Controversial Choice

1 Samuel 8:1-6

1When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. 2The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

4So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” 6But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord.

Choose

If you were to buy clothes, how do you choose? Do you choose clothes according to fashion, color, price or clothes that are comfortable? If you were to eat in a restaurant, do you order food you’ve tasted before or nutritious food?

In life, we’ve got to make choices. Whatever choice we make will reflect our mindset, personality or lifestyle. You believe that God gave us life, don’t you?

If the life we’ve got has originated from God, we may know partially but not 100% completely sure what lifestyle is best for us, right? God gives us life, and He takes our life back anytime He deems the time is right. It says in Job 1:21, 1Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.

Our lifestyle, mindset, and the manner we practice our faith in Christ are essential factors for the responsibilities that God has prepared for us to take.

The Lord Jesus said in Luke 17:10-11, 10“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?

During his time as leader of Israel, there’s no controversy, no complaint against Prophet Samuel. He had outstanding record except when he appointed his sons as leaders of Israel. They were dishonest in their practices.

1. Dishonest

1When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. 2The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.

We heard it said, “Like father, like son.” This is often used to praise or deride somebody. If a father is drunkard and the son is also drunkard, someone may comment, “Like father, like son.” It’s not biblical, though. Have you read it in the Bible? While some children could be influenced by the habits of their parents, still others may prefer to forge or establish their own destiny or identity.

The life story of Samuel offers a biblical proof that there’s no guarantee for children to follow the lifestyle or habits of their parents. Samuel led with honesty but his sons were dishonest. They decided to explore the opposite path. They did not seek the will of God and may have judged or led according to their instinct.

Did the dishonesty of the sons of Samuel tarnished or tainted his honesty?

It says in Ecclesiastes 10:1, 1As dead flies give perfume a bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.

This is Business!

A newly employed associate pastor of a mega-church attended business meeting among church leaders. After almost an hour of arguments, the church leaders can’t agree in their opinions. They were not getting anywhere. So, the new associate pastor commented, “Why not seek the will of God in this matter?”

And, the leader seated next to him who was a lawyer said, “Let God be out of this. This is business!” The new associate pastor replied, “How can you let God be out of the church business? Church business is God’s business!”

The lawyer may have established a good legacy in the Christian circle for his willingness to get involved in church ministries but his mindset of not involving God in church decisions was foolishness. That’s like “a dead fly in a perfume.”

Prophet Samuel may have established a commendable reputation early in his career, but when he grew old and appointed his sons as leaders. Did Samuel pray about his decision? Probably, yet the Lord allowed them to be greedy.

It says Proverbs 29:4, 4By justice a king gives a country stability, but those who are greedy for bribes tear it down.

Bribery is not limited to the use of money. It can also be in other forms of valuable consideration favorable to a briber indirectly. Bribery perverts. It corrupts the behavior of a person to perform or execute justice or decision honestly.

For example: Elected officials may favor a company not because they received money but as payback to the support they received during election.

The sons of Samuel accepted bribes. Possibly, they never sought the Lord in their decision-making. The Lord allowed them to follow their wickedness which became the turning point for the Israelites to ask Samuel for a king. It displeased Samuel tough. Why was Samuel displeased when Israel asked him for a king?

2. Displeasing

4So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” 6But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord.

Israel had peace during the time when Samuel was their leader. When he appointed his sons as leaders, the elders of Israel may have heard a rumor that other nations, particularly the Philistines, were preparing to attack Israel. We will find out later that the Philistines advanced to attack Israel.

Merchants from other nations had business transaction among Israelites, and they may have gossiped about a possible attack. Or Israelites who visited their friends or relatives among the Philistines may have heard about it.

Anyway, Samuel was displeased. He didn’t like it when the elders of Israel told him to appoint a king for them. He may have interpreted it as rejection of his decision when he appointed his sons as leaders. Samuel may have heard about the wickedness of his sons but he just cannot control them. The elders of Israel were tactful and careful. They just said that his sons didn’t follow his ways.

We heard it says in Proverbs 22:6, 6Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.

And in Ephesians 6:4, 4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Many parents are dedicated in their desire to teach their children according to the word of God. Yet, not everyone have positive results. Why? People are quick to blame the strategy or approach on how they teach their children. While many would despise strictness or autocratic style of parenting others cannot appreciate a laid back or passive style of parenting.

Boxing

One of the greatest Filipino boxers was Gabriel “Flash” Elorde. His sons joined the boxing world not as boxer but promoters in boxing. Senator Manny Pacquiao didn’t want his sons to join boxing but his namesake son has started boxing. It’s yet to be proven if he will become a great boxer like his father. One son may not want to box but another son wants to be like his father as boxer.

As much as parents dream to have children like them, parents don’t control destiny. Well, most if not all great leaders in the Bible weren’t great fathers. Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Samuel, David, and Job were commended for their righteousness but they have sons who explored opposite path.

Church leaders, pastors, and ordinary believers are not exempted. Parents or not, all believers are God’s children. We all have to decide how we manage and live the life God has given us. We cannot and don’t have control of results.

It says in Hebrews 9:27-28, 27Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Are you eager in waiting for the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ?

In the end, every person, believers or potential believers will face the Lord. The Lord will judge all of us, not according to our parents or children but based on what we did or how we manage the life God has given us.

Remember: Our choices and decisions serve as testament of our faith in Christ.

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