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Poole on 1 Samuel 12:9-13: A History of the Lord's Mercies, Part 2

Verse 9:[1] And when they (Judg. 3:7) forgat the LORD their God, (Judg. 4:2) he sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of (Judg. 10:7; 13:1) the Philistines, and into the hand of the king (Judg. 3:12) of Moab, and they fought against them.

[Who were forgetful of the Lord, etc.] As God’s remembering signifies His blessings; so the forgetfulness of men denotes their most grievous sins, as it is evident from Isaiah 17:10; Jeremiah 3:21; Ezekiel 22:12. This is ταπείνωσις, or λιτότης, that is, lowness of style, or understatement, in which more is contained in the sense than in the words. Thus in Job 27:14, they shall not be satisfied with bread, that is, they shall perish with hunger; in Psalm 109:16, it is said of cruel Judas, …he remembered not to show mercy. Note here the prudence of Samuel in reproving: 1. Inasmuch as from the reproof of the ancients he softens the souls of those younger and present more freely to hear reproof. 2. Inasmuch as he shows that that ingratitude was quite longstanding, and to such an extent worse; and hence there is to be a more efficacious assault to extirpate it from their souls, before it grows stronger. 3. He makes use of the gentlest possible word to express the most frightful outrage, they have forgotten, etc. (Mendoza).

They forgat the Lord, that is, they revolted from him, as it is explained, verse 10, and carried themselves as ungratefully and unworthily towards God, as if they had wholly forgotten his great and innumerable favours, and their infinite obligations to him. Forgetting of God is oft put for all manner of wickedness, whereof indeed that is the true cause. See Isaiah 17:10; Jeremiah 3:21; Ezekiel 22:12. This he saith, partly to answer all objection, That the reason why they desired a king was, because in the time of the judges they were at great uncertainties, and ofttimes exercised with sharp afflictions: to which he answereth by concession that they were so; but adds, by way of retortion, that they themselves were the cause of it, by their forgetting of God; so that it was not the fault of that kind of government, but their transgressing the rules of it; and partly to mind them that this their ungrateful carriage towards God was no new or strange thing, but an hereditary and inveterate disease, that so they might more easily believe their own guilt herein, and be more deeply humbled, both for their own and for their parents’ sins. They fought against them, to wit, with success, and subdued them.

Verse 10:[2] And they cried unto the LORD, and said, (Judg. 10:10) We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD, (Judg. 2:13) and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now (Judg. 10:15, 16) deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve thee.

[Afterwards they cried out] Whence the utility of affliction is evident. Statius:[3] …only the happy are strangers to altars[4] (Drusius).

[And they said (thus the Septuagint and Jonathan in Drusius)] In the writing it is וַיֹּאמֶר, and he said; in the reading it is וַיֹּאמְרוּ, and they said. It is one of those twelve places, of which above out of the Masorah.[5] The Hebrews, when they speak of a people, sometimes make use of the singular number, sometimes of the plural (Drusius).

[We have forsaken the Lord (the worship of the Lord [Chaldean]) and have served Baalim, etc.] Either he divides a twofold sin, that is, desertion of divine worship, and idolatry; as if by degrees they were sliding from lesser sins unto greater sins: or he speaks of the sin of idolatry, through those two deformities common to all sins, turning from God, and turning toward the creature (Mendoza).

Verse 11:[6] And the LORD sent (Judg. 6:14, 32) Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and (Judg. 11:1) Jephthah, and (1 Sam. 7:13) Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelled safe.

[And the Lord sent, etc.] He, having been implored by you, came swiftly and was furnishing help. He lists Judges, not all, neither the more ancient, nor some succeeding immediately to others (Mendoza).

