A FINAL EXHORTATION
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.
Father, when life changes unexpectedly, teach me to be faithful to you.
Have you ever had to make way for someone younger, more qualified perhaps, more able to do the job you’ve been doing for decades? How did you feel? It can’t have been easy for Samuel to stand back and let Saul take center stage, but he didn’t intend to leave any nasty stones unturned. It was important to him that the people should publicly acknowledge his honesty and integrity. His personal credibility would be even more important when it came to appointing the next king, David, as this first anointing was to prove unsuccessful.1 How do you rate your own honesty and integrity in the job God has given you to do now? Would it stand up to public scrutiny?
Note that Samuel would continue as their spiritual director, their priest and prophet; it was his political role which Saul was to take. We see that spiritual guidance continuing now. He begins by reminding the people of their history and what God had done for them. There had been numerous ups and downs as they had turned to or away from God, which we can read about in the book of Judges. However, in his great love and infinite patience, the Lord had rescued them and had brought them to this point. Now, Samuel wanted to give a final exhortation to them all before Saul took over. ‘If you fear the Lord … But if you do not …’ (vs 14,15).
A few years ago, the vicar of my church developed terminal cancer. In his last public appearance he gave a stirring message to the congregation. If that were you, what would you say? What’s the most important thing that people need to hear? How would you phrase it? What references to local history and life experience would you use?
Verses 14 and 15 are worth writing in large letters and sticking to your kitchen wall as a constant reminder to be faithful to the Lord who has rescued you.
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!
1 See Mary Evans, 1 and 2 Samuel, NIBC, Paternoster Press, 2000, p56
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