1Samuel 12:12-25

Sunday Morning Bible Study

January 20, 2002


Samuel has been God’s man, judging the nation of Israel.  As he grew old, the people did not want Samuel’s sons taking his place because they had obtained a reputation as being crooked.  So the people asked for a king.  It grieved Samuel, but it grieved God even more.  God knew that the people were really rejecting Him as being their sovereign.  But God decided to give the people what they wanted.  We saw last week the interesting way in which God worked to pick out the first king.  It started with lost donkeys.  And as Saul was looking for his father’s donkeys, he ended up running into the prophet Samuel, who declared to Saul that he would be the nation’s king.  Saul had difficulty accepting that God would want him to be king.

We’ll see tonight how God establishes Saul’s kingdom and makes it pretty certain that Saul is indeed to be their king.  When the Ammonites threaten one of the cities of Israel, Saul forms an army and saves the day.  After the victory, the nation is gathered together to take another step as a kingdom, and Samuel addresses the people.  One of the things Samuel is going to do is show the people how they have turned from trusting in the Lord to instead trusting in a king.  He will remind the people how faithful God had been when God was their king.  Every time they had gotten into trouble and had called on the Lord, the Lord had come through.  But this time, when the king of the Ammonites had threatened …

1Samuel 12:12-15

:12 ye saw … Nahash … Nay; but a king shall reign over us

This time, when the trouble came, instead of crying to God for Him to deliver them, they chose their own plan.  They decided what needed to be done instead of the Lord.  This time they opted for a king to help them instead of God.

:13 Now therefore behold the king …whom ye have desired!

God has given you what you asked.

:14-15 If ye will fear the LORD, and serve him …But if ye will not obey the voice of the LORD


God can work even in our bad choices

Samuel is laying out the two choices before the people.
Even though they have sinned in why they have asked for a king, God is still willing to help them.
Sometimes we can come to the conclusion that we’ve made a bad decision.  And we can feel like we’ve gotten ourselves into such a mess that nothing can ever work out.  Not so.
Even though the people have done wrong in asking for a king, God is extending them grace so that if they would turn to the Lord and obey the Lord, then God will work through their king.


:17 I will call unto the LORD, and he shall send thunder and rain

In Israel, the beginning of the wheat harvest occurs at the end of June and the beginning of July.  It seldom rains during that time.  The sky is usually cloudless.

Why is Samuel doing these things?

Samuel is trying to impress the people with the notion that the things he’s saying are from God.

It’s important that the people don’t go away from this gathering with the idea that Samuel is simply upset because he’s now out of a job as leader of the nation.

It’s important for the people to realize the truth that they have sinned and they need to seek the Lord.

:17 your wickedness is great

Though the idea of having a king wasn’t wrong (God had suggested it in Deut. 17), their timing was premature and their motives were wrong.


A good idea needs the right time and the right motive.

Sometimes we get some pretty good ideas going through our heads.  But we ought to stop and ask ourselves, “Is this the right time?”  “Is my heart in the right place?”
God cares about our motives.  Paul wrote,
(1 Cor 13:1-3 KJV)  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. {2} And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. {3} And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

I could do all sorts of things, but if I am not doing them for the right reasons, with love, then they are worthless.

