Read 1 Samuel 12
Samuel’s Farewell Speech
1 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, Barak, Jephthah and Samuel, 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.
16 “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes! 17 Is it not wheat harvest now? I will call on the Lord to send thunder and rain. And you will realize what an evil thing you did in the eyes of the Lord when you asked for a king.”
18 Then Samuel called on the Lord, and that same day the Lord sent thunder and rain. So all the people stood in awe of the Lord and of Samuel.
19 The people all said to Samuel, “Pray to the Lord your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.”
20 “Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. 22 For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own. 23 As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. 24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.”
In 1 Samuel 12 the prophet Samuel passed authority to Saul, rebuked the Israelites for their sin, and presented them with options on how to move forward. In order to understand the significance of Samuel’s farewell address it is essential to understand the sin Israel committed, the outcome of that sin, and the choice that the people of Israel had to make. This will remind us of who God is, how we should respond to Him, and how we are to live our lives.
1 Samuel 8 recalls how the Israelites rejected Samuel as their judge and demanded a king. Calling for a King was sinful for the Israelites because it was rooted in a) the rejection of God b) a desire to be like others rather than set apart and c) a lack of faith in God’s character. God pointed out to Samuel in that “they have not rejected you but have rejected me from being king over them.” By rejecting God’s kingship, they asserted that the rule of man is more fitting, more secure, and more beneficial than the rule of God. In addition, their motivation for demanding a king was to be like all other nations. Although God set them apart as holy (Deut. 7:6), they wanted to be like everyone else. Rather than trusting in God’s promise and character to provide, protect, and lead them, they sought the leadership of a man.
This sin had a few consequences that Samuel warned of in earlier chapters. During his farewell address, Samuel outlined how God has historically humbled and redeemed the Israelites for turning from Him, and Samuel argued that this is just another instance of how God will offer the Israelites grace even when they are caught in sin. The Israelites responded to this address and God’s sign with repentance.
Sometimes we can be in despair from our sin. We dwell in it, and we allow our guilt to prevent us from accepting the forgiveness and grace God so readily provides. The Israelites were in this very position, but Samuel encouraged them, “Do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.” We cannot live in the past, but the past should exist as a constant reminder to us of God’s sovereignty, power, and grace in our lives (as Samuel explained in v. 6-9). Samuel talks to Israel amidst their sin. They sinned against God but even in their mess, Samuel called them to serve God and obey Him where they were at now. God always offers a choice—no matter how far from him we run. We can either begin to obey and fear Him or continue to disobey and disregard Him.
This passage speaks to God’s unconditional love for us—even in our sin, He provides a path for us to be near Him and experience His blessings. Even when we forget what God has done in our life, He provides reminders to us of His faithfulness in our life. In response to His grace and faithfulness to us, we should take steps each day to “serve the Lord with all our heart.”
- Who/what is king in your life and how does that affect your decisions and life?
- What are examples of how God has humbled you and given you grace in the past?
- What does it look like to be obedient to God in this season of your life?
“What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.” – Timothy Keller
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