Samuel believed that he had a duty to pray for the people. God had given him a responsibility for them, so of course Samuel would pray on their behalf. It would be sin (wrong behaviour against God) if Samuel neglected that duty.
Part of the reason why God gave that duty to Samuel was the weakness of the people. Many of the people were too weak to pray for themselves. Their relationship with God was so weak that they often wanted to serve false gods. They found it hard to trust God. They found it hard to obey him. Of course they should pray for themselves, but also they needed someone to pray for them.
Because their relationship with God was so weak, Samuel also had a duty to teach them. Samuel did not intend to teach lessons, as a teacher does. Instead, like Ezekiel (Ezekiel 33:1-9), Samuel would warn the people when they were doing wrong things. He would show them how to live in a manner that pleases God.
God cares about even the weakest of his people (Matthew 18:10-14). That is why he gives their leaders responsibility for them. He gives those leaders the duties to pray for them and to teach them. Jesus recognised that responsibility in John 17:6-12; Paul mentions it in 2 Corinthians 11:28-29. Moses knew that he needed Godís help to do these things (Numbers 11:10-14; Exodus 33:12-17).
Samuel made this promise on the occasion when he retired from his public work. Now that Israel had a king, the people did not still need Samuel to be their leader and judge. However, they still needed Samuel to pray for them. They still needed him to show them how they could serve God properly. So Samuel agreed that, for the rest of his life, he would continue to do those things.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.