When Samuel tried to dissuade Israel from asking for a king, I Samuel 8:19 says: “Nevertheless, the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel, and they said, ‘No, but there shall be a king over us.’” Samuel had done his best to explain to them all of the drawbacks of having a king (:10-18) but the people would not listen. They were living out a sad situation that many of us have seen as well: when someone is dead set on an unwise course, there is often nothing you can do to talk them out of it.
Samuel had listed all the things a king would take from the people: their sons and daughters to be his servants, a tenth of their crops and herds, etc., but they didn’t listen. In the same way, we often try to point out to people the foolishness of a certain course of action, but many times they just plod on ahead anyway.
So: should we not even try to dissuade them? It is easy to grow weary of “talking to a wall” when people don’t listen to the wisdom you would share with them. Sometimes we are tempted not to bother. But if we care about them, then like Samuel we will still attempt to convince them of the truth. And even if they do not listen – which they may well not – at least our words will stand as a witness to them and to others of God’s wisdom and righteousness. Sharing the truth is our responsibility – even if, as in Samuel’s day, those we are speaking to refuse to listen.