1 Kings xii.
Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. You. He speaks with the authority of a prophet, (Calmet) and takes this opportunity to draw from the whole people a confession of his integrity, that the kings might follow the pattern which he had set them. (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Goeth, as your leader, according to your request. I am like a private man, (Calmet) willing to submit to his and the people’s judgment, (Haydock) though it could not be required. (Menochius) — Grey-headed. This he might be at the age of sixty, which most chronologers allow him, (Haydock) as he had been at the head of affairs from his early years, in most difficult times. (Tirinus) — With you. As soon as I heard of your complaints, I deprived them of their power, so that you cannot blame me for their misconduct. If they were guilty, they may stand their trial before the king. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Anointed, “Christ,” as the anointing of kings prefigured that of the Messias, which, in Hebrew, has the same import as the word christos has in Greek. (Calmet) — Wronged. Literally, “by calumny,” or by any other mode of oppression. (Haydock) — Despise. Hebrew, “hide my eyes,” through confusion. (Calmet) — Protestants, “to blind my eyes therewith.” (Haydock) — Septuagint have read nálim, “shoes,” instead of anlim. (Calmet) — “Have I taken from the hand of any one a present, to render me favourable, so much as a shoe? (upodéma, or latchet) answer against me,” &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 6. Made, and appointed them to rule the people, Jeremias xxxvii. 15. (Le Clerc) — Egypt. Septuagint add, “is witness;” and some Latin copies have, “is present.” (Calmet)
Ver. 7. Stand up, like people cited to the bar. Having undergone his own trial with applause, Samuel shews that the people will not come off so well at the tribunal of God, whom they had treated with greater disrespect, injustice, and ingratitude than they had himself, as he convinced them by an astonishing and terrible storm. (Haydock) — Kindness. Septuagint, “justice,” as the same Hebrew word implies both. God had treated his people with mercy and with justice (Calmet) alternately. (Haydock)
Ver. 9. Hasor. See Judges iv. 1. — Moab. Jephte delivered the people from the hands of the Ammonites, who claimed all that country, Judges xi. 15. Eglon had been slain by Aod, before the Chanaanites enslaved Israel. (Calmet)
Ver. 11. Jerobaal and Badan. That is, Gedeon and Samson, called here Badan or Bedan, because he was of Dan. (Challoner) (Chaldean, &c.) (Worthington) — Others think that Jair, (Judges x. 3.; Junius, Usher,) or, according to the Septuagint, “Barac,” are designated. Jair was a descendant of one Bedan, 1 Paralipomenon ii. 21. (Calmet) — But we do not read that Jair performed any great exploit. (Haydock) — Samuel. He speaks of himself as of any other man: as the interests of God were not to be betrayed by an unseasonable modesty. (Calmet) — Josephus only specifies Jephte and Gedeon. (Haydock) — The Israelites thought that they could dispose things better than God had done under the judges; and hence their sin is so often repeated. (St. Gregory) (Worthington)
Ver. 13. Desired. St. Augustine (in Psalm li.) considers this as a kind of sarcasm. (Calmet) — You will see what advantages you will derive from your choice. (Menochius)
Ver. 14. Of the Lord, causing him to look upon you and treat you with indignation. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “and do not contend with the mouth,” or against the orders of the Lord, which cannot fail to excite his displeasure. (Menochius) — If you prove faithful under this new form of government, though it be less agreeable to God, he will still protect you. (Haydock)
Ver. 15. Fathers. Septuagint, “king,” ver. 25. Superiors (Worthington) are often styled fathers. Syriac, &c., “as upon your fathers,” (Calmet) which is adopted by the Protestants, “as it was against,” &c. (Haydock)
Ver. 17. Wheat-harvest. At which time of the year it never thunders or rains in those countries. (Challoner) — The wheat-harvest is towards the end of June. The usual seasons for rain are only spring and autumn. (St. Jerome in Amos iv. 7, &c.) — Thunder. Literally, “voices,” Psalm xvii. 14. (Calmet) — See. Being fully convinced by the miracle, which declares the will of God in the clearest manner. Though God was pleased thus to manifest his displeasure, at the people’s assuming to themselves the right of changing the established form of government, by insisting so much upon having a king at this time, we cannot hence infer, as Paine and some late seditious writers have done, that the regal power is in itself an evil. It might be contrary to a theocracy, and still might suit the manners of some nations better than any other form. To determine precisely what sort of government is the best, would be an arduous task. We admire our own constitution; yet our ally, the prince of the Brazils, has lately forbidden any panegyric of it to be printed in his dominions. All innovations are, generally, attended with the most serious inconveniences. (Haydock)
Ver. 19. And Samuel, at whose prayer the Lord had sent such a storm, lest he should punish them as they deserved. But the prophet alleviates their fears, and teaches them to refrain from idolatry, and he will still continue to perform his duty in praying for them, and giving them good advice. (Salien) — The fear of God is increased by that which the people shew for his servants.
