Samuel: A faithful and long life

Samuel: A faithful and long life

Samuel had a most unusual childhood. He was born as the result of God listening to the prayer of his mother, Hannah, who had been barren for many years. Samuel was given to God’s service and spent his life serving the priest Eli at Shiloh. He was faithful to God from a very young age and also grew in favour of the people of Israel who met him when they came to worship. Samuel grew up to be a rather unusual person; he was a prophet, a priest, and a king of sorts. He spoke God’s word to the people, acted as a priest before the Lord, and led the people in all kinds of ways. Samuel was the one who anointed the first king of Israel, Saul, and the greatest king of Israel, David. Samuel was unafraid to speak up against King Saul’s unfaithfulness and do difficult things when required for the service of his God[i].

Samuel was not a perfect man. Samuel appointed his sons to be judges over Israel, yet they misused their positions to take bribes and pervert justice[ii]. While Samuel cannot be held to be fully responsible for his adult sons’ actions, it does reflect poorly on his parenting and his wisdom in appointing them to positions they were not appropriate for.

I want us to note what Samuel said in his farewell address to the gathered people of God:

And Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have obeyed your voice in all that you have said to me and have made a king over you. 2 And now, behold, the king walks before you, and I am old and gray; and behold, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my youth until this day. 3 Here I am; testify against me before the LORD and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against m1 and I will restore it to you.”

 4 They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.”

 5 And he said to them, “The LORD is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they said, “He is witness.” (1 Samuel 12:1-5)

These are remarkable words. After a lifetime in a public leadership position, with everyone watching him while he exercised great responsibility, he remained morally pure. Samuel did not misuse his position for his own benefit, even though he would have had the opportunity to do so. None of the people could point to any improper conduct in Samuel’s life.

I pray that I would be viewed that way when I am older! Samuel would be an example for all future leaders; his leadership was peaceful and wise and respected. He remained faithful in his older age. Samuel is an example of what it looks like to follow God well all of your life.

The importance of the example of older believers cannot be overstated. Whether they realise it or not, young people need to see that a faithful life is possible. They need to know that someone can navigate the temptations of this world, the busyness of raising a family, and the challenges of leadership, and still remain faithful to God. The presence of faithful older Christians in a church is a great gift and a concrete example of the grace of God.


This is an excerpt from Distinctively Christian Retirement: A Biblical call to serve Jesus well in older age. You can find out more here. It is available as an ebook (Amazon, Kobo), a paperback (Book Depository, Koorong), and now also as an audiobook on Audible here (as well as other places where good audiobooks are sold).



[i] Samuel killed the king of the Amalekites by his own hand when Saul had not done what he was told to in 1 Samuel 15:32-33.

[ii] 1 Samuel 8:1-2.