This morning is the next to the last sermon on a series on Samuel. This is 1 Samuel chapter 12 today. To me, this is about good leadership. Samuel was a good leader. You know, I would be more fearful of 500 lambs led by a man eating tiger than 500 man eating Tigers led by one lamb. Think about that. Strong leadership determines success in a business and in a church. As the leader goes so go the people. You've all seen things like that.
I'd like to invite you to open your Bible to 1 Samuel 12. Let's read the first two verses. Samuel said to all Israel, I have listened to all you have said to me..[to end of verses]. Quite a statement, isn't it. You've replaced me. I am retiring. Now you've got a king. Samuel was a strong leader, but alas the time for his retirement had come. And you always wonder, you know when you retire, when you are the head of a company, when you are the head of a church, when you are the prophet of Israel "Who's going to take my place? Are they going to do as well as I did? Are they going to do better than I did?" The time for his retirement had come. The people got to thinking who would be best to our leader, and the change they wanted was monumental.
America is in the process of electing our next president. Imagine the Democratic and Republican conventions both recommending that we change our form of government. They vote that in November Americans vote to give up our currant Presidential System of Government and exchange it for a King system so our leader would be King George Bush. Or King John Kerry. That would be a monumental change.
That's what Israel wanted. The people wanted it. And God allowed them this freedom of choice. You know, God let's you choose what you want. You have to reap the consequences. Soon Saul was selected as their King. There would be no more Judges or prophets to head up the country. Finally the day came for Judge Samuel to step down and pass the wand to King Saul. God had wanted them to be ruled by a Judge. It was not God's idea to switch forms of government. But God allows and blesses plan B even when His first choice is Plan A. And if you are operating on Plan B in your life today, don't forget God's ideal for your life. Don't forget Plan A. Try to get back to plan A, because that is where God wants you to be.
Now, the changing of the guard can be exciting. Have you ever seen the changing of the guard? It is interesting, isn't it. But, Here is one of the most tragic changing of the guards in Scripture. Why is that? They were actually Trading a good king for a bad king. You see, they already had a king. Who was their king? God was their king, wasn't He! And they didn't want a god king, they wanted a human king. They traded God for Saul. In reality God would be one more step removed from the people. You see, in Adam and Eve's time, God spoke face to face with mankind. Then after Sin, God spoke through Patriarchs and then through Prophets, and later through Judges. Now a King would be appointed to lead a Monarchy. Today I think God works through committees. We are far removed from God's Plan A, aren't we? But someday we are going to get back to Plan A, aren't we? That day is coming soon.
They demanded a King. Why? Had God failed them? Was God's service ineffective? Look at God's military record... a 100% winning streak. Did he ever lose a battle for them? Look at God's restaurant business... over 40 years He never missed furnishing them even one meal. And look at how God provided a dry-land-ferry-service to get them over the red sea. God Shaded them in the heat, lit their way in the dark, brought water from rocks, drove off all the biting stinging bugs from their path... God had blessed them more than they deserved to be blessed.
Yet the people wanted a change of leadership. Sometimes I think their IQ was minus 100. I think they were many, many bricks short of a load. Well, the day arrived to change the guard and both Samuel and Saul stood before them. And I want you to picture old bent over white headed Samuel, who never had a hair cut in his life, according to 1 Samuel 1:11. Here he stands. He is outdoors, the wind is blowing he long white hair. He must have been impressive. He never shaved his beard either. Never cut a hair on his head. Imagine what that would be like after that many years. He is stepping down as their leader. But before his last official speech, Samuel first reviewed his own past leadership.
It was a series of Questions leaving Samuel open to extraordinary vulnerability. In verse 3 Samuel says: HERE I STAND. And then he says "Testify against me." And then he has a lot of questions:
And in unison the people said, "no you are faultless." Have you ever known anybody like Samuel? Can you name one person today, one human being alive today that is fauless? Is anybody here today faultless? Please raise your hand. It is rare that we would know one person who has lived a saintly live from youth to age 70 or 80, however old Samuel was. He was their from the age of three wasn't he. Everybody knew him. He was the little kid that his mother dropped off one day. He's that little kid, he's lived a faithful, Godly life of integrity before us. He never made a mistake. He's been an impeccable pastor or priest for as long as anyone can remember.
