Samuel's Farewell Speech
1Samuel told the Israelites:
I have given you a king, just as you asked. 2You have seen how I have led you ever since I was a young man. I'm already old. My hair is gray, and my own sons are grown. Now you must see how well your king will lead you.
3 Let me ask this. Have I ever taken anyone's ox or donkey or forced you to give me anything? Have I ever hurt anyone or taken a bribe to give an unfair decision? Answer me so the Lord and his chosen king can hear you. And if I have done any of these things, I will give it all back.
4“No,” the Israelites answered. “You've never cheated us in any way!”
5Samuel said, “The Lord and his chosen king are witnesses to what you have said.”
“That's true,” they replied.
6 Then Samuel told them:
The Lord brought your ancestors out of Egypt and chose Moses and Aaron to be your leaders. 7Now the Lord will be your judge. So stand here and listen, while I remind you how often the Lord has saved you and your ancestors from your enemies.
8 After Jacob went to Egypt, your ancestors cried out to the Lord for help, and he sent Moses and Aaron. They brought your ancestors out of Egypt and led them here to settle this land. 9 But your ancestors forgot the Lord, so he let them be defeated by the Philistines, the king of Moab, and Sisera, the commander of Hazor's army.
10 Again your ancestors cried out to the Lord for help. They said, “We have sinned! We stopped worshiping you, our Lord, and started worshiping Baal and Astarte. But now, if you rescue us from our enemies, we will worship you.”
11 The Lord sent Gideon, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel to rescue you from your enemies, and you didn't have to worry about being attacked. 12 Then you saw that King Nahash of Ammon was going to attack you. And even though the Lord your God is your king, you told me, “This time it's different. We want a king to rule us!”
13You asked for a king, and you chose one. Now he stands here where all of you can see him. But it was really the Lord who made him your king. 14If you and your king want to be followers of the Lord, you must worship him and do what he says. Don't be stubborn! 15If you're stubborn and refuse to obey the Lord, he will turn against you and your king.
16Just stand here and watch the Lord show his mighty power. 17Isn't this the dry season? I'm going to ask the Lord to send a thunderstorm. When you see it, you will realize how wrong you were to ask for a king.
18Samuel prayed, and that same day the Lord sent a thunderstorm. Everyone was afraid of the Lord and of Samuel. 19They told Samuel, “Please, pray to the Lord your God for us! We don't want to die. We have sinned many times in the past, and we were very wrong to ask for a king.”
Even though what you did was wrong, you don't need to be afraid. But you must always follow the Lord and worship him with all your heart. 21Don't worship idols! They don't have any power, and they can't help you or save you when you're in trouble. 22But the Lord has chosen you to be his own people. He will always take care of you so that everyone will know how great he is.
23I would be disobeying the Lord if I stopped praying for you! I will always teach you how to live right. 24You also must obey the Lord—you must worship him with all your heart and remember the great things he has done for you. 25But if you and your king do evil, the Lord will wipe you out.
Many great leaders have found it difficult to pass on the baton of leadership. Samuel was different!
At a public meeting, Samuel did five things:
- He resigned his role as judge of Israel, a responsibility he formally turned over to the newly acclaimed King Saul. He continued to serve the Lord as a prophet and priest,
- He cleared his conscience by calling them as witnesses of the integrity of his own administration,
- He reminded the people of all that God had done for them and chided them about the shadowy process of asking for and receiving a king,
- He challenged them; their future success would depend on the willingness of the king and the people of the nation to honour and serve the Lord,
- He called on God to provide a miraculous sign as a witness of his faithfulness and their unfaithfulness.
What made this transition so outstanding?
- Samuel did not try to “hang on” to influence,
- He understood the “flexibility of God” in the matter of appointing a king,
- When he resigned his position as judge, he relinquished it completely,
- His motivation was only that the king and the people honour and serve their faithful God,
- God gave witness to Samuel’s words by a miraculous sign from heaven!
Lord God, there is so much for me to learn from your dealings with this dear, faithful servant of yours and also from your dealings with your fickle and often unfaithful people! I am like them all too often but would love to be more like that man Samuel! Teach me, today and in the days to come. Amen.