FORMER TRANSGRESSIONS DO NOT DOOM YOU TO PRESENT FAILURE AS LONG AS YOU CHOOSE TO FEAR THE LORD AND SERVE HIM RIGHT NOW
How does my past affect my potential for God’s blessing in the present? That is a common question. People feel that they have blown it so badly in the past that there is no way that God can ever bless them again. So why even try to fear God and walk in faith and obedience? Sense of hopelessness and despair … No people frustrated God more than His chosen nation of Israel. Their history documents the consistent pattern of God’s blessing and protection followed by the people’s idolatry and departure from His ways. Samuel addresses that situation here as he provides hope for a fickle nation and yet warns them at the same time.
Piper: “Then in chapter 12 comes Samuel’s inauguration speech, and it was not exactly what the people wanted to hear! He does have some astonishingly good news for them. But before he tells them he wants to make sure that they know and feel the magnitude of the evil they have done in wanting to be like the other nations and being dissatisfied with God as their king.”
I. (:1-5) THE INTEGRITY OF SAMUEL LEAVES GOD’S PEOPLE WITH NO ROOM FOR EXCUSES – REVIEW OF SAMUEL’S RIGHTEOUS DEALINGS WITH ISRAEL
A. (:1a) He Responded to the Requests of the People
“Behold, I have listened to your voice in all that you said to me”
– Accessible Leader
– Good Listener
B. (:1b-2a) He Provided the King Which the People Wanted – Transfer of Political Leadership
“I have appointed a king over you. And now, here is the king walking before you.”
Difficult thing for a leader to transfer power.
C. (:2b-3) He Maintained a Consistent Track Record of Integrity and Righteousness
“Here I am; bear witness against me before the Lord and His anointed”
Speak now, or forever hold your peace.
Samuel has come to the end of the line and he challenges the people to point out any type of misconduct or extortion or oppression.
He appeals to his age and his experience and his wisdom to give him a credible hearing now on this important subject.
D. (:4-5) He Received the Stamp of Approval from the People (Witnessed by God)
“You have not defrauded us, or oppressed us, or taken anything from any man’s hand”
(in contrast to the ministry of Eli’s sons or even his own sons)
Guzik: “Why does Samuel do what seems to be a purely self-justifying and self-glorifying thing? From what we know of the character of Samuel in other passages, we have to believe this is more than him saying, ‘Look at how good I am.’ Instead, it seems that Samuel wants the nation to know that he has passed a good legacy of leadership to the new king Saul. He wants Israel to recognize that he hasn’t handed Saul a mess that he has to clean up. If Saul should prove to be a poor leader, no one could say it was because of the bad example set by Samuel.”
II. (:6-13) THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD LEAVES GOD’S PEOPLE WITH NO ROOM FOR EXCUSES – REVIEW OF GOD’S RIGHTEOUS DEALINGS WITH ISRAEL – CYCLE OF FAILURE
“So now, take your stand, that I may plead with you before the Lord concerning all the righteous acts of the Lord which He did for you and your fathers.”
Blaikie: “Their existence as a people and their settlement in Canaan were due to the special mercy of the Lord. If ever a nation owed everything to the power above, Israel owed everything to Jehovah.”
A. (:6-9) Cycle 1: Early History of the Nation:
Cry for Help / the Lord’s Response / People’s Failure / God’s Judgment
1. (:8a) Starting with the Cries for Help from Jacob
2. The Lord’s Response: Moses and Aaron and Redemption from Egypt
3. (:9a) People’s Failure: “But they forgot the Lord their God”
4. (:9b) God’s Judgment: people oppressed by foreign powers
B. (:10-13) Cycle 2: Period of the Judges
Cry for Help / the Lord’s Response / People’s Failure / God’s Judgment
1. (:10) Repeated Cries for Help
“We have sinned because we have forsaken the Lord and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth; but now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve Thee.”
2. (:11) Repeated Response from the Lord: Sent Various Judges
“Then the Lord sent Jerubbaal and Bedan and Jephthah and Samuel, and delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around, so that you lived in security.”
Guzik: “Youngblood feels that one reason Gideon is mentioned is ‘because he specifically refused to establish dynastic as opposed to divine rule over his countrymen . . . for which refusal he must surely have been one of Samuel’s heroes.’”
3. (:12) People’s Failure: Rejection of the Theocracy
“When you saw that Nahash the king of the sons of Ammon came against you, you said to me, ‘No but a king shall reign over us.’ Although the Lord your God was your king.”
4. (:13) God’s Judgment: Gave the People What they Wanted
“Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen, whom you have asked for, and behold, the Lord has set a king over you.”
III. (:14-18) THE KEY PRINCIPLE FOR GOD’S BLESSING IS PRESENT OBEDIENCE: FEAR HIM AND SERVE HIM RIGHT NOW
A. (:14) Statement of the Key Principle
“If you will fear the Lord and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the Lord, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God.”
B. (:15) Corresponding Warning
“And if you will not listen to the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the command of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers.”
C. (:16-18) Confirming Sign: Was rejecting the theocracy really such a bad thing in the eyes of God?
“Then you will know and see that your wickedness is great which you have done in the sight of the Lord by asking for yourselves a king.”
Guzik: “Because it was the wheat harvest, the sign displayed not only God’s power, but His judgment also. Heavy rain during the harvest could destroy all their crops. The sign was a warning. ‘In that part of the world not only is rain in harvest . . . not fitting (Prov. 26:1), it is so totally unexpected that it could easily be interpreted as a sign of divine displeasure.’ (Youngblood)”
Davis: “A special sign was given to confirm the validity of this message. Thunder and rain came during the time of the wheat harvest, which was most unusual since the wheat harvest came about the end of May and early June, long after the latter rain.”
People ask the same thing today: Is this plurality of elder thing really such a big deal? Can’t we just set up any form of church government which makes sense to us and which we feel has the best chance for success?
Deffinbaugh: “The Israelites look upon their king as their deliverer. In their minds, this king is the key to success. They believe he will deliver them from their oppressors, and he will bring the nation into prosperity. God reminds Israel that, ultimately, He is both the source of their distress, and He is the source of their blessings. Calamity comes upon the nation because of their sin. Blessing does not come upon the nation for its righteousness, but because of God’s mercy and grace. Their prosperity is not due to Israel’s doing good, but because in Israel’s suffering, she cries out to God for deliverance. Israel’s devotion to God and her serving Him is the outgrowth of God’s grace, not the source of God’s blessings. . .
The Israelites have placed too much stock in their new king, and Samuel’s words and deeds put this into its proper perspective . . .”
IV. (:19-25) REINFORCEMENT OF THE KEY PRINCIPLE AND CORRESPONDING WARNING
A. (:19) Fear of the Lord Stirred Up
“Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, so that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil by asking for ourselves a king.”
B. (:20-21) Reinforcement of the Key Principle and Corresponding Warning
C. (:22) The Lord Will Not Abandon You
D. (:23) Samuel Will Not Abandon You
E. (:24-25) Reinforcement of the Key Principle and Corresponding Warning