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Samuel clears himself from all imputation of abusing
the power which he now resigns to Saul, ver. 1 - 5.
He reminds them of the great things God had done, ver. 6 - 13.
He sets before them the blessing and the curse, ver. 14, 15.
He calls upon God for thunder, ver. 16 - 19.
He encourages and exhorts them, ver. 20 - 25.
1: Said - While they were assembled together in Gilgal. And this
is another instance of Samuel's great wisdom and integrity. He would
not reprove the people for their sin, in desiring a king, whilst Saul
was unsettled in his kingdom; lest through their accustomed levity, they
should as hastily cast off their king, as they had passionately desired him,
and therefore he chuseth this season for it; because Saul's kingdom was
now confirmed by an eminent victory; and because the people rejoiced
greatly, applauded themselves for their desires of a king; and
interpreted the success which God had given them, as a divine approbation
of those desires. Samuel therefore thinks fit to temper their joys, and
to excite them to that repentance which he saw wanting in them, and which he
knew to be necessary, to prevent the curse of God upon their new king, and
the whole kingdom.
2: Walketh - Ruleth over you. To him I have fully resigned my power,
and own myself one of his subjects. Old - And therefore unable to bear
the burden of government. My sons - Or, among you, in the same states
private persons, as you are; if they have injured any of you, the law is now
open against them; any of you may accuse them, your king can punish them, I
do not intercede for them. Walked before you - That is, been your guide
and governor; partly, as a prophet; and partly, as a judge.
3: Behold - I here present myself before the Lord, and before your
king, ready to give an account of all my administrations. And this
protestation Samuel makes of his integrity, not out of ostentation; but
for his own just vindication, that the people might not hereafter for the
defence of their own irregularities, reproach his government, and that being
publickly acquitted from all faults in his government, he might more freely
reprove the sins of the people, and, particularly, that sin of theirs in
desiring a king, when they had so little reason for it.
7: Righteous acts - Heb. the righteousnesses; that is, mercies
or benefits the chief subject of the following discourse; some of their
calamities being but briefly named, and that for the illustration of God's
mercy in their deliverances.
8: This place - In this land: in which Moses and Aaron are
said to settle them; because they brought them into, and seated them in part
of it, that without Jordan; because they were, under God, the principal
authors of their entering into the land of Canaan; inasmuch as they
brought them out of Egypt, conducted them through the wilderness; and
thereby their prayers to God, and counsel to them, preserved them from ruin,
and gave command from God for the distribution of the land among them, and
encouraged them to enter into it. And lastly, Moses substituted
Joshua in his stead, and commanded him to seat them there, which he did.
9: Forgat - That is, they revolted from him, and carried themselves,
as if they had wholly forgotten his innumerable favours. This he saith to
answer an objection, that the reason why they desired a king, was, because
in the time of the judges they were at great uncertainties, and often
exercised with sharp afflictions: to which he answereth by concession that
they were so; but adds, by way of retortion, that they themselves were the
cause of it, by their forgetting God: so that it was not the fault of that
kind of government, but their transgressing the rules of it.
Fought - With success, and subdued them.
11: Bedan - This was either Samson, as most interpreters believe,
who is called Bedan; that is, in Dan, or of Dan, one of that
tribe, to signify that they had no reason to distrust that God, who could
raise so eminent a saviour out of so obscure a tribe: or, Jair the
Gileadite, which may seem best to agree, first, with the time and order
of the judges; for Jair was before Jephthah, but Samson was
after him. Secondly, with other scriptures: for among the sons of a more
ancient Jair, we meet with one called Bedan, (1Ch 7:17),
which name seems here given to Jair the judge, to distinguish him from
that first Jair. Safe - So that it was no necessity, but mere
wantonness, that made you desire a change.
12: Your king - That is, when God was your immediate king and
governor, who was both able and willing to deliver you, if you had cried to
him, whereof you and your ancestors have had plentiful experience; so that
you did not at all need any other king; and your desire of another, was a
manifest reproach against God.
13: Ye have chosen - Though God chose him by lot, yet the people are
said to chuse him; either generally, because they chose that form of
government; or particularly, because they approved of God's choice, and
confirmed it. The Lord - He hath yielded to your inordinate desire.
14: Then, &c. - Heb. then shall - ye - be, (that is, walk, or go)
after the Lord; that is, God shall still go before you, as he hath
hitherto done, as your leader or governor, to direct, protect, and deliver
you; and he will not forsake you, as you have given him just cause to do.
Sometimes this phrase of going after the Lord, signifies a man's
obedience to God; but here it is otherwise to be understood, and it notes
not a duty to be performed, but a privilege to be received upon the
performance of their duty; because it is opposed to a threatening denounced
in case of disobedience, in the next verse.
15: Your fathers - Who lived under the judges; and you shall have no
advantage by the change of government, nor shall your kings be able to
protect you against God's displeasure. The mistake, if we think we can
evade God's justice, by shaking off his dominion. If we will not let God
rule us, yet he will judge us.
17: Wheat - harvest - At which time it was a rare thing in those parts
to have thunder or rain; the weather being more constant in its seasons
there, than it is with us. Rain - That you may understand that God is
displeased with you; and also how foolishly and wickedly you have done in
rejecting the government of that God, at whose command are all things both
in heaven and in earth.
18: Samuel - Who had such power and favour with God. By this thunder
and rain, God shewed them their folly in desiring a king to save them,
rather than God or Samuel, expecting more from an arm of flesh than from
the arm of God, or from the power of prayer. Could their king thunder
with a voice like God? Could their prince command such forces as the
prophet could by his prayers? Likewise he intimates, that how serene soever
their condition was now, (like the weather in wheat harvest) yet if God
pleased, he could soon change the face of their heavens, and persecute
them with his storms.
19: Thy God - Whom thou hast so great an interest in, while we are
ashamed and afraid to call him our God.
20: Fear not - With a desponding fear, as if there were no hope left
21: Turn aside - After idols; as they had often done before; and,
notwithstanding this warning, did afterwards.
Vain things - So idols are called, (De 32:21,Jer 2:5), and so they
are, being mere nothings, having no power in them; no influence upon us,
nor use or benefit to us.
22: His name's sake - That is, for his own honour, which would suffer
much among men, if he should not preserve and deliver his people in eminent
dangers. And this reason God alledgeth to take them off from all conceit of
their own merit; and to assure them, that if they did truly repent of all
their sins, and serve God with all their heart; yet even in that case their
salvation would not be due to their merits; but the effect of God's free
mercy. To make - Out of his own free grace, without any desert of yours,
and therefore he will not forsake you, except you thrust him away.
24: Only, &c. - Otherwise neither my prayer nor counsels will stand
you in any stead.