Samuel’s farewell address (12:1-25)
The people’s demand for a king was an insult to Samuel as well as to God. Samuel therefore called upon them to declare before God and before the king that he had been blameless in all his behaviour. He had given them no cause to be dissatisfied with his leadership (12:1-5).
In the lengthy address that followed, Samuel reminded his hearers of all that God had done in giving Israel the land of Canaan for a homeland (6-8). He reminded them also that Israel’s troubles in Canaan had come from the sins of the people, not from the type of leadership. They now had the leadership they wanted, a king, but even he would not be able to save them from judgment if they sinned against God. As under the rule of the judges, so under the rule of a king, God would give his people into the hand of their enemies when they rebelled against him, and save them from their enemies when they obeyed him (9-15).
Samuel gave the people clear proof that he spoke for God in condemning them for asking for a king. In response to his word, God sent a sudden storm, even though rain did not normally fall at that time of the year (16-18). The people were terrified and realized their sin in asking for a king. But now that they had their king, there could be no turning back. Samuel could not change matters, but he promised to keep praying for them and to keep teaching them God’s way. Though no longer their political leader, he was still their priest and prophet (19-25).