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Poole on 1 Samuel 12:23-25: Duties of Prophet and People Moving Forward

Verse 23:[1] Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD (Acts 12:5; Rom. 1:9; Col. 1:9; 2 Tim. 1:3) in ceasing (Heb. from ceasing[2]) to pray for you: but (Ps. 34:11; Prov. 4:11) I will teach you the (1 Kings 8:36; 2 Chron. 6:27; Jer. 6:16) good and the right way…

[Far be this sin from me, that I should cease to pray, גַּ֣ם אָנֹכִ֗י חָלִ֤ילָה לִּי֙ וגו״] Verbatim: Even I, far be it from me, etc. (Vatablus, Montanus). Understanding, although ye have spurned me (Vatablus). From me also let it be far, etc. (Pagnine). Even with respect to me, far be it that I should sin against Jehovah, ceasing to supplicate for you (Junius and Tremellius, similarly Munster, Tigurinus, Syriac, Arabic). Although Samuel could rightfully be angry with the people, because he was shamefully rejected by them; he does not interrupt the duty of prayer for them (Sanchez). It is said in verse 19 that the people feared both the Lord and Samuel. He frees them from both fears, inasmuch as he sets forth to them the divine mercy, verse 22, and his own patience in this verse; in which he shows himself altogether ready to pray for his despisers (Mendoza). Samuel had laid down the person of the civil magistrate, but not the office of Prophet. And so he says, far be it from me, that I should not pray for you, and teach you. Those two duties pertain to the ministry of the Church. To pray for others is the need of ardent charity: but especially for those by whom you have been injured. Samuel banishes any suspicion of hatred and wrath; lest he should appear with evil intention towards the people to have elicited by his prayers those lightnings and tempests. When ministers closely pursue and sharply rebuke the vices of their own, they are often able to appear to hate them. But at that time especially do they love them; which is taught by the examples of Moses, Stephen, and our Savior (Martyr).

In ceasing to pray for you: Think not that because you have so highly disobliged and rejected me, that I will revenge myself by neglecting to pray for you, or by praying against you, as I have now done for your conviction and humiliation, and so for your preservation; I am sensible it is my duty, as I am a man, a Israelite, a minister, a prophet, to pray for you.

[And I will teach you the good and right way (thus Pagnine, Dutch, English, Syriac, Arabic), or in a good way, etc. (Montanus), וְהוֹרֵיתִ֣י אֶתְכֶ֔ם בְּדֶ֥רֶךְ וגו״] And I will teach you, etc. Something is to be understood here, I will indeed pray for you, and teach you (Vatablus). By no means has God granted that I should sin, and omit to pray for you, and to teach you the right and good way (Arabic). I will show to you the way, etc. (Septuagint). I will teach you, that ye might go in the way established and right (Jonathan). I will direct you to the way, etc. (Munster), or in the way (Tigurinus). Indeed, I will establish you in the way (or concerning the way [Piscator]), the best and straightest (Junius and Tremellius, Piscator). That is, I will discharge my prophetic office as long as I live; for woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel, 1 Corinthians 9:16 (Junius). The best Pastor is obliged to fulfill both, that he should both pray to God, and exhort the people with his admonitions (Mendoza). By the right way here he understands the word of the Lord. For the inventions of men bent and crooked. For every man is deceitful. This is called the good way, because it leads to salvation (Martyr).

But I will teach you; Hebrew, and I will, etc., that is, I will not only pray for you, which is one branch of my duty; but will also teach and instruct you, which is the other branch of it. And though you have cast me off from being your judge and ruler, yet I will not cease to be your instructer and monitor, to keep you from sin and destruction.

Verse 24:[3] (Eccles. 12:13) Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for (Is. 5:12) consider how (Deut. 10:21; Ps. 126:2, 3) great things (or, what a great thing,[4] etc.) he hath done for you.

[Therefore, fear the Lord] After he promised that he is going to pray for the people, he admonishes the people to cooperate, lest useless prayer be poured out (Mendoza).

