Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail
“But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.”
1 Samuel 12.24
When this passage is taken out of the events unfolding in this chapter, it seems like a great verse to remind us to be grateful for God’s blessings. While that application could certainly be made, here’s the context.
God’s desire for His people is rejected. Unlike the surrounding ancient cultures and nations, Israel had no king. Instead, they were to have men chosen by God to serve as their judge. The temptation to establish an earthly king became so great among the Israelites that they gave in and decided to oppose the Lord’s leadership strategy.
Samuel is in the final stretch of his life and guided by God’s direction, he allows the people to have what they wanted— but not what they needed.
Samuel replies to the people’s cry for a king and here’s our verse in context.
“You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own. As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.”
Samuel wasn’t merely encouraging the people to be grateful for what they have as it might seem on the surface. He was reminding them to not reject the King of Kings after their earthly king fails them. When we make poor decisions and are forced to pay the consequences, the worst possible move would be a move away from God. Taking ownership of the trouble we bring into our lives is vital to future faithfulness. Difficult lessons are, by definition, not a joyful experience. Things could always be worse, but things could always be better. At the end of the day it comes down to which king we decide to serve.
“My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke…”