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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Dictionary of Texts

1 Samuel 12

Verses 1-25

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I. Samuel himself might be good, righteous, just, but the system he represented was out of date, obsolete.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.

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Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 12". Expositor's Dictionary of Text. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/edt/1-samuel-12.html. 1910.