Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, I praise you. I look forward to learning from your Word.
Read 1 Samuel 12:1–15
Samuel’s Farewell Speech
12 Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you. 2 Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. 3 Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right.”
4 “You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.”
5 Samuel said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and also his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.”
“He is witness,” they said.
6 Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the Lord who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your ancestors up out of Egypt. 7 Now then, stand here, because I am going to confront you with evidence before the Lord as to all the righteous acts performed by the Lord for you and your ancestors.
8 “After Jacob entered Egypt, they cried to the Lord for help, and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your ancestors out of Egypt and settled them in this place.
9 “But they forgot the Lord their God; so he sold them into the hand of Sisera, the commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hands of the Philistines and the king of Moab, who fought against them. 10 They cried out to the Lord and said, ‘We have sinned; we have forsaken the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtoreths. But now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve you.’ 11 Then the Lord sent Jerub-Baal,[a] Barak,[b] Jephthah and Samuel,[c] and he delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around you, so that you lived in safety.
12 “But when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites was moving against you, you said to me, ‘No, we want a king to rule over us’—even though the Lord your God was your king. 13 Now here is the king you have chosen, the one you asked for; see, the Lord has set a king over you. 14 If you fear the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God—good! 15 But if you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat would our last words be? What would we pass on to our nearest and dearest to help them navigate their own lives? The Bible is full of such statements. Spend a few minutes thinking about what you might say.
These words are not given from a death bed but delivered after the coronation of Saul in Gilgal (11:15); I can imagine Samuel staring into the whites of the people’s eyes as he employs legal, even adversarial, language.
He asks his hearers to testify against him if he has done wrong (v 3). When he is assured of his blamelessness, he says that the Lord is a witness to this (v 5), going on to say that he will present evidence of God’s righteous acts on his people’s behalf (v 7). He concludes by saying that their obedience to God will result in blessing, but disobedience will lead to judgment (v 15).
Law court language is a feature of Old Testament prophets. Its use, here and in other places, is not primarily about guilt and judgment, but as a means of telling the story of the two key parties (God and his people) in a way that brings them to an agreement. It’s a reminder that God’s relationship with us is loving and gracious, but never casual.
What comes to mind when I think of God’s dealings with me across my life? If I had to produce evidence by way of dates, times and events, which would I choose? Bring these to mind before God now and give thanks.
Gracious God, you are the beginning and the end. I don’t request more time but a relationship with you at all times, so I might be ready for your time!
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