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Samuel’s Charge to Israel

12 Then Samuel said to all Israel, “Look, I have listened to your voice regarding all that you have said to me, so I have set a king over you. And so then here is the king walking about before you. Now I am old and gray, but my sons (look at them!) are with you; and I have walked about before you from my youth until this day. Here I am! Testify against me before Yahweh and before his anointed one! Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I exploited? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe, that I may shut my eyes regarding[a] him?–then I will restore it to you.” Then they said, “You have not exploited us or oppressed us, and you have not taken anything from the hand of anyone.” So he said to them, “Yahweh is witness against you, and his anointed one is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” Then they said, “He is witness.” Then Samuel said to the people, “Yahweh is witness, who appointed Moses and Aaron, and who brought your ancestors[b] up from the land of Egypt. So then take your stand, so that I may judge you before Yahweh with regard to all the deeds of justice[c] of Yahweh that he performed with both you and your ancestors.[d]

“When Jacob came to Egypt, your ancestors[e] cried out to Yahweh, so he sent Moses and Aaron, and they brought your ancestors[f] out from Egypt and settled them in this place. But they forgot Yahweh their God, so he sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the hosts of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them. 10 So they cried out to Yahweh and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken Yahweh and have served the Baals[g] and the Ashtoreths.[h] But now deliver us from the hand of our enemies and we will serve you!’ 11 So Yahweh sent Jerub-Baal and Bedan[i] and Jephthah and Samuel. Then he delivered you from the hand of your enemies all around, and you lived in security.

12 “And when you saw that Nahash, the king of the Ammonites,[j] was coming against you, you said to me, ‘No! A king shall reign over us,’ although Yahweh your God is your king. 13 So then look! Here is the king you have chosen, for whom you have asked! Look, Yahweh has placed a king over you! 14 If you will fear Yahweh, and serve him, and listen to his voice, and not be rebellious against what Yahweh says,[k] and both you and the king who rules over you will follow after Yahweh your God, all will be well. 15 But, if you do not listen to the voice of Yahweh, and you rebel against what Yahweh says,[l] then the hand of Yahweh will be against you[m] as it was against your ancestors.[n] 16 So then take your stand again and see this great thing that Yahweh is going to do before your eyes. 17 Is the wheat harvest not today? I will call out to Yahweh so that he still sends thunder and rain, so that you will know and will see that your wickedness is great that you have done in the eyes of Yahweh by asking for a king for yourselves.”

18 So Samuel called out to Yahweh, and Yahweh brought thunder and rain that same day, so all the people feared Yahweh and Samuel greatly. 19 Then all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to Yahweh your God so that we will not die, because we have added to all our sins by requesting a king for ourselves.” 20 And Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear! You have done all this evil; only do not turn aside from following[o] Yahweh. But you must serve Yahweh with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside after the triviality,[p] which have no value and cannot deliver, for they are triviality. 22 For Yahweh will not forsake his people for the sake of his great name, because Yahweh has decided to make you his own people. 23 Also, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin[q] against Yahweh by ceasing to pray for you! I will instruct you in the good and righteous way. 24 Only fear Yahweh and serve him faithfully with all of your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.[r] 25 But if you continue to do wickedness, both you and your king will be swept away.”


  1. 1 Samuel 12:3 Literally “with”
  2. 1 Samuel 12:6 Or “fathers”
  3. 1 Samuel 12:7 Or “righteous deeds
  4. 1 Samuel 12:7 Or “fathers”
  5. 1 Samuel 12:8 Or “fathers”
  6. 1 Samuel 12:8 Or “fathers”
  7. 1 Samuel 12:10 Hebrew plural “Be’alim” (Ba’al was a major Canaanite deity)
  8. 1 Samuel 12:10 Hebrew plural “Ashtoroth” (Ashtoreth was the female consort of Ba’al)
  9. 1 Samuel 12:11 Many English translations follow the LXX here and read “Barak”
  10. 1 Samuel 12:12 Literally “sons/children of Ammon”
  11. 1 Samuel 12:14 Literally “the mouth of Yahweh”
  12. 1 Samuel 12:15 Literally “the mouth of Yahweh”
  13. 1 Samuel 12:15 Here LXX reads “against you and against your king”
  14. 1 Samuel 12:15 Or “fathers”
  15. 1 Samuel 12:20 Literally “after”
  16. 1 Samuel 12:21 That is, the triviality of lifeless idols. The same Hebrew word, tohu, is used in Genesis 1:2 to describe the pre-created state of the earth.
  17. 1 Samuel 12:23 Literally “from sinning”
  18. 1 Samuel 12:24 Literally “what he made great with you”