You know, one goal of our life ought to be to finish well. You want to finish strong don't you? You don't want to just trickle out, with people glad to get rid of you. You want to finish strong. Far too many don't finish strong. And Saul needed to know that the secret of effective leadership is a rock solid relationship with Jesus Christ. He needed to know that. Every pastor must live a life beyond a doubt.
Now the only thing I ever knew that Samuel did and that I've been able to read on the Bible was that his two sons were not chips off the old block. His two sons went in a way that Samuel did not go. You can read that in chapter 8, verses 2 to 5. But God does not hold this against Samuel. In selecting officers some have thought that an Elder, for instance, must be perfect. His children need to be perfect. Are you going to find anybody like that? Titus 1:6 An elder must be blameless. Publicly blameless. No perfect. Nobody will ever be perfect. We think his kids must be impeccable. Samuel's sons were not. Let me tell you something, our adult children are responsible to God for themselves. If you have done your best and raised them right. If you have set the example in front of them, you believe in them, you don't give up on them, you keep praying for them, you love them that's all you can do. But if you are a leader, you owe it to your church to maintain a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
The facts are that All the great Bible leaders except Jesus Christ were defective. How do we know that? Because the Bible says in Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Everybody! Moses, Abraham, everybody. The church leadership has always been imperfect. So has the church membership. The people fell short of God's model. The prophets fell short, the priests, so did Saul, and so do we.
Samuel had been a faithful leader. Like Timothy, Samuel had been acquainted with God from youth 2 Timothy 3:15. Like Daniel, Samuel had lived from his teenage years a faithful life.. Leadership is very important. And I will tell you that because Samuel was a great leader, you know what happened to the people? It says in 1 Samuel 7:13, . . . Throughout Samuel's lifetime, the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines. People enjoyed a blessing because Samuel was a godly leader.
Leadership is so important. We have all seen bad leadership. We have seen bad leadership in the church. Such times are an embarrassment to the church. Some churches are closed. Many churches have to close their doors due to bad leadership. God's church deserves the best leadership. God's schools deserve the best teachers. God's Sabbath School teachers ought to e the best there are. If you are a Sabbath School teacher, or deacon or whatever, be the best you can be. Live a good life so as to demonstrate in your home and community what Jesus can do when He has total charge of somebody's life.
Remember that great tanker Exxon Valdez, one of the greatest oil tankers in the world? That giant ship spilled over 10 million gallons of crude oil out there on the coasts of Alaska. It was one of the worst ecological disasters Alaska had ever experienced. This huge oil tanker san't some antique, it was equipped with the most modern navigational instruments that money cold buy. It had radar, it had radio, it had depth finders, it had global positioning system equipment. It had everything there was. But on March 24, 1989 that giant of the seas ran into the rocks near the shore and broke open. You may remember people scooping up that miry muck off the shores of Alaska. The facts are that you could have the finest equipment in the world, but the destiny of the greatest ship on the ocean is in the hands of its captain.
The message of Samuel for us today is that if you are a leader, you need to be a good leader. You need to be the best you can be, because so much is riding on your shoulders. **** Be a good parent. A good employee. Whatever you do, do it as you are doing it to God.
After Samuel's reputation was publically venerated he was free to say whatever he wanted to them. You can't effectively reprimand someone until you yourself have been cleared. The best discipline is to discipline your youngsters only after you have disciplined yourself.
Samuel gave his last official speech. If you were giving your last sermon or teaching your last lesson, what would you say? Samuel taught them a history lesson. Why History? Is History going to shape my future? Absolutely! How? We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.--LS 196 (1902)
Every present generation must be reminded of How God led their forefathers. Tell your kids how God has led your family. Share family miracles of yesteryear. Relate answered family prayers. Such knowledge can save your family.
