in their proper place are mentioned where they less properly belong.” And yet the Lord your God is your king.—By such deliverers He had shown Himself anew their king; this He was by the covenant, and this He remained by His covenant-faithfulness. With the same declaration Gideon (Judg. 8:23) exhibits the inadmissibility of His elevation as king, and Samuel the sinfulness and the unjustifiableness of their demand for a king.
1 Samuel 12:13–18. The third section of this transaction: in view of the fact that God has actually established a king in accordance with their demand, though it was a sinful and blameful one, Samuel declares a truth, which contains an earnest warning, namely, that, if the people with their king will maintain the right relation to God in fidelity and obedience to His will, the hand of the Lord will be with them both; in the contrary case, it will be against them both.
1 Samuel 12:13. And now. Here the discourse turns from the past and from the judgment of the people’s conduct to the present fact of the established kingdom, which, with the words: Behold the king is taken as starting-point for the following declaration and the attached serious warning and truth. In this declaration is set forth the origin of Saul’s kingly position—1) on its human side by the words: whom ye have chosen, whom ye have demanded—the discourse here goes regressively first to the election instituted by Samuel, and then to the demand made against him and God’s will, and there is just here a progression in the thought;20—2) on its divine side by the words: behold, the Lord hath set a king over you.—Your demand sprang from an evil root, yet hath the Lord granted it; this king—though chosen and demanded by you—is yet alone a work of God; his election and establishment rests on the divine will and command. By these words is confirmed the truth that the Lord is and remains king (1 Samuel 12:12). So far is that rejection (factually affirmed by the demand) from overthrowing Jehovah’s kingdom, that the universal authority of the latter is rather now for the first time rightly declared in the installation of the sought-for king, and in his obligation and the people’s to be subject to Jehovah and unconditionally obedient to His will. This point of view of the absolute theocracy comes out here the more clearly not only by the immediately preceding reference to the human side of the origin of the kingdom, but also by Samuel’s declaration in 1 Samuel 12:1: “I have made a king over you,” to which stands opposed the declaration: “Behold, the Lord hath set a king over you.” From this fact, that the installed king is a gift of the Lord, granted to the people’s demand (comp. 10:19), follows now, in view of the relation in which therefore people and king should stand to the Lord, the truth and the warning: The well-being of both depends on faithful obedience to the Lord’s will and word. The “if” introduces a protasis which includes all of 1 Samuel 12:14, and has no apodosis. The view that the latter has fallen out by similar endings, and read: “then he will save you out of the hand of your enemies” (Thenius) is not satisfactorily supported, and is not required to explain the aposiopesis, since the absence of the apodosis is easily explained by the length of the protasis, and its content apparent from the context= “well,” or “it will be well with you.” A similar failure of the apodosis to be supplied from the connection is found in Ex. 32:32. The assumption of an apodosis with וִהְיִתֶם [as in Eng. A. V.] in the sense, “then ye will follow the Lord,” is untenable, partly from the tautology it makes in protasis and apodosis, partly from the expectation, awakened by the parallelism with the following sentence in 1 Samuel 12:15, of finding a promise set over against the threat. The voluntative sense of אַם =modo, “if only” (Keil) [=“O that ye would only”], cannot be taken here, since it would then have the Imperf.21 (Ew. §329 b). Nor can we (with S. Schmid) connect 1 Samuel 12:14 with the last words of 1 Samuel 12:13: “The Lord hath set a king over you, if ye only will, etc.; but if not ….,” since the conditioned character of the former clause would then require in it the Imperf. If (with Kimchi, Maurer) we read וִחְיִתֶם, “ye shall live,” we cannot (with Maurer) translate: “who reigns over you after Jehovah” (that is, “next to Jehovah”), since this is an, expression foreign to the Old Testament; nor (with Tremellius) supply “sequentes” [that is, “ye will live following Jehovah”]. If an apodosis be insisted on here (changing the text to וחיתם), we might perhaps read: “then shall ye live… after Jehovah,” which answers to the view expressed in the preceding words, of following God in obedience to His commands. But, retaining the text and supposing the apodosis omitted, Samuel here, in keeping with the importance of the moment and the emotion of his own heart, heaps together in most eloquent fashion the demands which are to be made on religious-moral life in view of the conditions of true well-being for the people and their king in the new order of things: to fear the Lord, serve Him, hearken to His voice, not rebel against His word (comp. Deut. 1:26, “rebel against the mouth [commandment] of the Lord”), and be after him, or, remain in His retinue true to Him. About the last words Keil rightly remarks (against Thenius) that היה אחר “to be after” is good Hebrew, and especially is often used in the sense, “to attach one’s self to the king, hold to him,” comp. 2 Sam. 2:10; 1 Kings 12:20; 16:21. This expression corresponds completely to the thought underlying this exhortation, namely, that the Lord, in spite of Israel’s rejection of Him by the demand for an earthly-human king, is and remains the King of His people (1 Samuel 12:12, 13).
