Poole on 1 Samuel 12:16-19: Conviction of Political Sin

Verse 16:[1] Now therefore (Ex. 14:13, 31) stand and see this great thing, which the LORD will do before your eyes.

Stand: By standing he intends not the posture of their bodies, but the consistency of their minds, by serious and fixed consideration.

Verse 17:[2] Is it not (Prov. 26:1) wheat harvest to day? (Josh. 10:12; 1 Sam. 7:9, 10; Jam. 5:16-18) I will call unto the LORD, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that (1 Sam. 8:7) your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king.

[Is it not the harvest of wheat? (thus Jonathan, Munster, Tigurinus, similarly the Syriac, Piscator, Tigurinus), הֲל֤וֹא קְצִיר־חִטִּים֙] Is it not the harvest of grain? (Septuagint, Montanus). Is this not the day or time of the harvest? (Junius and Tremellius, Arabic, Pagnine). Question: Whether this was a miracle? Response: In this way. For, at that time rains are not wont to be in Palestine (Munster, Vatablus, Drusius); as Jerome, an eyewitness, writes on Amos 4:7 (Lapide). That thundering was beyond nature at the time of the harvest, and so it was marvelous; because thunderings happened only in the spring and autumn. The reason for which that they are agitated by the collision of heat and cold; which collision is not able to happen in the winter, with cold predominating, nor in summer, with heat predominating: especially in hot lands, of which sort is Syria: for among us thunderings are not rare in summer (Castalio). He says the harvest of wheat, not of barley: because in the latter, since it is prior, it rains sometimes (Mendoza out of Tostatus). Therefore, from that untimely and inexpedient rain, he indicated that the petition of the people, namely, that he would give them a king, was inexpedient (Mariana). But, however the matter stands, it was fair weather when these things were said (Vatablus). The harvest of wheat is today, a clear day, for which sort reapers hope (Grotius). A harvest day, that is, a clear sky, which sort is seasonable at the time of harvest (Junius, Malvenda). As if he should say, such were not accustomed to happen at that time: and if they do sometimes happen, yet not so suddenly, or unexpectedly; just as it happened upon the prayers of Samuel, without preceding disposition of the air (Lyra, similarly Mendoza). Moreover, that this storm was unexpectedly heavier, is indicated by the fact that it threatened present death to the people, verse 19, that we die not; and that it compelled them to confess unwillingly that they had sinned most grievously (Tirinus on Vatablus on verse 18).

At wheat harvest it was a rare thing in those parts to have thunder or rain, as the Scripture oft implies; and St. Jerome affirms, who was an eyewitness of it; the weather being more constant and certain in its seasons there, and in divers other parts, than it is with us who live in islands, as all travellers inform us.

[And He shall give voices[3]] Thunderings (Drusius, Montanus); noises (Junius and Tremellius). A καταχρηστικὴ/catachrestic[4] Synecdoche of species (Piscator).

[And ye shall know and see, וּדְע֣וּ וּרְא֗וּ] An elegant paronomasia[5] (Piscator). Both know and see (Pagnine), that is, then ye shall know and understand (Vatablus). For, I pray that this sign be given by God, so that it might be a divine testimony of the truth that I now express; namely, that ye have done wickedly in asking for a King (Menochius). Samuel, either taught by divine instinct, or led by a good and simple heart, asked for this miracle: 1. For the advantage of the people; so that they might be induced to acknowledge their sin, if not with human words, then by divine wonders. 2. For his authority. God excited those thunderings (says Rabbi Salomon in Lyra), so that he might check the obstinacy of the people: for, if such was the strength of Samuel, that he was able to shake the heavens, and to call down thunderings; how was he not able to rout an enemy, and to lead the Republic? (Mendoza).

He shall send thunder and rain; that by this unseasonable and pernicious storm you may understand that God is displeased with you; and also how foolishly and wickedly you have done in rejecting the government of that God, at whose command are all things, both in heaven and in earth.

[Asking a king] Understanding, some other than Him, namely, Jehovah (Vat