v1: Having defeated the Ammonites, the people had gathered at Gilgal (11.14-15), to publicly declare Saul as King. Samuel took the opportunity to speak with them.
v2: Samuel made reference to his sons. The elders of the people knew that they were dishonest (8.5), although Samuel did not claim they were faithful.
v3-5: The people acknowledged that Samuel had lived a blameless life, and enjoyed a clear conscience. This strengthened his authority as judge and prophet and priest.
v6-11: Lessons from O.T. history. Through the different experiences of the people of Israel, the Lord God raised up and sent leaders, Moses and Aaron, Gideon, Barak and Jephthah, and finally Samuel. Where such leaders were clearly God's choice, there is a responsibility upon the people to follow them.
After the people had worshipped false gods, and the Lord had delivered them into the hands of Gentile rulers, the people cried out to God for deliverance. His response was to send leaders, judges, who delivered them.
v12: When the Ammonites gathered against Israel, it was therefore not logical that the people asked for a king. The Lord had not commanded this. The people thought that a king would solve all their problems.
v13: In response to the people's request, the Lord God did choose a king for them, Saul. Samuel describes Saul as the king chosen by the people, “the one you asked for.” They had set their sights low and had received a king of weakness.
v14-15: Whatever the people's view regarding a king, there remained an on going decision to follow the true God. God would continue to honour their obedience.
v16-19: God sent a sign, of thunder during the wheat harvest, to demonstrate their folly in asking for a king. Now they would learn what it was to be ruled by a king.
v20-22: The decision had been made, the people had chosen a king, and that would not be reversed. What was important was that they remained true to God, and not to follow after "useless idols". The people were also assured that God would not forsake His own.
v23: Samuel would continue faithful to the people, in praying for them, and in teaching them.
v24: Samuel's closing challenge;
- Fear the Lord;
- Serve the Lord faithfully and whole-heartedly;
- Consider what the Lord has done.
v25: Samuel recognised in the people a tendency to do wrong. The people themselves must be conscious of this and learn to obey the Lord God.