[Bedan, בְּדָן] This is either, 1. Jair the Manassite, concerning whom in Judges 10:3. For this agrees with the order of things, of which Samuel makes use: and, in 1 Chronicles 7:17, where a Bedan is reckoned among the grandchildren of the first Jair: now, it appears that he was thus called diacritically, so that he might be distinguished from that more ancient Jair, concerning which Numbers 32:41 (Junius, Piscator). Or, 2. Samson (thus Lyra, Estius, Menochius, Tirinus, Munster, Vatablus out of the Chaldean, Martyr, Lapide, Sanchez, Drusius out of Kimchi). Who was called בְּדָן/Bedan, in the place of בֶּן־דָן/Ben-dan, son of Dan; that is, the Danite (Drusius, thus Munster, Vatablus, Menochius, Tirinus). Just as we use בֶּן־יְהוּדָה, a son of Judah, for a Judahite, and בֶּן־נָפְתָּלִי, a son of Naphtali, for a Naphtalite: for he was of the Danite family. And, although he followed Jephthah, he is placed before him, because he was greater him (Drusius). Now, thus Samson was called by antonomasia,[7] as if he were the greatest of all the Danites. Just as Aristotle is called the Philosopher, and Paul the Apostle (Tirinus out of Sanchez). Or he is called Bedan, because it is written of him, the Spirit of the Lord began to be with him in the camp of Dan;[8] for בְּדָן/Bedan means in Dan (Glassius’ “Grammar” 815 out of Brentius[9]). Question: Why does not Samuel use the more common name, Samson, instead of the relatively unknown name, Bedan? Response: Perhaps because Bedan was a humbler name, since it was derived from a humbler tribe. Whence he was tacitly charging the Hebrews, asking for the splendid name of King, by whose patronage they might be protected: as if forgetful of divine omnipotence, which brought the mightiest Judge out of the humblest tribe to crush the Philistines. Perhaps for the same reason did he call Jephthah by his proper name; so that he might signify that, if Go was raising up so mean a man (the son of a harlot,[10] etc.) for external enemies, for no reason were they asking for a King to the same effect: as if they were not otherwise able to repulse their enemies (Mendoza).

Bedan is certainly one of the judges; and because there is no judge so called in the Book of Judges, it is reasonably concluded that this was one of the judges there mentioned having two names, as was very frequent. And this was either, first, Samson, as most interpreters believe, who is called Bedan, that is, in Dan, or of Dan, or the son of Dan, one of the tribe, to signify that they had no reason to distrust that God, who could, and did, raise so eminent a saviour out of so obscure a tribe. Or, secondly, Jair the Gileadite, of whom Judges 10:3; which may seem best to agree, first, With the time and order of the judges; for Jair was before Jephthah, but Samson was after him. Secondly, With other scriptures; for among the sons of a more ancient and a famous Jair, of whom see Numbers 32:41, we meet with one called Bedan, 1 Chronicles 7:17, which name seems here given to Jair the judge, to distinguish him from that first Jair. Thirdly, With the following words, which show that this Bedan was one of those judges who delivered them out of the hand of their enemies an every side, and made them to dwell safely; which seems not so properly to agree to Samson, who did only begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines, as was foretold of him, Judges 13:5, as to Jair, who kept them in peace and safety, in the midst of all their enemies, as may be gathered from Judges 10:3-6; and so did all the rest of the judges here mentioned.

[And Samuel] He ought to have said, and me. But thus it belongs to custom. The Sacred Books make use of a name in the place of a pronoun. Thus wives of Lamech, instead of my wives, Genesis 4:23 (Drusius, Mendoza). He names himself, not for the sake of vain boasting (for he indicates that all things proceed from God, not from himself [Sanchez]), but because the matter was thus requiring; for, those superior things were able to seem hardly to have been serviceable to those present, or perhaps to appear as greater deeds than they had been; but the matters conducted by Samuel were the greatest, and set before their eyes (Martyr).

And Samuel; he speaks of himself in the third person, which is frequent in the Hebrew tongue, as Genesis 4:23, 24; Psalm 132:1, 10, 11; Daniel 1:6; Isaiah 1:1. And he mentions himself not through vain ostentation, but for his own just and necessary vindication, and for the justification and enforcement of his following reproof, to show that he had not degenerated from his predecessors, nor had been so inconsiderable and unprofitable to them, as to give them any occasion to contrive or desire this change of government in his days.

[He plucked you] The Lord, not the Judges; so that the whole glory of the victories should be attributed to the one God. On every side is added: so that perfect liberation might be signified (Mendoza).

[And ye dwelt confidently, בֶּטַח[11]] In the place of לָבֶטַח[12] (Drusius), securely (Vatablus), with trust/confidence (Piscator).

Ye dwelled safe; so that it was no necessity, but mere wantonness, that made you desire a change.

Verse 12:[13] And when ye saw that (1 Sam. 11:1) Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, (1 Sam. 8:3, 19) ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when (Judg. 8:23; 1 Sam. 8:7; 10:19) the LORD your God was your king.

[But seeing that, etc., וַתִּרְאוּ וגו״] Finally, seeing that, etc. (Junius and Tremellius). Rather, but yet (Piscator), and nevertheless (Vatablus), because this is considered as the antithesis of the ingratitude of the Israelites towards the benefits commemorated (Piscator).

[Ye said to me] Me dehorting you from seeking a King other than the Lord (Vatablus).

