The People’s Choice

KEY VERSE: “Fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart; for consider how great things he hath done for you.” —I Samuel 12:24


WHEN God began dealing with the nation of Israel, he brought them under a very unique form of government which is properly called a theocracy, and as implied, the government was headed by God. When the Israelites were in the wilderness, the administration of the government was by Moses, the mediator of the Law Covenant. Later this function was given to special holy men of old called judges whom the Lord raised up to accomplish a special work or to deliver the nation of Israel when they were sorely oppressed. Samuel was one of these judges. He served as a prophet and a judge almost all of his life.

The Israelites tired of this arrangement, however, and desired to have a king, like the heathen nations who were their neighbors. Their insistence on the matter made Samuel distraught, for he felt that the people were rejecting him and his many years of faithful service. We read the account in I Samuel 8:6-9, “The thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods; so do they also unto thee. Now therefore, hearken unto their voice; howbeit, yet protest solemnly unto them, and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.”

Our lesson today is the account of Samuel fulfilling the Lord’s command to admonish Israel as to the seriousness of their decision. In I Samuel 12: 1-5 the prophet defends himself and his long life of service to them. We quote in part from this text, “Behold, here I am; witness against me before the Lord, and before his anointed: Whose ox have I taken or whose ass have I taken, or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed, or of whose hand have received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith and I will restore it you?” (vs. 3) The children of Israel acknowledged that they could find no fault with him as a person or with his ministry.

Then in verses 6-15, Samuel admonishes the nation concerning the faithfulness of the Lord. He reminds them how God had delivered them from Egypt and began to deal with them as a people, and how all during the ensuing years, up until that very day, they had not been very mindful of the Lord’s commandments. Because of their repeated unfaithfulness the Lord often punished them, yet, in every case when they had cried out unto him and repented, the Lord forgave them and delivered them from their trial. In verses thirteen and fifteen we read, “Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! And behold, the Lord hath set a king over you. 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: But if ye will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then shall the hand of the Lord be against you as it was against your fathers.”

Then Samuel called upon the Lord to perform a miracle before the eyes of the people, and the Lord caused a great rain to come upon the land, even though it was during the dry time of the harvest. The miracle frightened the people and they said, “Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.” (vs. 19) Apparently the warning by Samuel had awakened the children of Israel to the enormity of their transgression against the Lord.

Lest the children of Israel become discouraged because of their sin, Samuel assured them that even under the new arrangement, the Lord would bless them if they would but be faithful to the commandments.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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