Ver. 20. Following, as that would imply despair. To come boldly before him would argue presumption. Therefore, St. Mary Magdalene keeps at the feet of Jesus Christ. (Worthington)
Ver. 21. Vain and wicked idols. Hebrew thohu, full of “confusion” and disorder.
Ver. 22. Sake. This motive often proved the salvation of Israel, Exodus xxxii. 12. The Scriptures wholly tend to impress upon our minds, a sense of our own weakness, and of God’s infinite glory and perfection. (Calmet) — We may all say, “Our hope to rise is all from Thee—our ruin’s all our own.” (Austin.[St. Augustine?])
Ver. 23. The Lord. For a pastor to neglect instruction, is not only detrimental to the people, but injurious to God. (Haydock) — Way. None contributed more than Samuel to keep the people within due bounds, during the reign of Saul. (Calmet)
Ver. 25. Together. Septuagint, “shall be rejected.” Saul soon experienced the effect of this prophetic menace; and the Jews were, at last, also cast away. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Samuel’s integrity is acknowledged. God sheweth, by a sign from heaven, that they had done ill in asking for a king.
1 *And Samuel said to all Israel: Behold I have hearkened to your voice in all that you said to me, and have made a king over you.
2 And now the king goeth before you: but I am old and grey-headed: and my sons are with you: having then conversed with you from my youth until this day, behold here I am.
3 *Speak of me before the Lord, and before his anointed, whether I have taken any man’s ox, or ass: if I have wronged any man, if I have oppressed any man, if I have taken a bribe at any man’s hand: and I will despise it this day, and will restore it to you.
4 And they said: Thou hast not wronged us, nor oppressed us, nor taken ought at any man’s hand.
5 And he said to them: The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found any thing in my hand. And they said: He is witness.
6 And Samuel said to the people: It is the Lord, who made Moses and Aaron, and brought our fathers out of the land of Egypt.
7 Now, therefore, stand up, that I may plead in judgment against you before the Lord, concerning all the kindness of the Lord, which he hath shewn to you, and to your fathers:
8 *How Jacob went into Egypt, and your fathers cried to the Lord: and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, and brought your fathers out of Egypt: and made them dwell in this place.
9 And they forgot the Lord their God, *and he delivered them into the hands of Sisara, captain of the army of Hasor, and into the hands of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them.
10 But afterwards they cried to the Lord, and said: We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord, and have served Baalim and Astaroth: but now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve thee.
11 *And the Lord sent Jerobaal, and Badan, and Jephte, and Samuel, and delivered you from the hand of your enemies round about, and you dwelt securely.
12 But seeing that Naas, king of the children of Ammon, was come against you, you said to me: *Nay, but a king shall reign over us: whereas the Lord your God was your king.
13 Now, therefore, your king is here, whom you have chosen and desired: Behold the Lord hath given you a king.
14 If you will fear the Lord, and serve him, and hearken to his voice, and not provoke the mouth of the Lord: then shall both you, and the king who reigneth over you, be followers of the Lord your God.
15 But if you will not hearken to the voice of the Lord, but will rebel against his words, the hand of the Lord shall be upon you, and upon your fathers.
16 Now then stand, and see this great thing which the Lord will do in your sight.
17 Is it not wheat-harvest to-day? I will call upon the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain: and you shall know, and see that you yourselves have done a great evil in the sight of the Lord, in desiring a king over you.
18 And Samuel cried unto the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day.
19 And all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. And all the people said to Samuel: Pray for thy servants to the Lord thy God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for a king.
20 And Samuel said to the people: Fear not, you have done all this evil: but yet depart not from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.
21 And turn not aside after vain things, which shall never profit you, nor deliver you, because they are vain.
22 And the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because the Lord hath sworn to make you his people.
23 And far from me be this sin against the Lord, that I should cease to pray for you: and I will teach you the good and right way.
24 Therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in truth, and with your whole heart, for you have seen the great works which he hath done among you.
25 But if you will still do wickedly: both you and your king shall perish together.
1: Year of the World 2909.
3: Ecclesiasticus xlvi. 22.
8: Genesis xlvi. 5.
9: Judges iv. 2.
11: Judges vi. 14.
12: 1 Kings viii. 19. and x. 19.