[And serve Him] Servitude belongs to those things that are πρὸς τὶ, relative; which are said to be of something else or related to something else.[5] Therefore, whatever a servant is, or is capable of, or is able, he ought to refer all that to his Lord (Martyr).

[In truth] That is, outside and inside; with the mouth and heart together (Mendoza).

[With all your heart] That is to say, Pour the whole affection of your heart upon the Lord; and reserve no part of the heart for idols, or temporal matters (Mendoza).

Fear the Lord, and serve him; otherwise neither my prayer nor counsels will stand you in any stead.

[For ye have seen the great things that He hath done among you (thus the Septuagint), כִּ֣י רְא֔וּ אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־הִגְדִּ֖ל עִמָּכֶֽם׃] For see ye that He hath wrought magnificently with you (Pagnine). Consider ye what magnificent things He hath done for you (Tigurinus, Munster, similarly Junius and Tremellius, Syriac): that is, See ye the marvelous things that He hath done before you, or, for your sake (Vatablus). They refer, either, to the recent storm (thus Tostatus, Drusius). Or, to divine blessings (Tostatus, Cajetan). And ye shall know that He is going to enlarge His blessings toward you (Arabic).

He hath done for you, or, among you, both at this time and formerly.

Verse 25:[6] But if ye shall still do wickedly, (Josh. 24:20) ye shall be consumed, (Deut. 28:36) both ye and your king.

[But if ye persevere in wickedness, וְאִם־הָרֵ֖עַ תָּרֵ֑עוּ] And if in evil-doing ye do evil (Montanus). If ye do what is evil (Munster); if ye shall continue to do evil (Tigurinus); if ye act iniquitously and perversely (Arabic). If ye additionally do evil (Syriac, Junius and Tremellius). If painstakingly and with determinate counsel ye sin (Martyr).

[Both ye and your king shall perish] [Thus nearly all translate תִּסָּפוּ.[7]] But the Septuagint has, ye shall be added. Understanding, to your fathers, that is, ye shall undergo the same punishments, or rather ye shall be involved in the same ruin (Nobilius). And the sins of the people often recoil upon the head of the king; just as also the sins of the King are often directed unto the ruin of the people (Mendoza). King and people are politically one person, as it were: wherefore, just as they are one in guilt, so also in punishment (Lapide). The King shall perish, both because of his own sin, and because he did not punish you when sinning (Martyr). Thus in 2 Kings 17:2 Hoshea sinned less than the other Kings; yet he was punished more severely than his predecessors, because of the sins of the people. Thus it is here predicted that King Saul, or whoever of his posterity, because of the sins of the people, is going to permitted to run headlong into sin, and is going to be chastened with extreme punishment equally with the people (Mendoza).

[1] Hebrew: גַּ֣ם אָנֹכִ֗י חָלִ֤ילָה לִּי֙ מֵחֲטֹ֣א לַֽיהוָ֔ה מֵחֲדֹ֖ל לְהִתְפַּלֵּ֣ל בַּעַדְכֶ֑ם וְהוֹרֵיתִ֣י אֶתְכֶ֔ם בְּדֶ֥רֶךְ הַטּוֹבָ֖ה וְהַיְשָׁרָֽה׃ [2] Hebrew: מֵחֲדֹל. [3] Hebrew: אַ֣ךְ׀ יְר֣אוּ אֶת־יְהוָ֗ה וַעֲבַדְתֶּ֥ם אֹת֛וֹ בֶּאֱמֶ֖ת בְּכָל־לְבַבְכֶ֑ם כִּ֣י רְא֔וּ אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־הִגְדִּ֖ל עִמָּכֶֽם׃ [4] Hebrew: אֲשֶׁר־הִגְדִּל. [5] Aristotle’s Categories 7. [6] Hebrew: וְאִם־הָרֵ֖עַ תָּרֵ֑עוּ גַּם־אַתֶּ֥ם גַּֽם־מַלְכְּכֶ֖ם תִּסָּפֽוּ׃ [7]סָפָה signifies to sweep away; סָפַח, to join.

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