Many politicians, sports stars, and high-ranking leaders have put a capstone on their career with a rousing farewell speech. Farewell speeches have been used to reflect on past victories, to rouse people to action, and to show appreciation to supporters along the way. These speeches have often inspired others to change their course for good.
In 1 Samuel 12, we have the farewell address of Samuel to the people of Israel. This would be the last time that Samuel would publicly address the entire nation. Samuel had faithfully served the nation of Israel and had continually spoken God’s messages to the people. Samuel’s speech was less of a cleverly written speech to display elegance and impress the people, but rather was focused on the clear-cut truth that the people needed to hear.
Samuel had walked with integrity before men and God for the many years he had served in leadership. And Samuel reminded the people of his faithfulness before God. He said, “Behold, here I am: witness against me before the Lord, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? Or whose ass have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith?” (v. 3). Samuel closed the book cleanly on his many years of faithful service. And the nation agreed with his claim.
Samuel would go on, however, to turn the people’s minds to God’s faithfulness. Samuel recounted how the Lord delivered the people out of Egypt. He recounted the times that God showed mercy upon them. He recounted the times that God delivered them from their enemies.
After recounting God’s faithfulness, Samuel turned their attention back to themselves. Samuel reminded them of the covenant which promised blessings if they obeyed and cursing if they disobeyed the Lord. Samuel reminded them of their great wickedness in asking for a king.
The people responded by asking Samuel to pray for them that they die not. Samuel told them that they had made a mistake but that he would pray for them and teach them God’s Word. Samuel closed his speech by challenging them to “fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all your heart” (v. 24).
Samuel was a leader of integrity. He had lived a faithful life before the Lord. He reminded the people of God’s faithfulness and he called upon the people to be faithful to God.
This is an example that every Christian would do well to follow. Are your completely loyal to God in your personal walk? Do you speak to others of God’s faithfulness? Are you challenging those around you to be faithful to God?