1 Samuel 12:15
But if you disobey the LORD and rebel against His command, then the hand of the LORD will be against you as it was against your fathers.
Samuel's Admonitions to IsraelB. Dale 1 Samuel 12:1-25
Samuel's Dealings with the PeopleW. G. Blaikie, D. D.1 Samuel 12:6-25
National Judgments the Consequence of National SinsW. Brickwell.1 Samuel 12:9-15
Unheeding Warnings Prepare for Judgment1 Samuel 12:9-15
Samuel's Farewell AddressMonday Club Sermon1 Samuel 12:13-25

1 Samuel 12:8-12. (GILGAL.)
This is an important chapter in the history of Israel. In it are set forth certain truths of universal import, which are also illustrated, though less distinctly, in the history of other nations. They are such as follows: -

1. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD (ver. 8). "It hath pleased the Lord to make you his people" (ver. 22). Of his own free and gracious will, always founded in perfect wisdom, he raises up a people from the lowest condition, confers upon them special blessings and privileges, and exalts them to the most eminent place among the nations of the earth (Deuteronomy 32:8; Acts 17:26, 27). As it was with Israel, so has it been with other peoples. His right so to deal with men cannot be questioned, his power therein is manifested, his undeserved goodness should be acknowledged, and the gifts bestowed employed not for selfish ends, but for his glory and the welfare of mankind.

II. THE SINFULNESS OF MEN. "They forgat the Lord their God" (ver. 9). So constantly and universally have men departed from God and goodness as to make it evident that there is in human nature an inherited tendency to sin. "It is that tendency to sinful passions or unlawful propensities which is perceived in man whenever objects of desire are placed before him, and laws laid upon him." As often as God in his great goodness has exalted him to honour, so often has he fallen away from his service; and left to himself, without the continual help of Divine grace, his course is downward. "In times past the Divine nature flourished in men, but at length, being mixed with mortal custom, it fell into ruin; hence an inundation of evils in the race" (Plato. See other testimonies quoted by Bushnell in 'Nature and the Supernatural'). "There is nothing in the whole earth that does not prove either the misery of man or the compassion of God; either his powerlessness without, or his power with God" (Pascal).

III. THE CERTAINTY OF RETRIBUTION. "He sold them into the hand of Sisera," etc. (ver. 9).

"The sword of Heaven is not in haste to smite,
Nor yet doth linger, save unto his seeming
Who, in desire or fear, doth look for it." -

(Dante, 'Par.' 22.) Morning by morning doth he bring his judgment to light; he faileth not (Zephaniah 3:5). "History is a voice forever sounding across the centuries the laws of right and wrong. Opinions alter, manners change, creeds rise and fall, but the moral law is written on the tablets of eternity. For every false word or unrighteous deed, for cruelty and oppression, for lust or vanity, the price has to be paid at last; not always by the chief offenders, but paid by some one. Justice and truth alone endure and live. Injustice and falsehood may be long lived, but doomsday comes at last to them in French revolutions and other terrible woes" (Froude, 'Short Studies').

IV. THE BENEFICENCE OF SUFFERING. "And they cried unto the Lord, and said, We have sinned," etc. (ver. 10). Underneath what is in itself an evil, and a result of the violation of law, physical or moral, there is ever working a Divine power which makes it the means of convincing men of sin, turning them from it, and improving their character and condition. A state of deepest humiliation often precedes one of highest honour. It is only those who refuse to submit to discipline (Job 36:10) and harden themselves in iniquity that sink into hopeless ruin.

V. THE EFFICACY OF PRAYER. "And the Lord sent...and delivered you," etc. (ver. 11). "Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses" (Psalm 107:6, 13, 19, 28). As it was with Israel throughout their history, so has it been with others, even those who have had but little knowledge of "the Hearer of prayer."

"In even savage bosoms
There are longings, yearnings strivings
For the good they comprehend not,
And the feeble hands and helpless,
Groping blindly in the darkness,
Touch God's right hand in that darkness,
And are lifted up and strengthened"

(The Song of Hiawatha')

VI. THE PREVALENCE OF MEDIATION. "Then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron" (ver. 8). "And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel" (ver. 11). He sent help by men specially raised up and appointed, and deliverance came through their labours, conflicts, and sufferings. One people also has been often made the medium of blessing to others. And herein we see a shadowing forth of the work of the great Mediator and Deliverer, and (in an inferior manner) of his people on behalf of the world.

