You may have a king but trust the Lord

1 Samuel 12:12-22 SCC 12/14/14



Samuel had not given the people occasion to demand a king

Why did Samuel feel the need to justify his behavior publicly?

1. Perhaps he knew that because the people had rebelled against God by demanding a king they would experience discipline from the Lord. When it came he did not want anyone to think he was responsible for it.

2.Also, it is likely that Samuel took the peopleís request for a king as a personal rejection of himself. He probably wanted to show the people that they had no reason to reject him because of his behavior. No one concludes that living a life of commitment to God, as he had lived, would bring Godís discipline. The discipline to come would be a result of the sin of the people, not Samuel.

3. He was also seeking to vindicate the type of rule he represented that was Godís will for Israel then. Here a keyword is the verb take v 3. If kingship was to be characterized by the tendency to take rather than to give (1 Sam 8), it was otherwise with the prophet. As he stepped down from high office, Samuelís hands were empty v 5. If Samuel is found ďnot guiltyĒ of all the charges the Israelites have made against him, then by inference Israel must be guilty of having falsely made these charges.

NB: Basically four biblical priorities to live by depending upon the season of your life.


Neither had God given the people occasion to demand a king.

1. Samuel scans Israelís history from the day of the nationís birth at the exodus to the present moment, when Israel now has the king they demanded v 6. Citing illustrations from the major periods (the exodus and Israelís wilderness wanderings, the possession of the land under Joshua, and the period of the judges), Samuel seeks to demonstrate a very consistent pattern of behavior on Israelís part, and on Godís part in dealing with His people v 7-8. One cannot pin negligence on God.

2. Although God graciously gives His people deliverance from their enemies, Israel forgets God v 9. So the Mosaic Covenant stipulated that God give the nation over to its neighbors, enemies and oppressors who afflict Godís people (Sisera, Philistines and Eglon). Deuteronomyís message: do not forget God!

3. The Israelites then acknowledge their sin and cry out to Him for deliverance, which He graciously grants v 10. The point: it was not Moses and Aaron who delivered the Israelites from Egyptian bondage -- it was God. It was God who ďappointed Moses,Ē and it was God who ďbrought their fathers out from the land of Egypt.Ē From the very beginning, it has never been men Ė not even great men like Moses Ė who were Israelís deliverers, it was God. He cites instance after instance of Godís care and protection of His people, as their King v 11. The aftermath: so that you lived in security v 11.


1. In verse 12, Samuel links the history he has just recited to the present situation. Like the Israelites of old, Godís people are once again oppressed by a neighboring nation. Samuel seems to stress the fact that something ďsnappedĒ when Nahash and the Ammonites attacked Israel. Somehow he managed to terrorize them, so that they felt a king was necessary. The response of the Israelites of Samuelís day to this threat is not like the Israelites he has just described in the preceding verses. They understood that the oppression they suffered at the hands of their enemies was due to their sin. The Israelites of old repented of their sin and cried out to God for deliverance.

2. This is not so with those who now stand before Samuel at Gilgal. These folks do not acknowledge that the reason for their troubles is sin. They attribute their problems to bad leadership, specifically Samuel and his sonsí ďbad leadership.Ē Their solution is not to repent of their sin and cry out to God for deliverance; their solution is to get rid of Samuel and obtain a king just like the other nations have! Notice the ďNoĒ at the beginning of the Israelitesí response to Samuel in verse 12. They do not want deliverance Godís way; they want deliverance their way. Well, Israel has their king, but Godís people must know that their demands for a king constituted a most serious sin. It was a failure to trust God. It was putting their trust in a man, rather than in God.

3. In spite of the sin Israel commits against God by asking for a king, God is gracious to His people. Samuel tells the people that Saul is their king, not His king. This king is the one they have chosen, the one for whom they ask v 13. God sets this one over them as king, but he is their king. Samuel seems to say that the obedience of the nation to the command of the Lord is the key to national peace and prosperity -- not the prowess of their leader v 14. The king is not the key to Israelís success. The key is Israelís trust in and obedience to her God v 15of the Lordí repeated three times here).

4. In a fashion, which appears Elijah-like, Samuel announces divine judgment as an indication of the seriousness of Israelís sin in asking for a king, which is imminent v 16-17. Though it is not the time for storms or great rain, in response to Samuelís prayer, a great thunderstorm breaks upon the nation. The storm is a reminder that Samuel is Godís prophet, and that rejecting him is not a good idea. It gives great emphasis to Samuelís words, which exposes the demand for a king as a sin. The outcome of Samuelís preaching and especially the storm is the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel v 18.

NB: Judgment and favor is tied to the land for Israel. The lands bounty is dependent upon Israelís obey.


1. The peopleís rebellion against God was not something they could undo v 19. First, notice that the people do not look to their king for deliverance, but to Samuel. The Israelites now recognize that their foremost problem is not political leadership, but sin. For this, they request Samuel to pray to the Lord on their behalf. Samuel is known as a man of prayer Jer 15:1; Psa 99:6.

2. Second, Samuel urges the people of Israel to trust in God rather than in men. Nevertheless Samuel counseled them to follow and serve the Lord faithfully from then on v 20. They should not fear that God would abandon them because of their sin of demanding a king.

3. Without minimizing the magnitude of their sin, Samuel gives them good reason for faith, hope, and endurance. They must not ďturn aside from following the LordĒ v 20, but they must turn aside from going after ďfutile things which can not profit or deliverĒ v 21. Specifically, this is a king who trusts and serves in place of God. It is not wrong, per se, to have a king. It is wrong to trust in any man for deliverance. Only God can truly save and deliver. He would not cast them off because He had promised to stay with them and had committed Himself to them. His name (reputation) would suffer if He abandoned them v 22. NB: God risks his reputation based upon our lives.

4. Third, Samuel urges the Israelites to trust in God, whose faithfulness is the basis for their hope and salvation v 23-24. Israelís obedience and service to God is spoken of as the result of Godís grace, not its cause. God comes to the rescue of His sinful people because they ďcried outĒ for Godís deliverance, not because they are worthy of it v 8, 10. Even so, God was willing to grant their request and give them a king, and to continue to keep His covenant with them. The change to a monarchy, however, did not set aside the Mosaic Covenant and its requirements. God would continue to bless Israel if they and their king obeyed His commandments v 24. If they or their king rebelled against His commandments, then God would bring judgment on them v 25.


God actively disciplines His people when they sin. God consistently chides us to correct our lives and keep us on the right path. God does not punish is. He attempts to correct us. We punish ourselves.

Be careful not to secularize sin. The Israelites fail to discern that their problems (the oppression they experience from the neighboring nations) are of divine origin, and that it is divine discipline of their sin. It was not the result of inadequate leadership but sin. Sin is a spiritual issue not a secular one. We are not higher animals who can be trained and engineered but spiritual creatures needing regeneration.

God is our ultimate and final leader. We idolize our leaders and put our faith in them rather than in God. God is the ultimate source of our trials and testingís and chastening, and blessing.

Our greatest battle is forgetting God and slighting Him. I like to hike and often I say Ďlook upí because it is natural to keep head down to watch steps and forget I am hiking. Can be so busy performing spiritual gymnastics, your relationship with God gets lost in the weeds.

Prayer is the way to avoid slighting God in your life. Prayer is a God-given discipline that avoids forgetting God, His faithfulness, His ability, and His concern. Enumerate His faithfulness.