The Signs of the Times


February 2, 1882

The Sons of Samuel


Samuel continued to judge Israel all the days of his life. For many years he made an annual circuit to Mizpeh, Gilgal, and Ramah, for the administration of justice; at other times performing the duties of his office at his home in Ramah. With unremitting zeal and devotion he labored for the welfare of his people, and the nation prospered under his wise control. But with advancing years it became necessary to share with others the burden of judicial care. Hence while he continued to judge the people at Ramah, he appointed his sons to act for him at Bethel and Beersheba. ST February 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 1

These young men had received faithful instructions from their father, both by precept and example. They were not ignorant of the warnings given to Eli, and the divine judgments visited upon him and his house. They were apparently men of sterling virtue and integrity, as well as of intellectual promise. It was with the full assent of the people that Samuel shared with his sons the responsibilities of office. But the characters of these young men were yet to be tested. Separated from their father's influence, it would be seen whether they were true to the principles which he had taught them. The result showed that Samuel had been painfully deceived in his sons. Like many young men of today who have been blessed with good abilities, they perverted their God-given powers. The honor bestowed upon them rendered them proud and self-sufficient. They did not make the glory of God their aim, nor did they seek earnestly to him for strength and wisdom. Yielding to the power of temptation, they became avaricious, selfish, and unjust. God's word declares that “they walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment.” ST February 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 2

In all this they were disregarding the will of their Divine Sovereign. The Lord had through Moses given special directions to his people that the rulers of Israel should judge righteously, deal justly with the widow and fatherless, and receive no bribes. It were well for the nations of the earth today, if these instructions were obeyed by the rulers and judges of the people. How important that all who are entrusted with the responsibility of government should be men who fear God, and labor unselfishly for the welfare of the human brotherhood. It is their work to judge with equity, maintaining the right of the stranger, relieving the oppressed, spurning every bribe to clear the guilty or punish the innocent. The well-being of society calls for men of moral integrity in legislative halls and courts of justice. Our churches are in need of those to minister in holy office who shall be men of honor, of piety, of purity; who shall be sanctified by the Spirit and by the word. ST February 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 3

A corrupting power stands in prominent places. How often are we painfully startled at the announcement that men of talent, men in positions of usefulness and honor, have betrayed their trust, and appropriated to themselves the public money, or worse still, the treasured pittance of the widow and fatherless. Had these men made the word of God their guide, they would not thus have fallen. That word contains plain, definite instruction, adapted to every possible complication of social and public interests. Every plan and purpose of life should be subjected to this unerring test. The word of inspiration is the wisdom of God applied to human affairs. However advantageous a certain course may appear to finite judgment, if denounced by that word it will be only evil in its results. ST February 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 4

It may be a difficult matter for men in high positions to pursue the path of undeviating integrity whether they shall receive praise or censure. Yet this is the only safe course. All the rewards which they might gain by selling their honor would be only as the breath from polluted lips, as dross to be consumed in the fire. Those who have moral courage to stand in opposition to the vices and errors of their fellow-men—it may be of those whom the world honor—will receive hatred, insult, and abusive falsehood. They may be thrust down from their high position, because they would not be bought or sold, because they could not be induced by bribes or threats to stain their hands with iniquity. Everything on earth may seem to conspire against them; but God has set his seal upon his own work. They may be regarded by their fellow-men as weak, unmanly, unfit to hold office; but how differently does the Most High regard them. Those who despise them are the really ignorant. While the storms of calumny and reviling may pursue the man of integrity through life, and beat upon his grave, God has the “well done” prepared for him. Folly and iniquity will at best yield only a life of unrest and discontent, and at its close a thorny dying pillow. And how many, as they view their course of action and its results, are led to end with their own hands their disgraceful career. And beyond all this waits the Judgment, and the final, irrevocable doom, Depart! ST February 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 5

Samuel had labored earnestly to correct the erroneous customs introduced by the sons of Eli, and especially to counteract the spirit of greed and selfishness fostered by their course. The sons of the prophet should have employed their authority to carry forward the reforms instituted by their father. Instead of this, their own example greatly hindered the work of reform. Their promotion to office was the cause of their ruin. The love of gain controlled them. Bribes perverted their judgment, and smothered their protests against sin. How many, like these judges of Israel, enter upon their work with good purposes, but failing to make God's word their guide, they are flattered by worldlings, weakened by prosperity, until their moral power as reformers is gone, their hands nerveless to set things in order. ST February 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 6

The Son of God has set an example for all his followers. They are not to court the praise of men, not to seek for themselves ease or wealth, but to emulate his life of purity and self-denial at whatever cost. While preserving the meekness of Christ, they are to wage war with iniquity, and to push the triumphs of the cross. Selfishness will not dwell in the Christian's heart. He will not manifest a disregard for the rights of others. God's law commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves, to suffer no evil to be instituted against him which we can hinder. But the rule which Christ has given extends still further. Said the world's Redeemer, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” Nothing short of this can reach the standard of Christianity. ST February 2, 1882, Art. A, par. 7