December 14, 2016
1 Samuel 12
Shawn Bumpers / General
1 Samuel / 1 Samuel 12:1–25
Saul’s Coronnation, Samuel Reviews Israel’s Request and Issues Rebuke
In our last chapter, Nahash, the Ammonite ruler moved against the Israelite town of Jabesh-Gilead (Yavesh Gilad in Hebrew) in the Trans-Jordon territory of Gad.
He and his army had encircled the city to intimidate and besiege it.
The Hebrew word Yabesh means, “to dry up, become dry.”
1 Samuel 11:2 NKJV
And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, “On this condition I will make a covenant with you, that I may put out all your right eyes, and bring reproach on all Israel.”
And so he agreed to give the elders of the city some time to send out messengers to find help.
His real goal was to get the word spread to all Israel of how bad Nahash is … to strike fear into the hearts of the Israelites.
Messengers brought the news to Gibeah, where Saul was.
He was technically king, but the organization of the court of the king wasn’t really yet established.
He rallied the people of Gibeah and sent out word into all the land of Israel to come together to make war against Nahash.
The result was that Nahash was defeated and his oppression cast off, and Israel was rallied around their new king.
It is perhaps a wink in scripture at the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom, when Satan is bound up and Christ will rule all the earth for 1000 years.
Matthew 24:22 NKJV
And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.
By elect, Jesus referred to Jews, as no Gentile would have been concerned about keeping the Sabath.
In chapter 11, after Nahash was defeated, those who were supportive of Saul called for those Israelites who had opposed him to be put to death.
1 Samuel 11:13 NKJV
But Saul said, “Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the LORD has accomplished salvation in Israel.”
After the victory, Samuel called the people together to go to Gilgal, “And renew the kingdom there.”
Gilgal was the place of the first camp of Israel on the other side of the Jordan River.
It was also the place where the LORD told Joshua to circumcise the second generation of Israel … those who had been born in the Wilderness.
Just the idea of going back to Gilgal for such a significant event as the Coronation of their king signifies a newness … a renewal of the kingdom.
But Samuel’s plan wasn’t so much to put a spotlight on Saul, as it is to remind Israel that the LORD GOD was still their King.
The king was God’s servant for the people, and both king and people had to obey God’s covenant.
• In this chapter, Samuel is going to defend his own ministry.
• He’s going to review God’s blessings and care to Israel.
• And he’s going to admonish the people to fear the Lord and obey the covenant.
Now that all Israel has accepted Saul as king, Samuel has to withdraw somewhat, though he continues to exercise his prophetic ministry.
Samuel was the last of the line of judges.
He was what we would call a theocratic leader … he ruled strictly under the direction and in obedience to God.
This made Israel a Theocracy … a nation ruled by God.
Samuel was not a king … and he did not lord himself over the people.
But Israel did not realize how good they had it.
Samuel is telling them that he has faithfully fulfilled the function of leader.
And he has done everything openly, not in secret, but in the public eye and under constant scrutiny.
In Deuteronomy 17 God laid out some guidelines for the future king of Israel.
• He shall not multiply horses for himself
• He shall not multiply wives for himself
• He shall not multiply money to himself
• His heart should not be lifted above his brethren
And when Israel asked for a king, Samuel warned them of the behavior of the human king they desired (in chapter 8).
• He said this king would take their sons to man the kings chariots and horses.
• He said this king would take their daughters.
• He said this king would tax them heavily to fill his coffers.
• He said this king would make them his servants.
Did Samuel wonder whether he would have been better appreciated if he had been self-assertive and acquisitive?
But here Samuel says essentially, “You’ve watched me my whole career and have I behaved like that?”
And Samuel says, if I have done any of these things, “Witness against me before the Lord and before His anointed.”
Samuel essentially said, “I have not acted as a king” and the people agreed with him.
He had just called on the LORD and His anointed to be witnesses against him if he had done anything against them.
In asking for a king, the people had rejected the kingship of YHVH and the leadership of Samuel.
And it must have been very difficult for Samuel to hold this last convocation as leader of Israel to turn over authority to Saul.
For nearly 500 years the tribes of Israel had been ruled by Judges who were raised up by God as the need arose.
For most of the people at the assembly, Samuel had always been there.
Nearly his whole life, he had served the people.
John 8:46 NKJV
Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?
As we saw, the people bore witness before the LORD and His anointed that Samuel spoke the truth.
It contrasts with what Samuel said in verse 2, “And now here is the king, walking before you” speaking of Saul.
As a minister, I think what a wonderful thing it must be to be able to review your life and ministry and say:
John 17:4 NKJV
I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.
Look back at verse 5 … there is a verb there … “is.”
And they answered, “He IS witness.”
John 10:30 NKJV
I and My Father are one.”
Because of God’s anointed One … the Mashiach … the Messiah, whatever we have done, we are justified before the LORD.
Samuel is bringing up another witness and that is Israel’s history and how God has cared for them.
The author of Hebrews called upon believers to consider as witnesses those who have run the face of faith before us.
Hebrews 12:1 NKJV
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
And there are 2 ways we can think of this …
But the greater point is that we have this valuable resource in that we are not alone and we don’t have to live out our faith alone.
In the case of Israel, they have the testimony of history … specifically, “The righteous acts of the Lord which He did to you and your father.”
Every act of obedience, and every act of disbelief or apostasy, had repercussions that influenced the future.
Saul’s generation needed to see how they had been brought to their land, and had experienced both defeat and victory, depending on their loyalty to the Lord.
Even in the times of apostasy, once they turned to the Lord in repentance, He had sent deliverers.
I think sometimes we can forget the LORD.
Psalm 106:13–15 NKJV
They soon forgot His works;
They did not wait for His counsel,
But lusted exceedingly in the wilderness,
And tested God in the desert.
And He gave them their request,
But sent leanness into their soul.
When we move away from the Lord, He may reach out to us by allowing us to feel “lean in the soul.”
The sermon is making the important point that, despite the depths to which Israel fell, the Lord did not abandon them.
God put them under pressure from enemies so as to cause them to seek him.
And when they repented and cried out to the LORD, He raised up for them Judges … divinely appointed men and women who would save Israel from their oppressors.
Nahash was oppressing the tribes east of Jordan.
What Samuel is doing here is proving to the people that the Lord had been righteous and faithful always in His dealings with Israel.
Given the pattern of their history, the appropriate response should have been gratitude to the Lord and trust in Him for His continued care.
They should have confessed their sin of disbelief and trusted God alone.
And Samuel literally “prayed up a storm” to demonstrate for them the awesome power of the LORD.
This storm was during the dry season of the wheat harvest, which is mid-May to mid-June and corresponds to the feast of Shavuot.
Samuel moved from “Fear” to “Fear Not.”
He’s not minimizing Israel’s sin.
Yet, he does not want them to dwell on the sin of the past, but to get on walking with the LORD today.
We can’t do anything about yesterday.
And at the present moment we can’t serve God tomorrow.
At the present moment, all we can do is not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.
Samuel wants Israel to know that rejecting the LORD, and turning aside from Him, just doesn’t work.
John 6:68 NKJV
But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
Samuel says, “For the Lord will not forsake His people” and “Consider what great things He has done for you.”
Samuel wants Israel to know that God loves them.
This is why, despite the sins of their past, they can continue with serving the LORD and still be blessed by Him.