1 Samuel 12

1 Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have listened to your voice in all that you said to me, and have made a king over you. 2 Now, behold, the king walks before you. I am old and grey-headed. Behold, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my youth to this day. 3 Here I am. Witness against me before the LORD, and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Of whose hand have I taken a ransom to make me blind my eyes? I will restore it to you.” 4 They said, “You have not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither have you taken anything from anyone’s hand.” 5 He said to them, “The LORD is witness against you, and his anointed is witness today, that you have not found anything in my hand.” They said, “He is witness.” 6 Samuel said to the people, “It is the LORD who appointed Moses and Aaron, and that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt. 7 Now therefore stand still, that I may plead with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous acts of the LORD, which he did to you and to your fathers. 8 “When Jacob had come into Egypt, and your fathers cried to the LORD, then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt, and made them to dwell in this place. 9 “But they forgot the LORD their God; and he sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab; and they fought against them. 10 They cried to the LORD, and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD, and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve you.’ 11 The LORD sent Jerubbaal, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side; and you lived in safety. 12 “When you saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us;’ when the LORD your God was your king. 13 Now therefore see the king whom you have chosen, and whom you have asked for. Behold, the LORD has set a king over you. 14 If you will fear the LORD, and serve him, and listen to his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then both you and also the king who reigns over you are followers of the LORD your God. 15 But if you will not listen to the LORD’s voice, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the LORD’s hand will be against you, as it was against your fathers. 16 “Now therefore stand still and see this great thing, which the LORD will do before your eyes. 17 Isn’t it wheat harvest today? I will call to the LORD, that he may send thunder and rain; and you will know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the LORD’s sight, in asking for a king.” 18 So Samuel called to the LORD; and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day. Then all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel. 19 All the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we not die; for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for a king.” 20 Samuel said to the people, “Don’t be afraid. You have indeed done all this evil; yet don’t turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. 21 Don’t turn aside to go after vain things which can’t profit or deliver, for they are vain. 22 For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself. 23 Moreover as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will instruct you in the good and the right way. 24 Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things he has done for you. 25 But if you keep doing evil, you will be consumed, both you and your king.”

(Previous Chapter)    •    (Next Chapter)

Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 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.

Verses 6–15

The work of ministers is to reason with people; not only to exhort and direct, but to persuade, to convince men’s judgments, and so to gain their wills and affections. Samuel reasons of the righteous acts of the Lord. Those who follow God faithfully, he will enable to continue following him. Disobedience would certainly be the ruin of Israel. We mistake if we think that we can escape God’s justice, by trying to shake off his dominion. If we resolve that God shall not rule us, yet he will judge us.

Verses 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.

Back to Top