1 Samuel 12:15. The contrast: But if ye will not—(from the preceding are recapitulated only the two traits of obedience to the word of the Lord and not rebelling against His commandment)—then will the hand of the Lord be against you, as it was against your fathers.22—This comparative addition looks to the words from 1 Samuel 12:7 to 1 Samuel 12:12, wherein is pointed out how the fathers had brought on themselves by sin and defection the oppression of the enemy, in which the hand of the Lord was heavy on them, and from which the people now hoped to be delivered by the kings. At bottom the defection of the fathers and the demand for a king who was to deliver from oppressions sent by God for their sins, are one and the same wrong against the Lord. Therefore Samuel wishes by his earnest warning to lead them to repentance.
1 Samuel 12:16 gives the transition to a miraculous confirmation of that realness of the divine holiness and righteousness, with which Samuel, his gaze fixed on the future, has just directed his exhortation to the people in the form of the announcement of a sentence. “Even now” connects the following with the preceding, so that 1) the picture of a judicial scene, which was introduced in 1 Samuel 12:7, is continued in the following narration, and 2) the signification of the next related fact is closely connected with that of the previously spoken words. The “now also” or “even now” refers back to 1 Samuel 12:7, where the judidicial scene is introduced with the same words: “and now stand forth, that I may reason with you.” The reasoning continues thence through all the stages of the discourse, which the people have up to this moment heard, and is completed in the fact announced by Samuel [that is, the thunder-storm.—TR.], in which they are to behold the Lord’s judgment on their sin in the matter of the king.
1 Samuel 12:17. Is it not wheat-harvest to-day? This question signifies that at that season (in May or June) rain was unusual. So testifies Jerome on Am. iv. 7 [and Rob. I., 429–431.—TR.]. After the barley-harvest (2 Sam. 21:9; Ruth 1:22; 2:23) followed the wheat-harvest, 6:13; Gen. 30:14; Judg. 15:1–“To give voices,” said of Jehovah, = “ to thunder,” Ps. 46:7; 68:34;18:14; Ex. 9:23. Thunder is called the voice of the Lord, Ps. 29:3 sq. Samuel announces a storm with thunder and rain as a God-given sign, by which the Israelites should perceive that they had grievously sinned against God in asking a king. The “voices” = thunder answer to the “voice” and “mouth” in 1 Samuel 12:15.
1 Samuel 12:18. At Samuel’s request this sign of His anger and His punitive justice, as manifestation of His kingly glory, takes place.—The result is that the people are seized with great fear of the Lord and of Samuel; “of Samuel” is added because he, as before by his word, so by his introduction of this manifestation, wonderful and contrary to the ordinary course of nature, of God’s wrath, had displayed himself as instrument of the judicial power and glory of the God-king.
1 Samuel 12:19–25. Fourth section of Samuel’s dealing with the repentant people. Confession of sin, comfort and exhortation to the humbled people.
1 Samuel 12:19. Their overwhelming fright and terror of soul leads first to the prayer to Samuel to call on the Lord that He might mercifully spare them. That we die not,—the presence of the holy and just God has made itself known to the people. Before Him the sinner cannot stand, His judgment must reach him. The “for” supplies the basis to the thought contained in what precedes, that they had deserved the punishment of the angry God. Their penitent confession is not merely the admission that they had asked a king, but that they had added to all their sins this evil. 1 Samuel 12:20. The word of consolation: Fear not, in contrast with: “and all the people greatly feared” (1 Samuel 12:18). To his consoling word Samuel adds 1) the reference to their sin, which, in order to retain them in wholesome sorrowful repentance, he anew sets before them in its whole extent (“ye have done all this wickedness”), and 2) the exhortation, negative: only turn not aside from following the Lord (the “from after” points back to the “after” in 1 Samuel 12:15); positive: Serve the Lord with all your heart, the undivided, complete devotion of the heart, the innermost life to the Lord is inseparably connected with not turning aside from Him.
