Summary: When the Israelites reject Samuel and cry out for a King, God essentially tells Samuel: it’s not about you. This simple piece of advice made a powerful difference for Samuel, and can do the same for us. Find out why.
OPEN: Years ago, when a person would use the telephone operator to help make phone calls, a small boy dialed "O" asked the operator to call a number for him. He didn’t speak clearly, so she had trouble understanding him and asked him to repeat the number several times. After about the fourth time repeating himself, the little boy blurted out "You operators are dumb," and slammed down the receiver.
His mother was in the next room and overheard him and she was aghast and shocked. She gave him a good tongue lashing, marched him right over to the phone, called the operator back and made the boy apologize.
Later, when his mother left the house, and the boy gets back on the phone again.
"Is this the same operator I talked to a little while ago?"
"Yes," came the reply.
"Well," said the boy, "I still think you’re dumb!"
APPLY: How many of you have ever been frustrated with someone? (ask for a show of hands)
How many of you have you ever been angry with another person?
How many have ever had someone say things or do things behind your back - and you knew they did it just to hurt you or irritate you? Have you ever been mistreated? Abused? Snubbed? Shunned?
If you’ve ever experienced anything like that I want to introduce you to somebody who experienced that very same kind of rejection. I want to introduce you to a man named Samuel
Now Samuel had been a prophet of God since he’d been a young man. His mother had given him to God when he was a baby and from that day on he’d been raised in the home of a priest named Eli.
But Eli was not a very good priest. And his sons, who served with him in the tabernacle, were wicked men.
Because of Eli’s weakness and because of his sons’ wickedness God destroyed that entire family.
And then God raised up Samuel as His special servant. Samuel served God as a prophet, a judge, and the leader of the people of Israel.
By the time we get to chapter 8 in I Samuel we’re told that Samuel is now an old man. We don’t know how old he is, but he has served God all his life.
I. During his lifetime Samuel had always been a good judge and leader.
But when he got old……there was trouble in Israel.
Look with me to 1 Samuel 8:2-3
“The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.”
At first glance, it almost sounds like Samuel hasn’t done any better raising his boys than Eli the priest had done with his. BUT unlike Eli’s failure with his sons, I don’t think Samuel failed his boys… I believe they failed him.
Notice it says there in verse 3: “they (Samuel’s sons) did not walk in his ways”.
In other words: Samuel had walked in the right way. He had always honored God by his behavior and actions, but when his boys grew up, they made a conscious decision live their lives differently than he had. They looked at old dad and saw a man who had wasted his life and not taken advantage of the financial advantages of bending truth. So they ended up taking bribes and perverting justice.
Essentially, that would mean their behavior wasn’t Samuel’s fault.
But now, there’s a delegation from the tribes Israel that has gathered at Samuel’s front door… and it appears they are blaming him for his boys’ behavior.
They don’t ask Samuel to CONFRONT his sons.
And they don’t ask Samuel to REPLACE his sons.
And frankly it doesn’t sound like they want Samuel much anymore.
Look with me at 1 Samuel 8:5
“They said to him, ‘You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.’”
In other words:
We’re tired of you
we don’t want YOU
we don’t want YOUR KIDS
we want a King.
Now, the next verse I want you to look at is the key to the entire message today. Look with me at 1 Samuel 8:7
“And the LORD told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; IT IS NOT YOU THEY HAVE REJECTED, but they have rejected me as their king.’”
What’s God telling Samuel?
He’s telling him: “Don’t take this personally. This isn’t about YOU!!!”
Excuse me. (pause) But it’s kind of hard to believe that Samuel wouldn’t take this a little personally.
Samuel had served God and Israel faithfully for a number of years. And now, after all that time of faithful service, a few things have gone wrong and the people he’s devoted himself to all this time want to dump him.