:18 So Samuel called … the LORD sent thunder and rain


The power of prayer

This wasn’t the only time God would use a prophet to affect the weather.
(1 Ki 17:1 KJV)  And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.
God would use a time of drought to get the nation’s attention.  To make sure the people realized that God was behind the drought, He used Elijah to announce it before it happened.
(1 Ki 18:1 KJV)  And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, show thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.
God had the people’s attention.  Elijah called the people to meet on top of Mount Carmel, where he proposed a sort of “prayer-duel”.  It would be Elijah and God against the prophets of Baal.  Whoever was able to get their “god” to send fire from heaven was the winner.  Though the prophets of Baal prayed and danced and cut themselves, nothing happened the entire day.  Finally, about three in the afternoon, it was Elijah’s turn.  He set up a simple altar, laid out the sacrifice, and soaked everything in water so no one would think he was using flammable animals, and then he prayed:
(1 Ki 18:36-38 KJV)  And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word. {37} Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again. {38} Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
The people got the hint and turned to the Lord.  Later that day, it was time to pray for rain.  Elijah prayed seven times, and finally the drops started coming.
(1 Ki 18:45 KJV)  And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel.
Amazing?  Sounds like it to me.
(James 5:16-18 KJV)  Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. {17} Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. {18} And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
Elijah may have been an amazing person, but he was an “ordinary” person, just like you and I.  Do you believe it?  I find it hard to believe.  I like to think that Elijah was some sort of superman, and that’s why I don’t have to pray like he does.  But the Bible says he was just like me.  Hmmmm.
In his book Miracles in Black, Dr. John C. Wengatz tells of an African convert who was left at a new mission station to carry on the Lord’s work with a cannibal tribe.  It was the dry season when Joao Mbaxi took over, but soon the tropical rains would be coming.  Month after month went by, however, without a cloud appearing in the sky. Then came the time for the normal dry period.  By now everyone was suffering, and many were on the brink of starvation.  In all the years they had worshiped their ancient gods, the rains had never failed them, and so Joao was told that he must leave the country and take “the white man’s God” with him.  The courageous Christian refused to go.  Then, flushed with anger, the chief sullenly warned, “If your God is as good as you say and so powerful that He rules the sky, why doesn’t He send us the needed showers?  If it doesn’t rain by sunrise tomorrow, we will drink your blood and eat your flesh!”
Recalling the Biblical account of Elijah, Joao went to his hut and prayed for divine help with the same urgency as that of the ancient prophet.  Meanwhile the members of the tribe waited for the dawn when the Christian leader would become the victim of their horrible feast. Just before daylight, thunder was heard in the distance, lightning flashed across the sky, and abundant rain refreshed the entire region! As a result, the believer was able to continue his work for Christ.

When Elijah was finished with his ministry, his servant Elisha took his place.  Just before being taken away in a fiery chariot to heaven, Elijah and Elisha had crossed the Jordan River by Elijah simply striking the waters with his coat, and the waters parted.  When Elijah left, he left his coat, his mantle behind for Elisha.

(2 Ki 2:14 KJV)  And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and smote the waters, and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? and when he also had smitten the waters, they parted hither and thither: and Elisha went over.

Where is the God of Elijah?  He’s still around.  It’s really not a question of where God is, it’s a question of whether we will call on Him like Elijah.


:19  for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.

The people get the point.  They realize that they’ve handled things wrongly.

:21 And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain.


Worthless things.

Turning to the wrong things won’t help you.
(Jer 2:13 KJV)  For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
In the Holy Land, because of the lack of water, the people would collect rain water in huge underground reservoirs, called cisterns.  They were carved into the rock and the people would divert the rain water into the cisterns to store it.  But woe to the person who spends all this time carving out a cistern that doesn’t hold any water.  A lot of work for nothing.
In contrast, God is like a fountain of living waters, an artesian well, a source of fresh bubbling water.
Sometimes we look at the wrong things to survive.  We need to look to the Lord.
Howard Rutledge, a United States Air Force pilot, was shot down over North Vietnam during the early stages of the war.  He spent several miserable years in the hands of his captors before being released at the war's conclusion.
In his book In the Presence of Mine Enemies, he reflects upon the resources from which he drew in those arduous days when life seemed so intolerable.

“During those longer periods of enforced reflection it became so much easier to separate the important from the trivial, the worthwhile from the waste.  For example, in the past, I usually worked or played hard on Sundays and had no time for church.  For years Phyllis (his wife) had encouraged me to join the family at church.  She never nagged or scolded -- she just kept hoping.  But I was too busy, too preoccupied, to spend one or two short hours a week thinking about the really important things.

Now the sights and sounds and smells of death were all around me. My hunger for spiritual food soon out-did my hunger for a steak.  Now I wanted to know about that part of me that will never die.  Now I wanted to talk about God and Christ and the church.  But in Heartbreak (the name POWs gave their prison camp) solitary confinement, there was no pastor, no Sunday School teacher, no Bible, no hymnbook, no community of believers to guide and sustain me.  I had completely neglected the spiritual dimension of my life.  It took prison to show me how empty life is without God.”

