Then Samuel died; and all Israel gathered together and mourned for him, and buried him at his house in Ramah. And David arose and went down to the wilderness of Paran.
1 Samuel 25:1
I find it curious that this is the first book of Samuel, but Samuel dies with another 6 chapters left in this installment and before the second installment even kicks off. It makes me wonder who the actual writer of the book is. But that is not the point this morning.
I wanted to pause and remark the passing of Samuel as the Israelites did. Samuel was the last of the judges and the first prophet to anoint a king over Israel. His life was marked by firsts and by intercession for the Israelites and their kings.
Despite his righteousness, his children did not choose to walk the same way. In a real way, he lived out the example that the best and most righteous people can raise children as best they can and those children will make their own choices about how to live. It is the kind of reality and truth that drives parents to their knees regularly.
Samuel’s passing was mourned by all Israel. This, I think, is the measure of a leader. The Israelites demanded that Samuel give them a king (God noted to Samuel that this was a rejection of God’s Kingship over them, not a rejection of Samuel’s leadership), but every last Israelite turned out to mourn him at his passing. I cannot think of the last leader or cultural icon that so unified my nation that every last one of us paused for a moment in whatever we were doing to mourn that person’s passing. Ronald Reagan’s passing is the closest I can think of in my memory.
I also note that David leaves Samuel’s house after the prophet dies as if the protection afforded is also gone. It seems that God will sometimes remove people from our lives in order to make us step further into our faith. David will go to increasingly dangerous places to stay away from Saul until he gets news of Saul’s death.
This leaves me with two challenges. First, let me live a life that will cause all who know me to mourn my passing. Second, let me not rely on any human leader for a sense of safety or guidance, but let me lean entirely on God, as Samuel did.
Thank You, Father, that You are far more than enough to lead me through anything and to keep me safe in Your hands no matter what. Please enable me to rise to the dual challenges I see in this morning’s verse: to live righteously and to rely entirely on You. In doing the second, I will accomplish the first.