1 Samuel 12:21. Warning against apostasy to idol-worship. And turn ye not aside [after vanities which do not profit]. (Text-criticism.—The difficulties in the כִּי “for” after וְלֹא תָסוּרוּ are not set aside by supplying תָּסוּרוּ or תֵּלְכוּ, as many ancient and modern expositors do [so Eng. A. V.—TR.]. According to this view, the ground of the resumed warning would be here given: “ for ye go (if ye do that, namely, turn aside from the Lord) after vanities.” But then something is adduced as ground of the warning which is implicitly its object; besides, apart from the hardness of the insertion, the resumption of the “turn not aside” with וְ “and” is a difficulty. Looking at the following כִּי, it becomes probable that this one was by mistake inserted a line before. It is rendered in not one of the ancient versions (Then.). It is wanting in Luther’s version also. The omission of the כִּי gives a good, clear sense and an advance suitable to the lively character of the whole discourse. The “Turn not aside from the Lord” [1 Samuel 12:20] is continued in the “Turn not aside after vanities,” for apostasy to idolatry is the consequence of apostasy from the Lord. The former is introduced with אַֹךְ אַל (“only do not”) in the form of urgent request, hearty wish, the latter as a categorically-determined negative with לֹא, (“not.”). Idols are described as תֹּהוּ “naughty, vain” (= הֶבֶל), as in Isaiah 46:9 the idol-makers. They cannot help nor deliver, because they are simply, tohu, nothing, vanity.—[Comp. 1 Cor. 8:4.—TR.]
1 Samuel 12:22 is factually the reason why they are not to fear (1 Samuel 12:20); but formally this verse is the ground of the preceding exhortation; they are not to forsake the Lord and turn aside from Him and serve idols, because the Lord will not forsake them as His people, which is said in contrast with the vain idols, which cannot help and deliver, because they are “naught,” while the Lord’s “great name” is to be the pledge that He will not forsake them. The words: for his name’s sake are explained by and based on the declaration: for it hath pleased the Lord (כִּי הוֹאִיל), not “the Lord hath begun,” but “he has by free determination taken the first step thereto, it pleased him” (comp. Judg. 17:11; Josh. 7:7; Ex. 2: 21).—To make you his people.—This embraces all God’s deeds, by which He has established Israel in history as His people, the deeds of choice, deliverance out of Egypt, covenanting, introduction into the promised inheritance, preservation from enemies—by these deeds He has glorified His name, which is the expression of all God’s revelations of salvation and power to His people. The ground of this is found simply in the determination of the free, loving will of God—הוֹאִיל, comp. Deut. 7:6–12, which furnishes a complete parallel to the train of thought here. Of the vain idols it is said in 1 Samuel 12:21 לֹא יוֹעִילוּ [lo yoilu, “they do not profit”], of the Lord here הוֹאִיל [hoil, “he did kindly, it pleased him”], a paronomasia of pregnant meaning. The name of the Lord, therefore, that by which He has made Himself this name in His relations to His people, and that which thence resulted, the dignity of the people as the Lord’s people and their appertainment to Him as His property is the pledge that He will not leave His people. “His people” and “make you His people” are corresponding expressions, they are His people because He has made them His people. Comp. Psalm 100:3; 95:7; Deut. 7:6, 9, 18.
