Samuel Tells Israel to Serve the Lord
1Samuel spoke to all of the people of Israel. He said, "I've done everything you asked me to do. I've placed a king over you. 2Now you have a king as your leader. But I'm old. My hair is gray. My sons are here with you. I've been your leader from the time I was young until this very day.
3"Here I stand. Bring charges against me if you can. The Lord is a witness. And so is his anointed king. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Have I cheated anyone? Have I beaten anyone down? Have I accepted money from anyone who wanted special favors? If I've done any of those things, I'll make it right."
4"You haven't cheated us," they replied. "You haven't beaten us down. You haven't taken anything from anyone."
5Samuel said to them, "The Lord is a witness against you this very day. And so is his anointed king. They are witnesses that I haven't taken anything from any of you."
"The Lord is a witness," they said.
6Then Samuel said to the people, "The Lord appointed Moses and Aaron. He brought up out of Egypt your people who lived long ago. 7Now then, stand here. I'm going to remind you of all of the good things the Lord has done for you and your people. He is a witness.
8"After Jacob's family entered Egypt, they cried out to the Lord for help. The Lord sent Moses and Aaron. They brought your people out of Egypt. They settled them in this land.
9"But the people forgot the Lord their God. So he gave them over to the powerful hand of Sisera. Sisera was the commander of the army of Hazor. The Lord also gave the people of Israel over to the powerful hand of the Philistines and the king of Moab. All of those nations fought against Israel.
10"So the people cried out to the Lord. They said, 'We have sinned. We've deserted the Lord. We've served the gods that are named after Baal. We've served the goddesses that are named after Ashtoreth. But save us now from the powerful hands of our enemies. Then we will serve you.'
11"The Lord sent Gideon, Barak, Jephthah and me. He saved you from the hands of your enemies, who were all around you. So you lived in safety.
12"But then you saw that Nahash, the king of Ammon, was about to attack you. So you said to me, 'No! We want a king to rule over us.' You said it even though the Lord your God was your king. 13Now here is the king you have chosen. He's the one you asked for. The Lord has placed a king over you.
14"But you must have respect for the Lord. You must serve him and obey him. You must not say no to his commands. Both you and the king who rules over you must follow the Lord your God. If you do, that's good. 15But you must not disobey him. You must not say no to his commands. If you do, his powerful hand will punish you. That's what happened to your people who lived before you.
16"So stand still. Watch the great thing the Lord is about to do right here in front of you! 17It's time to gather in the wheat, isn't it? I'll call out to the Lord to send thunder and rain. Then you will realize what an evil thing you did in the sight of the Lord. You shouldn't have asked for a king."
18Samuel called out to the Lord. That same day the Lord sent thunder and rain. So all of the people had great respect for the Lord and for Samuel.
19They said to Samuel, "Pray to the Lord your God for us. Pray that we won't die because we asked for a king. That was an evil thing to do. We added it to all of our other sins."
20"Don't be afraid," Samuel replied. "It's true that you have done all of those evil things. But don't turn away from the Lord. Serve him with all your heart.
21"Don't turn away and worship statues of gods. They are useless. They can't do you any good. They can't save you either. They are completely useless.
22"But the Lord will be true to his great name. He won't turn his back on his people. That's because he was pleased to make you his own people.
23"I would never sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. I'll teach you to live in a way that is good and right.
24"But be sure to have respect for the Lord. Serve him faithfully. Do it with all your heart. Think about the great things he has done for you. 25But don't be stubborn. Don't continue to do what is evil. If you do, both you and your king will be swept away."