[By no means] Understanding, will we acquiesce to your words (Vatablus). Βραχυλογία/brachylogia,[14] and a synecdoche of member. See above on 1 Samuel 8:19 (Piscator).

A king shall reign over us: see the notes on 1 Samuel 11:1. When the Lord your God was your king, that is, when God was your immediate King and Governor, who was both able and willing to deliver you, if you had cried to him, whereof you and your ancestors have had plentiful experience; so that you did not at all need any other king; and your desire of another was a manifest reproach against God, as if he were either grown impotent, or unfaithful, or unmerciful to you.

Verse 13:[15] Now therefore (1 Sam. 10:24) behold the king (1 Sam. 8:5; 9:20) whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, (Hos. 13:11) the LORD hath set a king over you.

[Now therefore your King, whom ye have chosen, is here] Question: How did they choose him? Response: Either because they willed and wished to have a King (Mendoza, Estius). Or, because they chose him in the renewal of the kingdom (Estius). Augustine acknowledges here something somewhat bitter and ironic, as if they had voluntarily brought evil upon their own head (Menochius).

Whom ye have chosen: though God chose him by lot, yet the people are said to choose him; either generally, because they chose that form of government, or particularly, because they approved of God’s choice, 1 Samuel 10:24, and confirmed it, 1 Samuel 11:15. The Lord hath set a king over you; he hath yielded to your inordinate desire.

[1] Hebrew: וַֽיִּשְׁכְּח֖וּ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֵיהֶ֑ם וַיִּמְכֹּ֣ר אֹתָ֡ם בְּיַ֣ד סִֽיסְרָא֩ שַׂר־צְבָ֙א חָצ֜וֹר וּבְיַד־פְּלִשְׁתִּ֗ים וּבְיַד֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ מוֹאָ֔ב וַיִּֽלָּחֲמ֖וּ בָּֽם׃ [2] Hebrew: וַיִּזְעֲק֤וּ אֶל־יְהוָה֙ וַיֹּאמֶ֣ר חָטָ֔אנוּ כִּ֤י עָזַ֙בְנוּ֙ אֶת־יְהוָ֔ה וַנַּעֲבֹ֥ד אֶת־הַבְּעָלִ֖ים וְאֶת־הָעַשְׁתָּר֑וֹת וְעַתָּ֗ה הַצִּילֵ֛נוּ מִיַּ֥ד אֹיְבֵ֖ינוּ וְנַעַבְדֶֽךָּ׃ [3] Publius Papinius Statius (c. 45-96) was a Roman poet. [4]Thebaid 12:495, 496. [5] See on verse 5. [6] Hebrew: וַיִּשְׁלַ֤ח יְהוָה֙ אֶת־יְרֻבַּ֣עַל וְאֶת־בְּדָ֔ן וְאֶת־יִפְתָּ֖ח וְאֶת־שְׁמוּאֵ֑ל וַיַּצֵּ֙ל אֶתְכֶ֜ם מִיַּ֤ד אֹֽיְבֵיכֶם֙ מִסָּבִ֔יב וַתֵּשְׁב֖וּ בֶּֽטַח׃ [7] That is, the substation of an epithet or title in the place of a proper name. [8] Judges 13:25: “And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan (בְּמַחֲנֵה־דָן) between Zorah and Eshtaol.” [9] Johannes Brenz (1499-1570) was a German Lutheran theologian and reformer, serving as Professor of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew at Heidelberg (1519-1522). He composed commentaries on large portions of the Old Testament, including the Book of Judges. [10] Judges 11:1. [11]בֶּטַח signifies security. [12] Thus in Proverbs 3:23, for example: “Then shalt thou walk in thy way safely (לָבֶטַח), and thy foot shall not stumble.” [13] Hebrew: וַתִּרְא֗וּ כִּֽי־נָחָ֞שׁ מֶ֣לֶךְ בְּנֵֽי־עַמּוֹן֮ בָּ֣א עֲלֵיכֶם֒ וַתֹּ֣אמְרוּ לִ֔י לֹ֕א כִּי־מֶ֖לֶךְ יִמְלֹ֣ךְ עָלֵ֑ינוּ וַיהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶ֖ם מַלְכְּכֶֽם׃ [14] That is, a concise form of speech. [15] Hebrew: וְעַתָּ֗ה הִנֵּ֥ה הַמֶּ֛לֶךְ אֲשֶׁ֥ר בְּחַרְתֶּ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֣ר שְׁאֶלְתֶּ֑ם וְהִנֵּ֙ה נָתַ֧ן יְהוָ֛ה עֲלֵיכֶ֖ם מֶֽלֶךְ׃

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