1 Samuel 12:23. Samuel promises the people his personal mediation and aid, partly through the priestly function of intercession for them, partly through the exercise of his prophetic office in showing them the right way. The “as for me too” refers to the “Jehovah” in the preceding verse, and to the close connection into which the people (1 Samuel 12:19) had brought his name with the name of the Lord. The assurance of his intercession follows on the request in 1 Samuel 12:19: “Pray for thy servants.” Both passages put Samuel’s prayer-life anew in a clear light (comp. 7, 8). By the solemn asseveration “far be it,” he points to the importance which he himself attributes to his intercession for the people. The word “sin” indicates his obligation before the Lord to intercede; to neglect this would be a sin against the Lord; for, as mediator between God and the people, he must enter the Lord’s presence in whatever concerned them, for weal or for woe. Comp. his work of prayer in chs. 7, 8. The “not ceasing” indicates his persistency in intercession.—Along with this priestly mediation Samuel promises also his constant prophetic watch-care, which consists in “showing the good and right way,” that is, the way of God. The predicates “good and right” show that moral conduct is referred to, and that according to the will and law of the Lord (so Ps. 25:4). The instruction is to be given to king as well as people.
1 Samuel 12:24. Samuel, having spoken of his person and his personal office, now directs the people’s look from his person and work to the Lord, and holds up anew before king and people the great Either—Or: either ye will fear the Lord and serve Him and ye will experience the salvation of your God,—or, ye will do evil and—both of you will be destroyed. The discourse culminates in a condensed statement of what is said in 1 Samuel 12:14, 15. The “in truth, with all your heart,” exhibits the double character of the service of God, of truth and of innerness, in contrast with the service of outward appearance and dead works. Since this exhortation to fear and serve God relates to the general religious-moral life of the people, we cannot refer the confirmatory declaration: For ye see what great things he hath done for you to the extraordinary natural phenomenon narrated in 1 Samuel 12:18. The mighty deeds of the Lord here referred to are those mentioned in 1 Samuel 12:6, 7 sqq., to which reference is repeatedly made in all these transactions relating to the king (8:8; 10:18), from which most frequently is drawn the motive for true fear of God and obedience to His will, because by them God established and confirmed His covenant relation with Israel as His people, and so the people owed Him covenant-fidelity and obedience as their God.
HISTORICAL AND THEOLOGICAL
1. Review of the history of the introduction by Samuel of the Israelitish monarchy under Saul (chaps 8–12). The following are its principal stadia, in the general and special development of which the well-adjusted connection between the several sections becomes apparent. In chap. 8 Samuel confers with the people concerning their demand for a king, and receives in prayer the revelation from the Lord that he should listen to the people’s demand and give them a king. In 1 Samuel 9:1-17 is set forth the providence of the Lord, whereby in the person of Saul the divinely chosen and appointed king of Israel is led to Samuel, and is designated as such by a special revelation from the Lord. 1 Samuel 9:17–10:16, Samuel as instrument of the divine call which came to Saul; Saul receives from Samuel first the announcement of his high calling by the Lord (1 Samuel 12:17–27), then the consecration to the royal office by anointing, and the assurance of his call by reference to appointed signs therefor (10:1–8), and finally the confirmation and strengthening of his divine call together with qualification for it by the Spirit of the Lord (1 Samuel 12:9–16).—1 Samuel 10:18–27. Samuel and the people in the assembly at Mizpah for the public presentation of the God-chosen king, which is followed by a partial recognition only on the part of the people.—Chap. 11 Saul’s proclamation and general recognition as king of Israel in consequence of his heroic deed of deliverance from the Ammonites, and also his solemn installation at Gilgal.—Chap. 12 Samuel, in a solemn, affecting final conference at Gilgal, after a justificatory review of his official career, places people and monarchy under the government of the Lord, as their king, and obligates both to obey His will.
2. “Samuel yields to the desire of the people because he knows that now God’s time has come; but at the same time he makes every effort to bring the people to a consciousness of their sins. If it were true that Samuel considered the monarchy in itself incompatible with the theocracy, how very differently he must have acted! In that case, when the whole people, deeply moved by his discourse and by the confirmatory divine sign, said: “Pray for thy servants to the Lord thy God, for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king” (1 Samuel 12:19), he must have insisted that the old form be straightway re-established. But he is far from doing this. He rather exhorts the people to be from now on faithful to the Lord, who would glorify Himself in them and their king.” Hengstenberg, Beitr. 3, 258 sq. [Contributions, etc.].
