“Don’t Chase After Ghost-Gods”
1-3Samuel addressed all Israel: “I’ve listened to everything you’ve said to me, listened carefully to every word, and I’ve given you a king. See for yourself: Your king among you, leading you! But now look at me: I’m old and gray, and my sons are still here. I’ve led you faithfully from my youth until this very day. Look at me! Do you have any complaints to bring before God and his anointed? Have I ever stolen so much as an ox or a donkey? Have I ever taken advantage of you or exploited you? Have I ever taken a bribe or played fast and loose with the law? Bring your complaint and I’ll make it right.”
4“Oh no,” they said, “never. You’ve never done any of that—never abused us, never lined your own pockets.”
5“That settles it then,” said Samuel. “God is witness, and his anointed is witness that you find nothing against me—no faults, no complaints.”
6-8And the people said, “He is witness.”
Samuel continued, “This is the God who made Moses and Aaron your leaders and brought your ancestors out of Egypt. Take your stand before him now as I review your case before God in the light of all the righteous ways in which God has worked with you and your ancestors. When Jacob’s sons entered Egypt, the Egyptians made life hard for them and they cried for help to God. God sent Moses and Aaron, who led your ancestors out of Egypt and settled them here in this place.
9“They soon forgot their God, so he sold them off to Sisera, commander of Hazor’s army, later to a hard life under the Philistines, and still later to the king of Moab. They had to fight for their lives.
10“Then they cried for help to God. They confessed, ‘We’ve sinned! We’ve gone off and left God and worshiped the fertility gods and goddesses of Canaan. Oh, deliver us from the brutalities of our enemies and we’ll worship you alone.’
11“So God sent Jerub-Baal (Gideon), Bedan (Barak), Jephthah, and Samuel. He saved you from that hard life surrounded by enemies, and you lived in peace.
12“But when you saw Nahash, king of the Ammonites, preparing to attack you, you said to me, ‘No more of this. We want a king to lead us.’ And God was already your king!
13-15“So here’s the king you wanted, the king you asked for. God has let you have your own way, given you a king. If you fear God, worship and obey him, and don’t rebel against what he tells you. If both you and your king follow God, no problem. God will be sure to save you. But if you don’t obey him and rebel against what he tells you, king or no king, you will fare no better than your fathers.
16-17“Pay attention! Watch this wonder that God is going to perform before you now! It’s summer, as you well know, and the rainy season is over. But I’m going to pray to God. He’ll send thunder and rain, a sign to convince you of the great wrong you have done to God by asking for a king.”
18Samuel prayed to God, and God sent thunder and rain that same day. The people were greatly afraid and in awe of God and of Samuel.
19Then all the people begged Samuel, “Pray to your God for us, your servants. Pray that we won’t die! On top of all our other sins, we’ve piled on one more—asking for a king!”
20-22Samuel said to them, “Don’t be fearful. It’s true that you have done something very wrong. All the same, don’t turn your back on God. Worship and serve him heart and soul! Don’t chase after ghost-gods. There’s nothing to them. They can’t help you. They’re nothing but ghost-gods! God, simply because of who he is, is not going to walk off and leave his people. God took delight in making you into his very own people.
23-25“And neither will I walk off and leave you. That would be a sin against God! I’m staying right here at my post praying for you and teaching you the good and right way to live. But I beg of you, fear God and worship him honestly and heartily. You’ve seen how greatly he has worked among you! Be warned: If you live badly, both you and your king will be thrown out.”