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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

1 Samuel 12

Verses 1-25

1 Samuel 12:2 . I am old and grey-headed. Some think Samuel was now seventy three or eighty years of age; others think he was but sixty three. Usher’s chronology is much embarrassed here.

1 Samuel 12:11 . Bedan, that is, Ben-dan, the son of Dan, or Samson the Danite, as in the Targum, the only judge of that tribe. Samuel omits his name because of his moral errors, or rather because the tongue prefers to shorten long names.

1 Samuel 12:17 . Thunder and rain. Perhaps no man then alive could remember thunder and rain in the beginning of June; this, with the loudness of the reports, made the people afraid of death. And Samuel made a hallowed use of their terrors to excite them to loyalty, and a detestation of idolatry.

1 Samuel 12:23 . God forbid. Moses, David, Isaiah, and Jonah prayed for their country in the time of trouble, and the neglect of that duty is a great sin. Jeremiah enjoins the Jews to pray for the countries which retained them as captives. Jeremiah 29:7.

REFLECTIONS.

Turning now from the rejoicing of Saul and all Israel in Gilgal, we fix our eye on the venerable Samuel. He could not so heartily participate of that joy, for his heart feared for the people. He therefore stood forth to utter all the feelings of his soul, having reserved his grief till he had fully accomplished his duty in the inauguration of the king. He commenced his discourse by pointing to their king, in whom were now their power and their hope; and proceeded to attest his own integrity and purity as judge. He had taken no man’s ox or ass; and here so great was his confidence, that he made the people both judge and party in his cause. With one voice they acknowledged the truth of all he said. Hence all princes, magistrates and ministers, should learn of Samuel purity of principle; for the most laudable actions, proceeding from unworthy motives, lose all their lustre in the eyes of God and of discerning men.

The wounded prophet having cleared himself, next proceeds to exculpate the God of Israel from all want of fidelity to his covenant. He had indeed at various periods punished them for their sins; but on their crying for pardon and deliverance, he had not only raised them up judges, but given them many miraculous victories. The victory at Mizpeh, under his presidency, was a most signal one, and fresh in their memory. Hence on seeing the preparations of Nahash, they should have cried again for divine aid, and not sought help in an arm of flesh by asking a king. This was plain talk. It was justifying the Lord, and accusing the people. It was a charge of unbelief, to which they could make no defence.

Having thus convicted them of distrust, he instantly proceeded to chastise their sin: for guilt developed at the bar of heaven is followed by immediate punishment. And to demonstrate the greatness of the sin, which man seldom acknowledges, till he feels the rod, he asked; Is it not wheat harvest to-day? The most settled season of all the year? Were tremendous tempests ever known at this time? I will call on the name of the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain. And dreadful to say, Samuel had scarcely closed his speech before the heavens were clothed in sackcloth. His voice had scarcely ceased to be heard, before the Lord uttered his indignation in the loudest peals of thunder that the oldest man had ever heard. The affrighted people now acknowledged their error, and trembled for what they had done. And Samuel most wisely took occasion from their sorrows to enforce new obedience, encouraging them to it by the promises of the covenant. How happy was Israel under so divine a tutor!

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Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 12". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/1-samuel-12.html. 1835.