1 Samuel 12


‘Samuel said to all Israel, ‘I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you. Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right.’ ‘You have not cheated or oppressed us,’ they replied. ‘You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.’ Samuel said to them, ‘The LORD is witness against you, and also his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.’ ‘He is witness,’ they said.’ 1 Samuel 12:1-5

Samuel’s Farewell Speech

In the previous chapter, we saw that Saul was renewed in his kingship after his victory over the Ammonites, 1 Samuel 11:12-15. This chapter is a continuation of this event and as Saul is being confirmed as king of Israel, Samuel uses this occasion to give a farewell speech to the people like Moses, Deuteronomy 31:1-13, and Joshua did, Joshua 24:1-28.

It was both God and Saul who were witnesses to the fact that Samuel had handled himself with honesty among the people as he didn’t take any bribes from anyone.

‘Then Samuel said to the people, ‘It is the LORD who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your ancestors up out of Egypt. Now then, stand here, because I am going to confront you with evidence before the LORD as to all the righteous acts performed by the LORD for you and your ancestors. ‘After Jacob entered Egypt, they cried to the LORD for help, and the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your ancestors out of Egypt and settled them in this place. ‘But they forgot the LORD their God; so he sold them into the hand of Sisera, the commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hands of the Philistines and the king of Moab, who fought against them. They cried out to the LORD and said, ‘We have sinned; we have forsaken the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths. But now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve you.’ Then the LORD sent Jerub-Baal, Barak, Jephthah and Samuel, and he delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around you, so that you lived in safety. ‘But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, ‘No, we want a king to rule over us’—even though the LORD your God was your king. Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the LORD has set a king over you. If you fear the LORD and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the LORD your God—good! But if you do not obey the LORD, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors.’ 1 Samuel 12:6-15

Samuel tells the people that it was God who brought them out of Egypt over 400 years ago and because He made a covenant with Abraham and Israel, then God can be seen as a just God because He fulfilled His promises to them. On the other hand, Israel as a nation broke their covenant with God by turning to the Baals and Ashtaroths, 1 Samuel 7:3-4.

But despite them turning from God, God continued to deliver from their oppressing enemies when they cried out to God for help in repentance, Judges 6:28-32. Samuel reminds them that God sent Jerub-Baal, Barak, Jephthah and Samuel to deliver them, so they can live in peace, Hebrews 11:22-24. Note that some translations have the name Bedan, but this name doesn’t appear anywhere in the Book of Judges, so the name Barak is more accurate.

Nahash was the king of the Ammonites and it’s highly likely it was because of their fear of him that Israel wanted a king of their own in the first place. Samuel reminds them to fear the Lord and Obey Him, this was Samuel reminding the people that God was still their true king and they needed to fear Him and obey His commands.

‘Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes! Is it not wheat harvest now? I will call on the LORD to send thunder and rain. And you will realise what an evil thing you did in the eyes of the LORD when you asked for a king.’ Then Samuel called on the LORD, and that same day the LORD sent thunder and rain. So all the people stood in awe of the LORD and of Samuel. The people all said to Samuel, ‘Pray to the LORD your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.’ ‘Do not be afraid,’ Samuel replied. ‘You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD but serve the LORD with all your heart. Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own. As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.’ 1 Samuel 12:16-25

To help the Israelites fear God, Samuel called on God to make Himself be known and heard through thunder and rain, Proverbs 26:1, and it appears that the thunder and rain had the effect which Samuel wanted, they feared the Lord and were in awe of Him. The purpose of the thunder and the rain was also a sign from God that He didn’t agree with Israel wanting a physical king on earth when they had a heavenly King already.

Samuel reminds them that they weren’t to turn useless idols for protection, Isaiah 44:9 / 1 Corinthians 7:4. He reminds them that God will not forsake them not because of anything they do but for His own Name’s sake, Genesis 12:3.

Although the Lord wouldn’t forsake them, the reality was that they would forsake the Lord and when they do, they will bring the Name of God into shame among other nations, Exodus 20:7.

We can’t sit on the fence with God, we can’t claim we belong to Him but at the same time just live however we wish. The way we conduct ourselves should be a reflection of the God we serve.

Samuel’s love for God and his people is seen in the fact that he says it would be a sin for him if he didn’t pray for the people. He wants to teach them the way of good and right, that is God’s ways and what is right in God’s eyes.

He goes on to encourage them to consider what God has done for them in the past in an effort to encourage them to remain faithful to God and His will, Mark 12:29.

There are times when people need to be reminded of what they did in the past and although this can be embarrassing at times, it should also help us recognise what God has done for each of us in the past, 2 Peter 1:9.

What Samuel is doing here is asking them to think about why they wanted a physical earthly king in the first place, when God, their heavenly King has done so much for them in the past.

Notice the final warning which Samuel gives the people, if they persist in doing evil, both Israel as a nation and their king will perish. As we know this is exactly what is going to happen when the Assyrians and the Babylonians take them into captivity.

The good news is that Israel never asked for a physical king to rule over them after these events.

Go To 1 Samuel 13


"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship."