Read 1 Samuel 12:1-13
Chapter 11 left off with Saul and the Israelites enjoying a great celebration. The nation banned together and defeated the Ammonites, then they honored Saul as their king and offered sacrifices to the Lord. What a day of celebration indeed, they had so much to be thankful for. I mean they had everything they could have ever wanted. They were living in the land of milk and honey and they had an earthly king. Yes, everything was falling into place perfectly.
There is one thing that is missing in this picture-perfect scene. Samuel wasn’t celebrating, he was preoccupied. Have you ever felt grieved in your spirit? Have you ever been in a situation where the people around you seem to be in great moods without a care in the world, yet you have a sinking feeling as though something is just not right? That’s the impression I get when reading this chapter. Israel and Saul are celebrating, notice there is no mention of Samuel celebrating.
Something just isn’t settled with Samuel so he gives a public address where he pours his heart out before his people. His Israelites have fully accepted this proud young king to walk before them and it stirs up some insecurities in Samuel, he cannot help but compare himself to Saul. He can’t ignore the pain he feels from the rejection of his people.
The thing is, just because you are anointed by the Lord and you hold a place of office in the ministry of the Lord does not mean that you have no feelings, or that the words of people don’t sting and inflict pain. Samuel is a prophet of the Lord, yet the rejection of his people, after all, what he has done for them is difficult for him to ignore.
Samuel begins to share his heart. He reminds the congregation how he has walked before them starting in his youth up to this present day, yet they demanded a king take his place. I’ve given you a king to take my place, he walks before you with all his strength and endurance, he’s everything you hoped for in a king. You all are excited and proud of this man. He remembers how the people once looked at him that way.
Samuel goes on, “Now I’m old and feeble. Not able to perform hard labor anymore. I’m a worn-out public servant that you all have cast aside for a new man”. The elder’s harsh words about his age, physical abilities, and even his sons are a sore point, and Samuel addresses’ all that here. He is painfully aware of his sons’ lack of reverence for the Lord, yet the elders thought it was something they needed to remind him of. It’s always interesting how “concerned” church people think they need to remind ministers of their shortcomings.
Samuel is still the Prophet over Israel, however, his job description is changing, because he will no longer be the sole authority over this nation. As if he is putting himself on trial he begins to defend himself. “Here I stand, testify against me”. I imagine him looking up toward heaven saying “before the Lord”, then immediately shifting his focus toward Saul, “and his anointed”. He puts himself on trial before the people who are his accusers. The Lord and Saul will be the judges. This will be the first time the word anointed is used as a reference to a king which points to the future king Jesus.
Samuel begins to demand that if he has committed any crimes or offenses that now is their opportunity to come forward. The main driving force here is that Samuel was a man of integrity, honesty, and impeccable morals. He has never defiled his reputation or the office which he held, yet the people wanted him replaced. They had no bases to replace him, yet they wanted someone else to lead them. He asks a series of questions which in his mind would give them a valid reason to have him dismissed. He asks if he has ever stolen, committed fraud, or oppressed them in any way.
Of course, the answer to those questions is a resounding no. To make it official, Samuel once again calls on the Lord and his anointed to agree as witnesses the people have cleared the name and character of Samuel. Do you realize how huge this is? This is epic.
Let me make this situation a little bit more relatable. In our day this would be equivalent to a preacher, minister, evangelist who has gained popularity among Christians because they carry the anointing of the Lord. Then along comes people who perhaps are jealous, or just plain miserable who decide to sow weeds by assaulting the minister’s character. They either outright blame ministers of sin or they raise suspicions which in some ways is worse because you become even more scrutinized.
Samuel was able to clear his name. Any person whose character suffered criticism would love to have this opportunity. Samuel not only cleared his name but the entire kingdom bore witness to just how upright this man was. It is difficult to read this and not be happy for Samuel. The man dedicated his life, he felt like he was cast aside and suspicions were surrounding him based on his sons’ lack of integrity. Yet, here he stands before God and king with an impeccable reputation.
(vs. 7) Samuel’s character has been established, but he has a few more things he needs to get off his chest. The people assumed Samuel was finished and they started moving around, he was losing their attention and he tells them to stand still. “Don’t go anywhere”, he says. “I’m not done with you yet”. Samuel confronts the nation and reminds them of all the benefits they received from the Lord. He points out how they rejected the Lord and despite that, the Lord has shown mercy toward them, Samuel gives several examples of various calamities that came over Israel and how the Lord delivered them.
As soon as the Israelites were aware of their sin and rebellion they would return to their first love. The Lord was always quick to come to their rescue. He was moved with mercy and compassion for those misguided people and He would defeat their enemy for them. Samuel even reminds them that he was the one who interceded on their behalf to gain victory over the Philistines. It was because of him that they didn’t continue to attack.
Regardless of all that, it was their most recent situation that was most hurtful. The Ammonites began putting pressure on the Israelites and instead of seeking the Lord as their king, and instead of trusting Samuel’s position, they asked for a man to be their king instead. They rejected Samuel as their Godly representative and rejected God as their king.
They tied the Lord’s hands so he gave his children what they wanted. They wanted a king, he appointed a king.
Now here stands Samuel next to Saul (vs 13). Samuel lifting his hand toward Saul, nodding his head he says, “Now, here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the Lord has set a king over you.”