The Good and the Right Way

There is a striking lesson and much encouragement for those who serve God amongst His saints in Samuel's address to Israel when they demanded a king such as other nations had (1 Sam. 12). What lay behind that demand was lack of confidence in God. Israel had forgotten His mighty works of old and had been very faithless to their covenant with Him, and Samuel had to say to them, "Ye have done all this wickedness." And yet he exhorted them to "fear not," and the basis for this encouragement for them was that God was faithful, that He had not forgotten them or ceased to care for them. This is most beautifully expressed in verse 22 of the chapter, "FOR THE LORD WILL NOT FORSAKE HIS PEOPLE FOR HIS GREAT NAME'S SAKE: BECAUSE IT HATH PLEASED THE LORD TO MAKE YOU HIS PEOPLE."

Now the knowledge of God's faithfulness had its effect first of all upon Samuel, and he says to them: Because God won't forsake you neither will I; because He will continue to care for you so will I. I am His servant and so I will serve you, for you are precious to Him, you are His chosen people. So, "AS FOR ME, GOD FORBID THAT I SHOULD SIN AGAINST THE LORD IN CEASING TO PRAY FOR YOU: BUT I WILL TEACH YOU THE GOOD AND THE RIGHT WAY."

Nothing could be grander than this. Samuel had listened to the Word of the Lord, and was one of the men of prayer of the Old Testament. He had learnt in communion with God what His people were to Him. Hence He would exercise this loving patience towards them. He would by His conduct amongst them manifest God's feelings towards them. He saw them so identified with the Lord's Name and glory that to cease to serve them he knew would be to sin against the Lord.

This has not been the way of all who have professed to serve the Lord. Some seemed devoted for a while, but the test came and proved that they were not thinking the Lord's thoughts about His people, nor considering His great name's sake in connection with their service towards them. Self was mingled with their devotion, and because they were not accorded that recognition that they looked for they ceased to serve, from feelings of wounded pride. Or sectarian feelings, which always spring up from the flesh, governed them, and made them think more of the prosperity of a party or a special cause than of the whole company of God's redeemed people. We know something of the miserable bigotry and spitefulness of the flesh when it works in this sectarian way, for it is in all of us, and the more hateful is it because often working under a cloak of pretended faithfulness to God.

But we desire to point out "the good and the right way," for no servant of the Lord can lead others in it unless he is walking in it first himself. Faithfulness to God made Samuel serve on, even though the people had rejected him as they had rejected the God whom he served. It was sufficient for him that God loved them and had chosen them; this made them precious to him, so that in spite of their wicked ways he continued to intercede for them. And though the more he loved the less he was loved he did not stand aloof from them censoriously, or allow them to drift to ruin, as though they were nothing to him. No, he would lay hold of God for them by prayer, and he would lay hold of them for God by teaching them the good and the right way.

The need is men of Samuel's spirit, more intercessors, servants, pastors of this sort, and so much the more we need them as faith grows weak and love grows cold. May God in His great mercy to His people give such servants to them now.

Notice what is was that Samuel pressed upon Israel.


Let the servants of the Lord do these things themselves, discarding every other purpose and motive and way as being utterly beneath those who are called to serve the Lord, and they will find that their labour is not in vain in the Lord.

This notable and comprehensive exhortation was based entirely upon God's faithfulness and love, and ministry of this sort is needed: Let us tell God's people what He is, more often than we tell them what they ought to be, for they will never be what they ought to be except as they are under the power of what He is.