-- Howard Rutledge and Phyllis Rutledge with Mel White and Lyla White, In the Presence of Mine Enemies

Are you filling your life with good things or empty things?

:22 it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.


God is pleased with you

Even though the people have sinned, God still loves this people. Even though we were enemies of God, Jesus died for us.
(Col 1:19-22 NLT)  For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, {20} and by him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of his blood on the cross. {21} This includes you who were once so far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions, {22} yet now he has brought you back as his friends. He has done this through his death on the cross in his own human body. As a result, he has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.
It was 1944, and Bert Frizen was an infantryman on the front lines in Europe. American forces had advanced in the face of intermittent shelling and small-arms fire throughout the morning hours, but now all was quiet. His patrol reached the edge of a wooded area with an open field before them. Unknown to the Americans, a battery of Germans waited in a hedgerow about two hundred yards across the field.
Bert was one of two scouts who moved out into the clearing. Once he was halfway across the field, the remainder of his battalion followed. Suddenly the Germans opened fire, and machine gun fire ripped into both of Bert’s legs. The American battalion withdrew into the woods for protection, while a rapid exchange of fire continued.
Bert lay helplessly in a small stream as shots volleyed overhead. There seemed to be no way out. To make matters worse, he now noticed that a German soldier was crawling toward him. Death appeared imminent; he closed his eyes and waited. To his surprise, a considerable period passed without the expected attack, so he ventured opening his eyes again. He was startled to see the German kneeling at his side, smiling. He then noticed that the shooting had stopped. Troops from both sides of the battlefield watched anxiously. Without any verbal exchange, this mysterious German reached down to lift Bert in his arms and proceeded to carry him to the safety of Bert’s comrades.
Having accomplished his self-appointed mission, and still without speaking a word, the German soldier turned and walked back across the field to his own troop. No one dared break the silence of this sacred moment. Moments later the cease-fire ended, but not before all those present had witnessed how one man risked everything for his enemy.
Bert’s life was saved through the compassion of a man whom he considered his enemy. This courageous act pictures what Jesus did for us.

- Lynn McAdam, West Germany.  Leadership, Vol. 17, no. 4.

We know can tell that God loves us because of His actions.

(Rom 5:8 KJV)  But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

:23  God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you:

In Samuel, we can see two qualities of a spiritual leader:  Prayer, and Teaching.


Don’t stop praying.

The implication is that Samuel has been continually praying for the people.  And he isn’t about to stop.
There actually is a time that God told someone to stop praying.  God told Jeremiah:
(Jer 7:16 KJV)  Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me: for I will not hear thee.

God had gotten to the place with the nation where He was going to bring judgment and nothing was going to stop it.

But that is the exception to the rule.  As a general rule, a spiritual leader will pray for his flock.  It would be a sin not to.
Samuel is considered in the Psalms as a man of prayer:
(Psa 99:6 KJV)  Moses and Aaron among his priests, and Samuel among them that call upon his name; they called upon the LORD, and he answered them.
Even though Samuel’s role is changing, he won’t stop praying.

:23  but I will teach you the good and the right way:


Don’t stop teaching.

Samuel knew that he wasn’t just to pray.  He was to teach.
The early church knew of these priorities.  As things began to grow in the early church, the apostles asked the church for helpers so they could devote their time to what was important.  They said,
(Acts 6:4 KJV)  But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

:25 But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.


Don’t ignore the warnings

God doesn’t warn people without a reason.  When God warns, it’s because there’s a danger.
If you sense God warning you, pay attention.
The story goes that a big storm was on the horizon, and the police cars went through the small farming community to warn the citizens to head for high ground. Farmer Bill heard the warning, but decided that he was just going to stay put and trust God. When the rain began to fall, and the water began to rise, the firemen came by in a boat, offering to evacuate Farmer Bill, but he said, “No, I’m going to stay put and trust God.” Finally, as Bill had to climb out onto his roof to get away from the raging flood, a helicopter came by offering assistance, but Farmer Bill stayed put. When Bill got to heaven, he was kind of ticked off at God.  He said to God, “How come you didn’t rescue me from the flood when I trusted you!” God gently replied, “Bill, I sent a police car, a rescue boat, and a helicopter.  What did you expect?”