A funny conversation often occurs in my home when people come to visit. We’ll be standing in the kitchen, visiting or waiting for food and someone will glance at our fridge. “Um, why are you going to so many weddings?” they ask. Or, “Why are you invited to so many graduations this year? Your kids are young.” This observation always makes me smile because, for twenty years, that’s the way our fridge has looked.
The reason our family is perpetually in “wedding season” or “graduation season” is that I am married to an educator and a coach. Even though we keep getting older, each year we have eighteen-year-old student-athletes who are graduating and others getting married. Thus, each year we receive multiple wedding invitations and invitations to celebrate new graduates.
As you might imagine, our perpetual presence in these seasons of transition means we have heard quite a few reflective, motivational, or inspirational speeches. Whether it’s a dad at a reception, the valedictorian at a graduation ceremony, or the officiant at a wedding, we’ve heard many people try to capture “Here’s everything I want to say to you” in a handful of important lines. It’s always neat to hear what people want to be sure to say during these important times.
These experiences recently came to mind when I went pacing through the book of 1 Samuel. I’ve actually written about Samuel before, including the early circumstances around his call from God (1 Sam. 3) because his life is so fascinating to me. Unlike so many others in the Bible, Samuel did it right from beginning to end. There were no major scandals, he was respected, and he ended well. Not an easy task for someone God asked to lead a rather hard-headed people.
First Samuel 12 is subtitled, “Samuel’s Farewell Speech.” From his youth, Samuel served God’s people as the last judge. But as Samuel got older, the people began to demand a king to lead them instead. Despite resistance from Samuel and warnings from God, the people were eventually granted what they wished for, and Samuel anointed Saul as king (1 Sam. 8, 10).
Samuel was not leaving his job serving God’s people, but Saul being made king was a transition in the way things would be done. At that moment, Samuel took the opportunity to give a speech to the people he had been leading. Given that Samuel was such a good leader, it seems it might be helpful for us to consider what he included in his speech (Read 1 Samuel 12 for the full text).
Components of Samuel’s Farewell Speech
Reflection: To begin, Samuel reflects on his time leading these people. He talks about how long they have been together and their relationships with one another. In a bold move, he even asks them if he has ever been a poor leader! Both parties agree he’s done a good job. He follows this by reflecting on all the ways God has provided for them and their ancestors from the beginning until now.
Caution: Like any good leader, Samuel’s speech continues to guide these folks, even as his role is transitioning. He reminds them the past is full of evidence that bad things happen when people “forget the Lord.” He gives examples from the exodus out of Egypt and when they were given into the hands of the Philistines. He cautions them not to follow this pattern and reminds them of the consequences if they do.
To read the other components see the full post on The Glorious Table.