3. At Gilgal [chap. 12] Samuel stands at the highest point of his work as instrument of the divine guidance and government of his people, and as mediator between the people and God as their king and lord. As prophet he leads king and people together into the presence of the Lord, calls forth in the people by a moving discourse the deep feeling of sin and the penitent confession of guilt, places king and people under God’s royal majesty and legal authority, and obligates them to inviolable obedience to the will of the Lord. As judge he, at God’s command, installs the asked-for king, makes the people solemnly confirm the self-justifying declaration which he with invocation of God and the king had made, conducts the Lord’s cause against the unfaithful people by reasoning with them and accusing them, exhibits in thunder and storm the majesty and the wrath of the despised invisible king, decrees weal and woe, salvation and destruction to king and people, according to the regard which they hereafter show to the exhortations and instructions which he had given them as prophet. In this sense, in spite of the termination now of his official functions as judge, he remains a judge over king and people. And there is, besides, his priestly position, in which he again presents himself between the Lord and His people, with the assurance and promise that he will ever intercede for them, and would sin by not interceding. The people so needed him as long as he lived.
4. The Lord’s mighty deeds towards and for His people, their apostasy to unfaithfulness and idolatry, punishment for their sins in oppression and misery, cry to the Lord for help in time of need, repentance and confession of sins, new exhibitions of the Lord’s grace, these are in constant sequence the chief features of the history of the kingdom of God in Israel, here briefly sketched (1 Samuel 12:7–12), and in the Book of Judges detailed at length.
5. The mention of the Lord’s manifestations of grace and revelations of power for His people, which is here heard from Samuel, and remains throughout all prophecy a standing element of prophetic preaching, has as its aim: 1) to glorify the name of God, to bring out clearly His covenant-faithfulness, and to exhibit the people’s high calling as chosen people and God’s property; 2) to show more strikingly the people’s sin in unfaithfulness, unthankfulness and disobedience, and thereby to bring them to acknowledgment of their sin; 3) to induce sincere repentance and penitent return to the Lord; 4) to show the penitent people the source of consolation and help, and to fix in their hearts the ground of hope for future salvation; 5) to make more effective admonitions and warnings respecting the maintenance and attestation of their covenant-faithfulness.
6. The truth and the fact: “The Lord your God is your King” (1 Samuel 12:12), notwithstanding its subjective obscuration in the consciousness of the people, whence proceeded the demand (sinful in its motives and moral presuppositions) for an earthly-human kingdom, has lost so little objectively in validity and importance that now, in the outset of the history of the kingdom granted by God in accordance with this desire, it rather comes out more clearly, since monarchy and people are placed under the immediate royal authority of God (1 Samuel 12:13, 14), and both people and king (the two embraced as a unit in this point of view, 1 Samuel 12:14), exhorted to like obedience to His royal will, and threatened with like punishment from the Most High King as their Judge (1 Samuel 12:14, 15, 25). The rejection of the God-king by the demand for a man-king led to a higher stage of development of the theocracy, on which, over against and by means of the earthly kingdom, there was of necessity a so much the more glorious unfolding of the royal honor of God.
7. God’s manifestations of grace and salvation to Israel are often regarded in the Old Testament under the point of view of righteousness, and called by this name, as in 1 Samuel 12:7. But this “righteousness” is not then (as is often done) to be taken as =“goodness,” “benefit,” and the like, for these are different conceptions; nor as=“faithfulness,” “ trustworthiness,” so far as God fulfils to His people the promises which He gives as covenant-God. The ground of this designation of the divine gracious kindnesses is given in the relation in which God as covenant-God stands to His people; established by own free grace and His absolute loving will (1 Samuel 12:22), it is the norm, according to which the people over against him walk in the obedience due to His holy will (ethical righteousness), and on the other hand the Lord over against His people reveals to them the love and goodness which belong to them as His possession by virtue of the gracious rights established by Him, imparting to them gifts and benefits of grace partly as a promised blessing, partly as reward of faithful and obedient fulfilment of covenant-obligations (Ps. 24:5; 22:32; Mic. 6:5). In accordance with this, God in His deliverances exercises His righteousness (which gives each his own) as King of His people on the ground and according to the norm of the covenant-relation established by Himself in His own free grace (1 Samuel 12:14, 15, 24, 25). Comp. 1 John 1:9: “God is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins.” After the completion of the economy of salvation in Christ, God’s righteousness is exhibited, along with His faithfulness, in the bestowment on the penitent sinner of the gracious gift of forgiveness of sins as something which belongs to him by the right accorded him by free grace, since God has ordained that he who penitently confesses his sins shall find pardon.