Proverbs 27:17

Proverbs 27:17

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

1 Samuel 12:6-7 (Daily Verse and Comment)

  1 Samuel 12:6-7

(6) Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the LORD who raised up Moses and Aaron, and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt. (7) Now therefore, stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous acts of the LORD which He did to you and your fathers: 
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I Samuel 12 is instructive on the subject of finding a still, quiet place in a hectic world. It recounts a major event in the history of Israel, and the prophet Samuel twice advises the Israelites to be still so that they could think deeply about the course they were taking. We would be wise to take his advice before making any major change of direction in life.

In I Samuel 8, the people had gathered to demand that Samuel give them a king just as all the other nations had. Besides being a prophet, Samuel was also Israel's judge at the time, and being old, he had turned most of his duties over to his two sons. However, unlike the incorruptible Samuel, their services went to the highest bidders. Even so, Samuel was quite distressed when Israel asked for a king because he understood that their request was a thinly veiled rejection of God (I Samuel 8:7). He also knew that a king would eventually accrue to himself the nation's wealth and power and essentially enslave the populace. Nevertheless, God told Samuel to comply with their request.

After installing Saul as king, Samuel says, "It is the LORD who raised up Moses and Aaron, and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt" (I Samuel 12:6). Perhaps this seems self-evident. Still, he is setting the stage for his main point, ensuring that they understood that God was behind everything that had ever happened in the history of Israel—certainly, He had orchestrated her most seminal events. God had called and trained Moses and Aaron for their work in freeing Israel from Egyptian bondage, and in a way, Samuel alludes to the fact that God had raised him, too, as judge and prophet. In other words, he has the full backing of God.

Then he gives them a piece of advice: "Now therefore, stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous acts of the LORD, which He did to you and your fathers" (I Samuel 12:7). They had just crowned their first king, and they were very excited, caught up in the festivities. They had also just won a huge victory over one of their enemies, and they were aglow with jubilation and a feeling of invincibility. Being united under a king made this a new age for the land of Israel—these were exciting times! But Samuel says, "Everyone, be quiet. Calm down and let me reason with you."

Then he reiterates what God had done for them in bringing them out of Egypt and into the wilderness. After they entered the land, they had trouble with oppressive foreigners, and God had raised up judges to give them victories and shake off the oppression. Yet, free and prosperous, Israel soon forgot God, committed idolatry, and once again became enslaved. God had delivered them by the hand of a new judge, and this pattern of prosperity, apostasy, oppression, and deliverance repeated itself many times. The history of Israel was one of God's blessing and mercy and their perfidy and rebellion, which God countered by punishing them. This pattern, Samuel warns, would continue even though they now had a king:

Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired. And take note, the LORD has set a king over you. If you fear the LORD and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the LORD your God. However, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers. (I Samuel 12:13-15)

Then, the prophet repeats his advice for them to stand still, this time to "see this great thing which the LORD will do before your eyes" (verse 16). Samuel calls for God to send thunder and rain. What makes this storm miraculous is that Saul's coronation took place during the wheat harvest in late spring—around Pentecost—when the dry season had already begun. Thunderstorms in May or early June were unheard of, but "the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel" (I Samuel 12:18).

This miracle showed the people that God backed Samuel's every word. His was a true saying from a trustworthy prophet of God. If they would listen to reason, they could take instruction from his address and use it to their benefit. If they would remain faithful to God, the monarchy they had asked for could work, just as it had worked under the righteous judges. However, if they failed to listen, this system was no better than the last one, and they would once again be oppressed, enslaved, and scattered.

Notice the Israelites' reaction: "And all the people said to Samuel, 'Pray for your servants to the LORDyour God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves'" (I Samuel 12:19). Once they stood still, they began to realize what they had done, and God's added "ka-boom" from heaven drove the point home.

Samuel's warning was tremendously serious, and the Israelites needed to be still to perceive just how far they had strayed from understanding and doing God's will. In their previous agitated, excited state, they could not truly listen to him, and they certainly could not see godly reason. The same holds true for us in these tumultuous times. If we really want to know what God is trying to tell us, we need to calm down, be still, and listen intently to His Word.

— Richard T. Ritenbaugh

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