VII. THE INCREASE OF RESPONSIBILITY on the part of those who have had the experience of former generations to profit by, and who have received higher privileges than they (vers. 12, 19). "Now all these things were written for our admonition," etc. (1 Corinthians 10:11). "Two things we ought to learn from history: one, that we are not in ourselves superior to our fathers; another, that we are shamefully and monstrously inferior to them if we do not advance beyond them" (Froude). - D.

Continue following the Lord your God.
It has been said that one reason (perhaps the chief one) why the late Emperor of Brazil was dethroned by his own subjects, was because he was a man of peaceful pursuits and tastes, fond of literature, science and art, and the society of learned men. Hence his government was too tame for his people. There was not enough of the Napoleonic spirit about him, not enough glitter and show, and martial array and warrior spirit, as if the chief end of a king was to assume a fighting attitude, and challenge everybody to mortal combat. The man, be he sovereign or subject, who labours in such peaceful pursuits as tend to develop the intelligence and material resources of a country, is a far greater benefactor of the race than all the despots who have ever cursed the world with their combativeness. But people sometimes, in their mad frenzy and folly, drive away their best advisers, or commit the blunder of selling their friends and buying their enemies. The clamour for a king showed deep ingratitude to Samuel, after all he had done for them, and all the evils he had saved them from. But "Memory soon, of service done, deserteth the ingrate." They had a pretext, it is true, in the bad conduct of Samuel's sons, and of this they failed not to take advantage. But Samuel had not himself abdicated the office of Judge, though his sons were associated with him as helpers. There was also in their demand a spirit of rebellion against the order of governors God Himself had set over them, and a spirit of inordinate ambition and pride in desiring to be like the rest of the nations round about them. Having equipped the vessel of the State, and arranged and settled the new form of government, he assembled all the people at Gilgal, that he might give them some counsels, cautions, and warnings as to the future. He reminds them of his own past career amongst them from his childhood. This was a glorious testimony to the justice, integrity, and humanity of the prophet's rule. Happy the ruler, by whatever name he may be called, king, emperor, or president, about whom such testimony can be borne, and happy the people, if they only knew it, who are blest with such rulers. King and people had now entered on a new career under the most favourable auspices, and what they needed most was the spirit of continuity — "Continue following the Lord your God." That is a beautiful prayer, in which we desire that all our works may be "begun, continued, and ended" in God, that thus living, and walking, and working, we may glorify His holy name, and finally by His mercy obtain everlasting life. It is not enough — though it is something — to begin well. We must continue and advance, and "not be wearied in well-doing." Sometimes a year or a day is well begun, and people resolve to "amend their lives," and determine to turn over a new page in life's book. Like the Galatians, they "run well" for a while. Continuity, or perseverance in human affairs is one great secret of success. Let the motto of the German soldier be yours, inmer vorwarts (ever forward). The influence of birth, fortune, and patronage sinks into insignificance, compared with enthusiasm, diligence, and perseverance. Inducements to evil there will be in plenty. The devil, the father of evil, will ply all his arts to succeed in our overthrow. Let us always be ready and prepared for him. "For some days past," said an eminent servant of God, "I have been unusually harassed by temptations of various kinds, and am often led to inquire, 'Why am I thus?'" So it is still: the Christian soldier is not only drilled and equipped, he is also placed in the field, and his qualities tried. Man's duty is simply to do as God tells him, neither adding to nor diminishing the Divine rule. But, in our ignorance and blindness, and presumption, we are for superseding or improving God's plan. It is not the high enterprise He desires, so much as the quiet, continuance in well-doing. Many of us would rather choose to climb the mountain side than plod along, steadily and wearily, miles of level road. Many would be willing, no doubt, to serve Him if they only might do it in their own way. But the thing God requires most of us all is to have no will but His. "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me." This is but an expansion by the Saviour of the warning advice of Samuel.

(J. Reid.)

Let those tempted to depart from the Lord remember the answer of Christian to Apollyon, when the latter sought to persuade him to turn back, and forsake his Lord: "O thou destroying Apollyon, to speak truth, I like his service, his wages, his servants, his government, his company, and country, better than thine; and, there. fore, leave off to persuade me further: I am his servant, and I will follow him."

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