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 […] 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. But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.
1 Samuel 12:20-25
In my devotions, I’ve been reading through the sad account of Israel rejecting the Lord as their king and demanding a fallible man (Saul) as leader over the country. It has to be a heartbreaking end to Samuel’s life and work as a prophet and judge, but what struck me is that while he is grieved over this, he — as God — remains faithful and loving to the people.
I was reading the above passage and saw how much Samuel offers his services as a mentor to God’s people during this time of transition. Even though he is “old and grey” (v.2), Samuel doesn’t merely retire or give up. He uses his wisdom and faith to guide the younger generation in several ways:
- He encourages (“Do not be afraid… serve the Lord with all your heart”) — Even though the Israelites have greatly sinned against God in their demand for a human king, he reminds them that God’s wrath will make way for mercy and forgiveness, especially if they re-dedicate their lives to following him.
- He prays (“by failing to pray for you”) — One of the greatest duties of a shepherd is to pray for his flock, and Samuel publicly commits himself to holding up these people in regular prayer.
- He instructs (“I will teach you the way”) — Mentors draw upon years of life experience to help the younger not make the mistakes of youth.
- He reminds (“consider what great things he has done for you”) — Humility, thankfulness, and obedience are drawn from remembering God’s faithfulness in our lives.
- He warns (“both you and your king will perish”) — There is a choice for the people ans Saul to make here, and if it is made wrong, there will be a consequence. Samuel does not sugar-coat it but gives them ample warning so that they can avoid punishment.
From reading this, I have the feeling that Samuel’s greatest legacy might well be the one he established in his old age as a serving mentor to a nation. We should all be so fortunate to have someone like this in our lives to guide us.