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1 Samuel 12:1–6. How a servant of God should, after the example of Samuel, rightly perform the duty of maintaining his personal honor and innocence against unjust accusations: 1) By a clear and true statement of his own course of life and behaviour (1 Samuel 12:1, 2); 2) By a bold appeal to the knowledge and conscience of others (1 Samuel 12:3, 4); 3) By a solemn invocation of the all-knowing God as the best witness. [1 Samuel 12:2, 3. Samuel a statesman and civil and military ruler, living in times of cruel warfare, political changes, social corruption, and general relaxation of morality; he can solemnly appeal to God and man for the absolute integrity of his official conduct through all the years (particularizing that—a) he has not seized their property, b) defrauded them, nor c) inflicted personal violence, and d) has not taken bribes); and all the people (1 Samuel 12:5, 6), and God Himself (1 Samuel 12:18), fully confirm the claim. A notable example, often needed.—HALL: No doubt Samuel found Himself guilty before God of many private infirmities; but, for his public carriage, he appeals to men. A man’s heart can best judge of himself; others can best judge of his actions. Happy is that man that can be acquitted by himself in private, in public by others, by God in both.—SCOTT: The honor rendered to those who are concluding their course, differs widely from the applause and congratulation which many receive when they first step forth before the public eye. This, indeed, often terminates in disgrace and contempt.—TR.]
1 Samuel 12:7–12. Think of former times: 1) That we may with shame remember the Lord’s many manifestations of grace and benefits; 2) That we may be penitently conscious of the sins committed against the Lord; 3) That we may humbly acknowledge the ground of all evils and distresses in our own guilt; 4) That we may honestly turn to the obedience of faith towards the Lord. [1 Samuel 12:7–12. HALL: Samuel had dissuaded them before—he reproves them not until now.…. We must ever dislike sin—we may not ever show it. Discretion in the choice of seasons for reproving is not less commendable and necessary than zeal and faithfulness in reproving.—TR.]
1 Samuel 12:14, 15. With whom or against whom is the hand of the Lord? The answer to this question depends on the following considerations: 1) Whether one has, or has not, given himself to be the Lord’s with his whole heart—a) in true fear of God, b) in true service of God; 2) Whether one is, or is not, in his will thoroughly obedient to the will of the Lord, a) hearkening unconditionally to His word, b) not resisting His commandments; 3) Whether one is, or is not, in his whole walk ready to follow the Lord in His guidance—a) keeping in the way pointed out by Him, b) keeping in view the goal set up by Him.
1 Samuel 12:13–15. True unity between king and people, authorities and subjects: 1) As being holy it is closely bound by the hand of the King of all kings in establishing the covenant between the two (1 Samuel 12:13; 2) As being deeply grounded it is rooted in the common obligation of both alike to fear God, serve God, obey God (no true unity without right fear of God, humble service of God, faithful obedience to God) (1 Samuel 12:14); 3) As unshakable and abiding it is maintained in times of heavy assaults, when both are tempted to apostasy, unbelief and disobedience (1 Samuel 12:15 a); 4) It shows itself ever firmer in view of the Lord’s threatenings and promises to both.
1 Samuel 12:14–19. The hard speech of God against sinners: 1) Why it is necessary—because men are hard-hearted, hard of hearing, cross-grained; 2) How it makes itself heard—in the earnest exhortations of His holy love (1 Samuel 12:14), in the threatenings of His righteous wrath (1 Samuel 12:15), in alarming natural events (1 Samuel 12:16–18); 3) What is its aim—acknowledgment of sin (1 Samuel 12:17), fear of God (1 Samuel 12:18), seeking God’s grace (1 Samuel 12:19).
1 Samuel 12:19–21. To whom applies the divine word of consolation, Fear not: To those who—1) penitently confess their sins before God, 2) humbly acknowledge God’s punishments as well-merited, 3) eagerly seek God’s grace and mercy; 4) are willing to serve the Lord in faithful obedience.
1 Samuel 12:20, 21. The exhortation to fidelity, Turn not aside from the Lord. Turn not aside—1) When experiencing His punitive justice, but have childlike confidence in His forgiving love; 2) When harassed by natural inclination to resist His will, but serve Him in faithful obedience through the power of His Spirit; 3) When tempted to fall away by the world which is sunk in the service of vanity, but bravely withstand the idolatry of the ungodly world.
1 Samuel 12:20, 21. A threefold word of exhortation to penitent sinners: 1) A word reminding of past sin (“Ye have done all this wickedness”); 2) A word consolingly pointing to the divine grace (“Fear not”); 3) A word exhorting to fidelity (“Turn not aside from the Lord”), which, with the warning against the idolatry of the vain world contains a demand to serve the Lord alone with all the heart.
1 Samuel 12:22. The Lord forsakes not His people—for 1) He has made His people His possession—a) by choice out of free grace, b) by covenanting with them in faithful love; 2) He has made Himself a great name among His people, a) by His wonderful deeds in the past, b) by the promises of His word for the future.
1 Samuel 12:23. The highest service of love which men can do one another: 1) Intercession for each other before the Lord; 2) Pointing to the good and right way.—Ceasing to intercede for our brethren a sin against the Lord: 1) Because the souls of our brethren as members of His people are His possession; 2) Because the Lord demands intercession as a sign and fruit of love, which flows from the fountain of His paternal love, and in which men as His children are to keep themselves before Him; 3) Because the Lord, in that community of life in which He has placed us, often gives us special occasion and necessity to pray for our brethren. [HENRY: Samuel promises more than they asked. (1) They asked it of him as a favor—he promised it as a duty. (2) They asked him to pray for them at this time, and upon this occasion, but he promises to continue his prayers for them, and not to cease as long as he lived. (3) They asked him only to pray for them, but he promises to do more, to teach them also “the good and the right way,” the way of duty, the way of pleasure and profit.—TR.]
1 Samuel 12:24, 25. Fear the Lord: 1) What sort of fear the true fear of God is. 2) On what it is grounded (“great things”). 3) Whereby it manifests itself (serving Him). 4) From what it preserves (from temporal and eternal destruction). [HENRY: And two things he urges by way of motive: (1) Gratitude, considering “what great things he had done for them;” (2) Interest, considering what great things He would do against them, if they should still “do wickedly.”—TR.] 1 Samuel 12:22, 25. HARLESS (On Hallowing the Sabbath, I., 113): The hope of genuine national prosperity. Where then is the ground for hope of genuine national prosperity? Where there is 1) Fear of God’s Name; 2) Confidence in God’s Name.
1[1 Samuel 12:2. Sept. wrongly καθήσομαί, as if from ישׁב.—TR.]
2[1 Samuel 12:3. Or, “in his account;” so Chald.: “I hid my eyes in judgment from him.” Sept. reads: “a ransom (proper rendering of כּפֶֹר, but here=“ bribe”) and a sandal (reading נַעֲלַיִם, instead of אַעְלִים), answer against me, and,” etc. So in Sir. 46:19. Vulg.: “I will despise that to-day.” Syr. and Chald. support Heb. The insertion in the Sept. of the easy “answer” is suspicious, and the “sandal” is hard. It seems better to retain the abbreviated Heb. text.—TR.]
3[1 Samuel 12:5. Heb. is sing., but Sept. and several VSS. and Heb. MSS. plu.; the subject is “the people,” which may have been taken as a sing. collective.—TR.]
4[1 Samuel 12:6. Sept.: “Jehovah be witness, who,” etc., a natural and suspicious insertion, and not necessary. Syr. has “Jehovah is God alone.” Ch. and Vulg. as Heb.—TR.]
5[1 Samuel 12:7. Sept. inserts: “and I will tell you,” which makes the sentence easier, but is easily supplied in the pregnant Heb. construction.—TR.]
6[1 Samuel 12:8. Erdmann not so well makes the apodosis begin here. Here Sept. inserts: “and Egypt humbled them,” which has much to recommend it. But, if it had been in the original text, it would be hard to explain how it fell out. The addition of “and his sons” after “Jacob” in the Sept. is probably spurious.—TR.]
7[1 Samuel 12:9. Sept.: “host of Jabis king of Asor,” which agrees with the expression in Judg. 4:2, 7. So the Vulg.—TR.]
