1 Samuel 12, 19-23
Something to read
And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.
And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart;
And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain.
For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.
Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:
King James Version
All the people said to Samuel, "Pray to the Lord your God for your servants, so that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of demanding a king for ourselves."
And Samuel said to the people, "Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart;
and do not turn aside after useless things that cannot profit or save, for they are useless. For the Lord will not cast away his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.
Moreover as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
Samuel's farewell speech, forming the whole of chapter 12, marks the transition from his leadership to Saul's kingship. He has reminded the people of their choice to have a king, but that the terms of the covenant are unchanged. The choice of a king need not lead to disaster as long as the king and the people remain faithful to God.
Although Samuel is handing over his leadership, he promises to pray for the people and to 'instruct [them] in the right and the good way.' There is a clear role for Israel's prophets alongside the kings in the governance of the people. The prayers and instruction of the prophets will help the people to follow and keep God's covenant.
There are prophets today who remind us today of a bleak future for the world if we act out of accordance with God's will. They challenge the accepted view and call for change. And we need to listen to the scientists who warn of the disastrous consequences for millions of people if global temperatures rise more than 2 ºC; to the economists who expose the shady world of tax dodging.
Prophetic voices are not usually popular ones. But, as today's reading shows us, we ignore them at our peril.
Something to do
Samuel is clear that the world needs prophets as well as leaders. Is there an issue that you feel particularly strongly about that you or your church could speak out about? Look here for ways in which you can get involved in Christian Aid's campaigning work, speaking out and calling for change.
Something to pray
God of the prophets, open our ears to the prophets today. And may we be prophetic communities, rejecting the status quo and speaking of life and hope, even when the world tells us it is impossible.
Today's contributor is Kate Tuckett, Christian Aid's Church Resources Manager.