I Samuel 12 Bearing Witness.
This was a time of transition from Samuel, the last of the judges, to Israel’s first King. Samuel gives testimony as to his life of service for the people before the LORD. He challenges anyone to bear witness against him if he in anyway transgressed the law against them (vv. 1-4). They are also asked to acknowledge that the LORD and his anointed were present to witness their testimony (v. 5). Samuel then recalls how the LORD delivered their forefathers out of Egypt through Moses and Aaron (vv. 6-8), but when they forgot the LORD they were delivered up to the Philistines and then the King of Moab (v. 9). Yet again, when they confessed their sin and repented of it, the LORD delivered them up to and including under the leadership of Samuel (vv. 10-11).
Despite this long history of the LORD’s mercy, delivering them from their enemies as their King, they nevertheless asked for a human king (v. 12). It is in this context, and at this juncture, that Samuel makes abundantly clear, that their future will depend on the very same condition as it did before they had a human king, that if they transgressed the law-word of the covenant they would again suffer bondage (vv. 13-15). As yet another witness, Samuel called upon the LORD to witness as to the sin of their asking for a human king by sending thunder and lightning to destroy their crop of wheat (vv. 16-19a), to which they acknowledged that they had added to all their sins “the evil of asking for a king” (v. 19b). Despite this clear witness, they still wanted a king.
What follows is a testimony to the LORD’s mercy in providing for them a king, but Samuel also made clear that, king or no king, the LORD was their true king, and in him alone was their salvation. Their relationship to the LORD was one based on the covenant of grace which he had established with them to be their God, and they his people (vv. 20-22). Samuel also gave further testimony to his own ministry, that he saw it as a sin if he did not continue to pray for them, and to teach them “the good and the right way” (v. 23). Samuel sums up the above with what follows. “only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king (vv. 24-25).”