8[1 Samuel 12:11. Sept.: Barak. In the Syr. the list is: Deborah, Barak, Gideon, Nephtah, Samson. Probably we should read “Barak” for “Bedan;” the others as in the Heb. text. See Exegetical Notes.—TR.]
9[1 Samuel 12:13. Omitted in Sept. The order in the Heb. does not seem natural, but may refer to the two paths by which they obtained the king (chs. 10 and 11). Wellhausen suggests that there is here a duplet. De Rossi prefers, on the authority of many MSS. and three VSS. (Syr., Vulg., Arab.), the insertion of “and” before “whom ye have demanded.”—TR.]
10[1 Samuel 12:14. On the construction see Exeget. Notes. For Heb. הייתם, “be,” Chald. in Walton’s Polyg. has תחווּן, “live” (which does not help the matter), but P. de Lagarde’s ed. of Codex Reuchlinianus (Targ.) has תתנהוּן, “be gathered.”—TR.]
11[1 Samuel 12:15. Sept.: “and against your king,” which accords with 1 Samuel 12:14.—TR.]
12[1 Samuel 12:21. The כִּי is, with all the ancient vss., to be omitted. Syr. and Arab. and Chald. diverge slightly from the masor. text.—TR.]
13[1 Samuel 12:23. Sept. inserts: “and I will serve the Lord.”—TR.]
14[1 Samuel 12:23. The omission of the Art. in בּ is strange.—TR.]
15Thenius, on the ground that הִעֱלִים in the sense of “hide” is always construed with מִן, changes the text וְאַעלִים עֵינַי בוֹ into וְנַעֲלַיִם עֲנוּ בּי, “and (if it were only) a pair of shoes; witness against me,” against which Keil rightly remarks that the supposed meaning “hide from” does not suit here; that the thought is not that the judge hides his eyes from the כֹּפֶר in order not to see the bribe, but that he covers his eyes with the bribe, in order not to see and punish the crime. The בּוֹ, however, might also be referred to מִי, and would then mean: that I might hide my eyes “on his account,’ ’ “towards him,” or “in respect to him.” The change after the Sept., requiring a large addendum for explanation, compels us to introduce a too special thing (shoes) in the most extraordinary way.
16We must read the Sing. וַיֹּאמֶר [“said”], not the Plu. (Qeri), since “the people ”is to he taken as subject.
17The Accus. sign [אֵת) is here: “concerning,” “in respect to.”—The verb judge usually has עַל with the object, as in Jer. 2:35; Joel 3:27; but has also the Accus. as in Ezek. 17:20.
18We are not with the Sept. to insert וּבָנָיו after יַעֲֹקֹב and וַתַּכְנִיֵעם after מִצְרַיִם. If either had originally been there, it would not have been omitted. The breviloquent text speaks for its originality. The וַיִּשְׁלַח is the explanation of the עָשָׂה in 1 Samuel 12:6).
19[This account of Ashtoreth is in several points incorrect. The word (the etymology of which is not known) has no connection with ἀστήρ, and the Plu. Ashtaroth refers (like Baalim) to various god-modifications. See Rawlinson’s “Five Great Mon.,” I. 138, and Schrader “Die Keil-Insch. u. d. Alt. Test.” on Judg. 2:11, 13.—TR.]
20On the weakening of the a to e in שׁאלתּם, see Gesen. § 64, 3, Rem. 1.
21[It has the Imperf. here, and might express a wish but that the construction in 1 Samuel 12:14 is clearly the same as that in 1 Samuel 12:15, which is conditional.—TR.]
22Not “and against your kings,” “fathers” being taken=“kings” (D. Kimchi), nor (with Sept. and Thenius) “and your king,” but (with Chald., Syr., Arab., Cler., Maur., Keil) retaining the harder reading of the text, and taking the ו as comparative [=“as,” so Eng. A. V.], in support of which is the fact that it sometimes introduces and connects loosely with the preceding whole sentences, the thought in which is subordinate, explanatory, or comparative, Ew. 340 b. It is properly to be explained: “And it was against your fathers,”—which is shortened into: “and against your fathers,” whence is suggested a comparison. [Instead of this somewhat forced explanation it is better either to adopt the reading of the Sept., or to suppose the ו “and” to be an error for כ “as”. We might expect in 1 Samuel 12:15 the mention of the king.—TR.].