In chapter 11, which I blogged about here, deliverance comes through the newly-crowned King Saul. After the victory, Samuel suggests that everyone head over to Gilgal to confirm Saul’s kingship. Chapter 12 records Samuel’s coronation address.
It’s not exactly what you would expect as a normal coronation address. But it’s a powerful message. So powerful, in fact, that I really don’t know if I can adequately comment on it.
Why don’t you just read it, and experience its power for yourself?
Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the LORD who raised up Moses and Aaron, and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt. Now therefore, stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous acts of the LORD which He did to you and your fathers:
When Jacob had gone into Egypt, and your fathers cried out to the LORD, then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. And when they forgot the LORD their God, He sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab; and they fought against them.
Then they cried out to the LORD, and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD and served the Baals and Ashtoreths; but now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You.’
And the LORD sent Jerubbaal, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side; and you dwelt in safety.
And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the LORD your God was your king.
Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired. And take note, the LORD has set a king over you. If you fear the LORD and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the LORD your God. However, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers.
Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the LORD will do before your eyes: Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the LORD, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking a king for yourselves.”
So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.
And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves.”
Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing.
For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people.
Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.
But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”
(1 Samuel 12:6-25)
Samuel points Israel back over the timeline – the amazing timeline – of their history. He reminds them of all the times that God has come to their rescue. Whenever they needed help, God came. He raised up the right people at the right time to deliver them.
So when trouble came knocking at their door again, Israel should have known what to do. They should have known that all they needed to do was to cry out to God, and He would raise up help.
But instead, they looked to themselves for solutions. They forgot that God was their all-protecting, all-knowing, all-loving King. And they decided they wanted a “real” king.
God allowed them to have their king, but Samuel wanted to make sure Israel understood who really was their Deliverer. And the message got through. They realized how foolish they had been in asking for a king, and asked for mercy.
The amazing thing is that Samuel responds with grace. Yes, they had messed up, but there was still hope. They didn’t need to weigh themselves down with guilt thinking about the mistakes of their past – instead they needed to focus on being obedient in the present. If they kept seeking to follow the LORD, they would do well. He promised that the LORD would not forsake them. He would always be faithful, even when they were faithless. And as for Samuel himself, he loved his people. He would keep praying for them, stubborn and foolhardy as they were. In fact, he felt that if he didn’t pray for them, he would be sinning against the LORD! So he would keep praying, and he would keep teaching them.
His message closed with an encouraging command, followed by a solemn warning, “Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king” (1 Sam. 12:24-25).
- Do we remember all that the LORD has done for us and turn to Him in trust when hard times hit – or are we too quick to forget His wondrous works and turn to other things in desperation?
- When we recognize our sins, do we allow ourselves to be loaded down with discouragement? Or do we seek forgiveness and then continue to press on toward the goal?
- Do we seek God and His ways with all our heart, living for the eternal, or do we turn aside and get distracted with empty things that won’t matter in the long run?
- Do we sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for our nation, for our friends and our families and our neighbors?
- Do we fear the LORD, serve Him in truth with all our heart, and consider what great things He has done for us?
- Or do we continue rebelliously in our sin?