1 Samuel 12: Samuel

If ye will fear the Lord, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the Lord your God:1 Samuel 12:14 KJV

Samuel addresses Israel after Saul is crowned king.


1 Samuel 12 takes the focus of the book back to Samuel. After installing Saul as king, it is Samuel who delivers an address.

Set the Record Straight

Samuel wants to address any wrong that he has done now that Israel has its king and he (Samuel) has grown old. Samuel asks the Israelite if he has done any wrong by them. The Israelites confirm that Samuel has been good to them, and testify that Samuel has not acted against them. With this settled, Samuel asks if he can reason with them for a little while.

Samuel's speech retells Israel's history. Samuel emphasizes God's ability to lead the Israelites to victory and how God cleaned Israel's mess during the era of the judges. Samuel's speech is actually a reminder to the Israelites that they only ever needed God as their king. Despite the previous warning given to them, the crowd had gathered in awe of Saul, not of God, when time came to defeat the Ammonites. Now, the people would have their king, but Samuel reminded them that they still needed to fear the Lord and keep the Lord's commandments. Despite their bouts with wickedness, Israel had not lost God's hear. All they had to do was remember Him and keep his commandments and He would not depart from them.

Offending People Today

Asking if you've offended people seems a bit strange in the midst of a happy crowd. Of course, more than likely, you have. We all operate based on different values and cultures, which means we are prone to saying things that are culturally offensive. Many times, we don't know what we've done. Some are quick to point out the "stupidity" of what people are offended by, but as Christians, our duty is avoid unnecessarily causing offense. I say this because some people are offended by God and Jesus, yet we are not to hide our belief. The Bible instructs us on how to behave on both sides of the offense. We are told that we are not to take offense easily. This goes hand in hand with James 1:19 telling us to be slow to anger. Yet, we also aren't to be stumbling blocks, causing our brothers and sisters in Christ to take offense or become angry. Romans 12:18 tells us that we are not to be the source of strife among mankind. This means we should be careful of our actions and acknowledge when we have caused a problem we did not intend.

Samuel is doing just this. He is prompting the congregation to open his eyes to any wrongdoing he may have unintentionally done over the years he led them. Likely, if the Israelites had named something, Samuel would have done what he could to be make it right.

A Similar Speech

I find Samuel's speech interesting because I actually witnessed a pastor give a similar speech, though his was delivered with spite. Growing up, there were interesting politics at play in the church I attended. As a teenager, I knew they existed, but I wasn't really sure of all the facts; I just knew tension existed between this person and that person, never why. When I was in high school, the church fired the preacher, an event that did not come as a surprise to anyone.

In the pastor's farewell sermon, he, too, asked what he had done wrong. Unlike Samuel, however, this pastor didn't wait on the congregation's response. He flat out told us that he hadn't stolen anyone's wife or cursed anyone out. Most of the church was appalled by his aggressive speech. I think most people felt that he was accusing the church of wrongfully firing him. I had never cared for him as a preacher, not because he had done something wrong, but because he preached the same 2 or 3 sermons every month. Those of us on the youth choir had memorized some of them and gotten in trouble for repeating the sermon with him once in church.

As I've grown older, however, I understand more of the pastor's viewpoint. As I discussed in the section above, many times we don't know that we've offended people. Some people view this fact as "not my problem," while others seek to right any wrongs they have accidentally committed. Most people aren't out intentionally stepping on toes, and most consider themselves to be good people. Right or wrong, our pastor was the same way. From his perception he had been a good pastor and carried out his duties properly, only to be fired. If that was my point-of-view, I would have been mad, too.

In this chapter, Samuel is expressing a similar opinion both from his own personal position and from God's. God had been a great King for Israel: He had delivered them from Egypt, fed them, provided a land for them, and defeated armies for them. Yet, Israel wasn't satisfied, they were requesting an Earthly king. Samuel's questions about what he did wrong could be taken as confusion in Samuel's mind on whether it was his own actions that led Israel to this point, or a reflection of God's feelings on the matter. Surely God was asking Israel to think if He'd ever failed them.



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