“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.” 1 Samuel 12.1-5
The title of this passage in my NIV is “Samuel’s Goodbye Speech” but I see it more as “Samuel’s Advice.” In this first segment, Samuel speaks with the people of Israel and asks them directly if there is anything that he has done to sin against God or the people. He says, “Testify against me, in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken?” “Whose donkey? Whom have I cheated? Oppressed?”
One gets a sense that Samuel is gearing up for something. He is proving to the people that he is obedient and has followed the Law and that the people “have found nothing in my hand,” i.e. no sins that Samuel has committed against the Lord or the people.
So what is he doing? Stating his character case to the people to give them some advice in truth about how they have been livIng? Precisely. The rest of this chapter reveals how they have sinned and how God has been a faithful deliverer to the people all the way back to Abraham and Moses.
Sometimes God needs to correct or reproof us. This is no secret. We are sinful people and God often brings others our way to help correct us. He will use godly people, not perfect, but still holy, who are seeking the Lord, to get us on the right path. They will encourage us to imitate Jesus and to trust in the Lord once again. His ways are just and right and we are God’s people who make Jesus our Messiah.
Have you had friends come into your life and love you? Forgive you? Redirect you towards holiness? I know I have. I am but servant of Christ seeking to honor him and follow the direction he set out for me. And in so doing, God brings folks like Samuel to instruct us in the ways we should live.
“O Lord God, I am trying to walk according to the steps of Jesus. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail. I desire to know you, love you and serve you. Continue to mold and shape me. Bless my family and lead me toward your path of righteousness. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen