Summary: We look at six lessons that Samuel teaches us about how to deal with people who will not follow godly advice.
Well today we are going to wrap up our series looking at the life of Samuel. If you recall in week one we looked at Samuel’s lifelong habit of telling God’s truth. And then as a Judge of Israel, in week two, we examined the 6 step process that Samuel used to return people to God. But today we come to Samuel as an old man.
In a 2006 article in time magazine in an article called "Why We Worry About the Things We Shouldn't” Jeffrey Kluger, writes:
As human beings, we pride ourselves on being the only species that understands the concept of risk. Yet we have a confounding habit of worrying about mere possibilities while ignoring probabilities—of building barricades against perceived dangers while leaving ourselves exposed to real ones.
For example, we agonize over the avian flu, which [as of December 2006] had killed precisely no one in the U.S., but have to be cajoled into getting vaccinated for the common flu, which contributes to the deaths of 36,000 Americans each year. White-knuckle flyers routinely choose the car when traveling long distances, heedless of the fact that, at most, a few hundred people die in U.S. commercial airline crashes in a year, compared with 44,000 killed in motor-vehicle wrecks.
We wring our hands over the mad cow pathogen that might be (but almost certainly isn't) in our hamburger, yet worry far less about the cholesterol that contributes to the heart disease that kills 700,000 of us annually. Shoppers still look askance at a bag of spinach for fear of E. coli bacteria while filling their carts with fat-sodden French fries and salt-crusted nachos.
We put filters on faucets, install air ionizers in our homes, and lather ourselves with antibacterial soap. At the same time, 20 percent of all adults still smoke; nearly 20 percent of drivers and more than 30 percent of backseat passengers don't use seatbelts; and two-thirds of us are overweight or obese.
In short, shadowed by peril as we are, you would think we'd get pretty good at distinguishing the risks likeliest to do us in from the ones that are statistical long shots. But you would be wrong.
The bottom line of me reading that was simply to make this point, as humans we are really quite good at making really quite bad decisions. And while we hate it when our bad decisions come back to bite us, we really hate it when we see someone we love about to make a bad decision that we can help them avoid. But what should we do when our wisdom, even God’s wisdom is ignored?
This is exactly the dilemma that Samuel found himself facing in his old age. We read about it in 1 Samuel 8 (read text)
Samuel has a life time of wisdom behind him; he is a man who has demonstrated integrity throughout his ministry as judge to the Nation of Israel. But now the people have asked for something that God does not yet want to give; a king, and despite Samuel’s warning they choose to ignore it.
That’s tough isn’t it? Have you ever been in a situation where you know you’re right and yet the other party still won’t do what you say? How do you handle that? How should you handle that? Well let’s take a look at what Samuel did and what lessons we can learn along the way.
First, I’d like for us to note that Samuel had two sons, one was named “Yahweh is God” which is translated Joel, and the other is called “Yahweh is my father” which is translated Abijah. Two sons, who, according to their names, were raised to know and obey the ways of God. But we read that they “did not follow… they turned aside…” Samuel set for his sons a good example, he provided proper instruction but as they grew older they chose not to follow.
Friends, the reality is that while we can give our best advice and our finest example ultimately people will choose their own path. Their choice is not always a reflection of your influence. Some of you have children who do not yet walk with God and you blame yourself, when the reality is they chose. And self-blame is really an undeserved, torturous self-condemnation for something not within your power. And you need to know that the poor choices of children are not always a reflection of the parents teaching. I am tempted to say forgive yourself, but the reality is there is nothing to forgive because the wrong decisions of your children are not yours to be forgiven of. You do not need to carry that burden and I urge you to let it go. Lesson # 1: Bad choices on the part of others, does not necessarily mean bad leadership on our part.