1 Samuel 12:8-11 tells how God had been like a mother hen protecting His people, fighting their battles and rescuing them from their enemies. Here Samuel also reminded them of bad times that came when they forgot God. Each time they turned to God He delivered them and He received glory from the watching world.
Today when we are in trouble we turn to the Paycheck Advance Company or Pawn Shop. We go to worldly counselors. We ought to go to God first. Give God a chance to solve your crisis and get the Godly glory He deserves. 1 Sam 12:12 "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.
I can picture the Israelites getting fidgety at this point. They could see that their request for a king was a slap in God's face. Next the elderly white bearded Samuel warned them: 1 Sam 12:14 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! 1 Sam 12:15 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 fathers.
Are we saved by our obedience? No. We are saved by Grace Eph 2:8-10. But when our love for Jesus Christ gets stronger we will want to develop a character like Jesus. Our obedience to God's will is one of the conditions of His blessings being mounded upon us.
The people stood before Samuel. It was summer time. They were in the midst of the Dry season. Rain was rare as snowflakes in August. It was time for Samuels last attainment.
As a last trump card, Samuel tapped into God's meteorological arsenal. God's whole kit and caboodle seemed to fall upon the group. A devastating storm quickly descended upon them. Lightening Zealously zigzagged down from the heavens Zeroing in upon them. Thunder stepped down like a monstrous giant walking upon the earth, creating deep rumbling sounds as the earths tectonic plates cracked beneath his feet. The fear of God came upon the multitude.
The supernatural storm with sound effects may have even wiped out much of their wheat harvest. It could have been worse than hurricane Frances. This miracle confirmed Samuel's authority. The storm was a slap in the face to BAAL worshipers. Baal was the rain god. It NEVER rained in palestine in the summer. That torrential rain proved the real God . The fear of God rushed upon them all. They had sinned in asking for a king. The people quivered in fear.
The Post Modern Generation is losing their fear of God and of wrongdoing. Too many think God won't punish their iniquity. Preachers proclaim that God is LOVE (which is correct) so God won't judge you (which is incorrect). We want an easy God, when we need more respect for God.
1 Samuel 12:20-22. "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. Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own.
They were evil but God would continue to treat them with kindness and love. God has a soft spot in His great heart for His people.
1 Samuel 12:23-25 As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. (Can a failure to pray ever be a sin?) 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 be swept away."
They did persist in doing Evil. Was their King swept away? Yes! Saul would soon fall consulting with a witch. Were they swept away? Yes! Eventually they were all swept off to Babylon all because they had persisted in evil. Samuel's conditional prophecy came true.
Friend, will you stand or fall? Persist in the good. Avoid evil. Cling to Jesus. And Praise Jesus our blessed Redeemer who can save us from sin.
SOURCES: Patriarchs and Prophets, Ellen White, Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1958.
The Books of Samuel, volume 1, by Cyril J. Barber, Loizeaux, Neptune, New Jersey 1994.
1st and 2nd Samuel, by J. Vernon McGee, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, 1991.
Men of Character, Samuel, by Gene A. Getz, Broadman and Holman, Nashville, TN, 1997.
Bible Amplifier, Samuel, by Alden Thompson, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Boise, ID, 1995.
The NIV Application Commentary, 1st and 2nd Samuel, by Bill T. Arnold, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI 2003.
Chosen to be God's prophet, Lessons from the life of Samuel, by Henry Blackaby, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN, 2003.
Hymn of Praise: #36, O Thou in Whose Presence Scripture: 1 Samuel 12:23, 24 Hymn of Response: #249, Praise Him! Praise Him!
Return to McDonald Road Sermons Index
Return to McDonald Road SDA Church Home Page
McDonald Road Sermons converted to HTML and
last updated September 4, 2004 by Bob Beckett.