“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice ? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”
1 Samuel 12 (NRSV)
Samuel’s Farewell Address
Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to you in all that you have said to me, and have set a king over you. 2See, it is the king who leads you now; I am old and gray, but my sons are with you. I have led you from my youth until this day.
Samuel is “passing the torch” to Saul. Samuel indicates that his sons are no longer leaders, and he begins to remind them of the good legacy he is passing on to Saul. He is not leaving Saul a mess to clean up. He has been honest and faithful to all.
3Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you.”
4They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from the hand of anyone.”
Your integrity is measured not by what you say about yourself, but by what God and people say about you.
–Henry T. Blackaby
Integrity has no need of rules.
Integrity can be neither lost nor concealed nor faked nor quenched nor artificially come by nor outlived, nor, I believe, in the long run, denied.
My father was very strong. I don’t agree with a lot of the ways he brought me up. I don’t agree with a lot of his values, but he did have a lot of integrity, and if he told us not to do something, he didn’t do it either.
5He said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.”
And they said, “He is witness.”
6Samuel said to the people, “The Lord is witness, who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your ancestors up out of the land of Egypt. 7Now therefore take your stand, so that I may enter into judgment with you before the Lord, and I will declare to you all the saving deeds of the Lord that he performed for you and for your ancestors.
Samuel reviews for them not so much a history of Israel but a history of God’s work on their behalf.
8″When Jacob went into Egypt and the Egyptians oppressed them, then your ancestors cried to the Lord and the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought forth your ancestors out of Egypt, and settled them in this place.
9″But they forgot the Lord their God; and he sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of King Jabin of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab; and they fought against them. 10Then they cried to the Lord, and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord, and have served the Baals and the Astartes; but now rescue us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve you.’ 11And the Lord sent Jerubbaal (that is, Gideon) and Barak, and Jephthah, and Samson, and rescued you out of the hand of your enemies on every side; and you lived in safety.
12″But when you saw that King Nahash of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ though the Lord your God was your king. 13See, here is the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; see, the Lord has set a king over you. 14If you will fear the Lord and serve him and heed his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well; 15but if you will not heed the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king.
16″Now therefore take your stand and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. 17Is it not the wheat harvest today? I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain; and you shall know and see that the wickedness that you have done in the sight of the Lord is great in demanding a king for yourselves.”
18So Samuel called upon the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.
The wheat harvest came during the dry season of the Mediterranean climate. Rain at this time was unusual, and could damage their crops. God is showing both his power and his judgment.
19All the people said to Samuel, “Pray to the Lord your God for your servants, so that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of demanding a king for ourselves.”
20And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; 21and do not turn aside after useless things that cannot profit or save, for they are useless.
1 John 2:15-17 (NLT)
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
“Here I Am to Worship” — written by Tim Hughes, sung HERE by Michael W. Smith.
22For the Lord will not cast away his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.
Samuel wanted Israel to know that God loves them. Despite the sin of their past they could get on with serving the Lord and still see His blessing because God loves them. His favor towards Israel was not prompted by good they did, were doing, or promised to do. It was for His great name’s sake, because it pleased the Lord to do it. The reasons were in Him, not in Israel.
23Moreover as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.
“Perhaps you will never preach, but you may pray. If you cannot climb the pulpit you may bow before the mercy-seat, and be quite as great a blessing.”
–Charles Haddon Spurgeon
from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby
FAR BE IT FROM ME!
It can be tempting at times to give up on God’s people! They are so imperfect and can be so sinful, yet they are His people. Samuel had thoroughly warned the Israelites of the dangers in appointing a king over Israel. Yet they wanted to be like the nations around them, insisting that they were willing to pay any price. Almost as soon as the people were granted their desire, they recognized their sin. But it was too late. Now they wanted him to continue to minister to them. It would seem appropriate for Samuel to abandon them and allow them to suffer the consequences of their actions.
Samuel knew, as Jesus knew, that God sends His servants to the sick, not the healthy (Matthew 9:12). Samuel did not take the people’s response as a rejection of him but as an indication of their walk with God. Samuel was serving God, not the Israelites. When God commanded him to minister to them, he could do nothing else, despite their resistance to his message.
At times people will not respond as they should to the message God speaks through you. Don’t become discouraged; it is a reflection of their relationship with God. You are God’s servant; if Jesus spent His time with the spiritually needy, you can expect Him to ask you to do the same. Don’t lose patience with God’s people. Keep in mind that God loves them as much as He loves you.
24Only fear the Lord, and serve him faithfully with all your heart; for consider what great things he has done for you. 25But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”
“Never was a people more fully warned, and never did a people profit less by the warning.”
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.