Integrity in Public Office
1 Samuel 12:3-5
Behold, here I am: witness against me before the LORD, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose donkey have I taken?…

Behold, here I am: witness against me before the Lord. It is a noble thing for a man in any position of life, but especially in exalted, public, and responsible office, to "do justly and love mercy" as well as to "walk humbly with his God;" to continue for many years in the fulfilment of his duty with strictest integrity and unselfish devotion to the public good. Of this Samuel was an illustrious pattern. Concerning integrity in public office, observe that -

I. It is generally, and not improperly, EXPECTED, because of -

1. The superior knowledge which one who fills such an office is assumed to possess (Ezra 7:25).

2. The important trust which is reposed in him. "Moreover, it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful" (1 Corinthians 4:2).

3. The powerful influence which he exerts over others, for good or evil (Proverbs 29:2).

II. It is beset by numerous TEMPTATIONS, such as -

1. To prefer his ease and pleasure to laborious and self-denying duty (Romans 12:8).

2. To use his power for the enrichment of himself and his family, to the disregard of the general welfare, and even by means of extortion, fraud, and oppression (Acts 16:22; Acts 24:26).

3. To seek the praise of men more than the praise of God, and to yield to the evil wishes of the multitude for the sake of personal advantage (John 19:13).

III. It lies open to public CRITICISM, for -

1. The conduct of a public man cannot be wholly hidden from view.

2. His responsible position invites men, and gives them a certain right, to judge concerning the course he pursues; and, in many instances, his actions directly affect their persons, property, or reputation.

3. As it is impossible to restrain their criticism, so it is, on the whole, beneficial that it should be exercised as a salutary restraint upon those "who are in authority." Happy is he in whom "none occasion nor fault can be found, forasmuch as he is faithful" (Daniel 6:4).

IV. It is NOT always duly APPRECIATED, but is sometimes despised and suspected.

1. The reasons of the conduct of one in public office are not always fully understood, nor the difficulties of his position properly considered, nor the motives of his actions rightly interpreted.

2. Evil doers, to whom he is "a terror," may be expected to hate and speak ill of him. "What evil have I done?" said Aristides, when told that he had everyone's good word.

3. Men are apt to be envious of those who are exalted above them, and to forget their past services if they do not favour the gratification of the present popular feeling. Samuel' was not the only judge who experienced ingratitude. "Neither showed they kindness to the house of Jerubbaal, namely, Gideon, according to all the goodness which he showed unto Israel" (Judges 8:35).

V. It sometimes requires to be openly VINDICATED, for the sake of -

1. Personal character and reputation. "I have not taken one ass from them, neither have I hurt one of them" (Numbers 16:5).

2. Truth, and righteousness, and the honour of God. How often, on this account, did the Apostle Paul vindicate himself, in his epistles, from the accusations that were made against him!

3. The welfare of the people themselves, on whom misrepresentation and unfounded suspicions exert an injurious influence.

VI. It is certain, sooner or later, to be fully RECOGNISED.

1. Time and circumstances bring real worth to the light.

2. There is in men a sense of truth and justice which constrains them to acknowledge and honour the good.

3. God takes care of the reputation of those who take care of his honour. There comes a "resurrection of reputations." The judgment of one generation concerning public men is often reversed by the next. "There is nothing hidden that shall not be made manifest." "And the righteous shall be had in everlasting remembrance." - D.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Behold, here I am: witness against me before the LORD, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it you.

WEB: Here I am. Witness against me before Yahweh, and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Of whose hand have I taken a ransom to blind my eyes therewith? I will restore it to you."

Ad Magistratum
Top of Page
Top of Page