1 Then Samuel addressed all Israel: “I have done as you asked and given you a king.
2 Your king is now your leader. I stand here before you—an old, gray-haired man—and my sons serve you. I have served as your leader from the time I was a boy to this very day.
1 Samuel 12:1-2 (NLT)
In this article, we are at the time where Saul had proven his worth and earned the loyalty from the Israelites. He had become a real king with real powers. It was time for Samuel to say goodbye. The entire chapter of 1 Samuel 12 records his goodbye speech.
According to Verse 2 above, Samuel had been serving as the leader of Israel since he was a boy. That itself is an achievement. You must remember that at that time they did not have a national government. Samuel did not even have a simple police force to enforce his rule. His authority was based purely on his charisma that was given by God. The Israelites could have ignored him if they wanted to but they didn’t. They chose to obey him willingly. What was the secret of Samuel’s success? Let us find out.
3 Now testify against me in the presence of the Lord and before his anointed one. Whose ox or donkey have I stolen? Have I ever cheated any of you? Have I ever oppressed you? Have I ever taken a bribe and perverted justice? Tell me and I will make right whatever I have done wrong.”
1 Samuel 12:3 (NLT)
Why would Samuel ask such questions? He would not have asked those questions if the answers were negative. This tells us that Samuel lived a life of integrity. Let us confirm this.
4 “No,” they replied, “you have never cheated or oppressed us, and you have never taken even a single bribe.”
5 “The Lord and his anointed one are my witnesses today,” Samuel declared, “that my hands are clean.”
“Yes, he is a witness,” they replied.
1 Samuel 12:4-5 (NLT)
This is one of the common characteristics of successful leaders. You cannot lead successfully if you are not honest, oppress the people you lead, cheat them and take advantage of them. Your hand must be clean. In God’s mind, leaders are not meant to oppress their people. God’s idea of leadership is to serve the people, deliver them and prosper them. You can see this idea being repeated throughout the Bible. Leaders are supposed to place the welfare of their people above their own. Those who failed to do so would eventually fell from their leadership position.
If you happen to be a leader now, the only way for you to secure your position and get the people you lead to be loyal to you consider their welfare to be above yours.
Next, Samuel reminded the Israelites that the Lord is their only source of deliverance and prosperity.
6 “It was the Lord who appointed Moses and Aaron,” Samuel continued. “He brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt.
7 Now stand here quietly before the Lord as I remind you of all the great things the Lord has done for you and your ancestors.
8 “When the Israelites were in Egypt and cried out to the Lord, he sent Moses and Aaron to rescue them from Egypt and to bring them into this land.
9 But the people soon forgot about the Lord their God, so he handed them over to Sisera, the commander of Hazor’s army, and also to the Philistines and to the king of Moab, who fought against them.
10 “Then they cried to the Lord again and confessed, ‘We have sinned by turning away from the Lord and worshiping the images of Baal and Ashtoreth. But we will worship you and you alone if you will rescue us from our enemies.’
11 Then the Lord sent Gideon, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel to save you, and you lived in safety.
12 “But when you were afraid of Nahash, the king of Ammon, you came to me and said that you wanted a king to reign over you, even though the Lord your God was already your king.
13 All right, here is the king you have chosen. You asked for him, and the Lord has granted your request.
1 Samuel 12:6-13 (NLT)
The above passage is a short history on how the Lord had delivered Israel each time they were in trouble. In the end the Lord even gave them a king when they asked for one.
14 “Now if you fear and worship the Lord and listen to his voice, and if you do not rebel against the Lord’s commands, then both you and your king will show that you recognize the Lord as your God.
15 But if you rebel against the Lord’s commands and refuse to listen to him, then his hand will be as heavy upon you as it was upon your ancestors.
1 Samuel 12:14-15 (NLT)
Here is the warning. They were living under the Covenant of Law at that time. So, obedience to God was vital for their continual success and prosperity. However, if they chose to rebel against he Lord, they would be in deep trouble. I would like to draw your attention to the last part: “then his hand will be as heavy upon you as it was upon your ancestors.”
God’s hand will be heavy on those who disobeyed him. Please note that it was the hand of God and not the heart of God that punished them if they rebelled. God is not a pervert the way religious people accused him to be. The Israelites were living under the Covenant of Law. This covenant made them rich when they obeyed God and made them poor when they didn’t.
Samuel proceeded to give a bad news to them.
16 “Now stand here and see the great thing the Lord is about to do.
17 You know that it does not rain at this time of the year during the wheat harvest. I will ask the Lord to send thunder and rain today. Then you will realize how wicked you have been in asking the Lord for a king!”
18 So Samuel called to the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day. And all the people were terrified of the Lord and of Samuel.
19 “Pray to the Lord your God for us, or we will die!” they all said to Samuel. “For now we have added to our sins by asking for a king.”
1 Samuel 12:16-19 (NLT)
He got his message across very well. Every one of his audience was fearful and regretted their sins.
20 “Don’t be afraid,” Samuel reassured them. “You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart, and don’t turn your back on him.
21 Don’t go back to worshiping worthless idols that cannot help or rescue you—they are totally useless!
22 The Lord will not abandon his people, because that would dishonor his great name. For it has pleased the Lord to make you his very own people.
1 Samuel 12:20-22 (NLT)
Here comes the assurance. What was done cannot be undone. It was time to move forward. They might have sinned for asking for a king but the Lord was gracious enough to forgive them and even bless their king if they chose to obey him. I like the last part that says “The Lord will not abandon his people, because that would dishonor his great name. For it has pleased the Lord to make you his very own people.”
The Lord will never abandon his people. If you are a Christian, you are his people. He had promised that he will deliver you.
If you are sick, he will heal you.
If you are poor, he will make you rich.
It you had failed, he will bring you success.
In short, he will bring abundance in every area in your life. The question here is, are you willing to obey him? Obedience to God will result in prosperity.
23 “As for me, I will certainly not sin against the Lord by ending my prayers for you. And I will continue to teach you what is good and right.
24 But be sure to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. Think of all the wonderful things he has done for you.
25 But if you continue to sin, you and your king will be swept away.”
1 Samuel 12:23-25 (NLT)
Samuel’s roles were limited to prayers and teaching. The task of ruling the nation was in Saul’s shoulders. Samuel continued to remind the people to fear the Lord and faithfully serve him. They were instructed to think of all the wonderful things God has done for them. In other words, think positive. Positive thinking comes from God. God wants his people to think positive at all times. Unfortunately, “Christians” are among the most negative thinkers. All you have to do is to step into a religious church and you are likely to listen to all those religious sermons that promote negative thinking. This is why, in my view it is better not to go to any church than to go to religious churches that promote negative thoughts.
In conclusion, as Christians we are to obey God and think positive at all times.