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1 Samuel 12:19–25

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” (v. 20).

The truth has finally come home to the Israelites. Their eyes have been opened by the Word of God and His mighty power, and they can see their sin at last. They know the awful truth—they stand deserving of judgment. In their despair, they cry 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.’ ”

Now the stern prophet shows himself a tender pastor. ” ‘Do not fear,’ ” Samuel says. Moments ago he was urging the people to fear God (v. 14). Now they are in fear, but it is fear not of God (reverence) but of His judgment. They still need a theology lesson. So Samuel tells them not to dread that God will cut them off. Yes, they have sinned grievously and God is truly wrathful against their wickedness. But the answer is not for the people to cower away from God. They must go to Him in repentance, turning from their sinful ways and recommitting themselves to His service. Besides, where else can they go? All other gods are ‘ “empty things,’ ” things that will not benefit them or save them. But if they will turn back to God, Samuel assures the people, God will not refuse them, for He will not forsake His covenant by which He made them His people. To do so would bring reproach on His name, for He would be called unfaithful, and that He will not allow. Matthew Henry writes, “Every transgression in the covenant, though it displease the Lord, yet does not throw us out of covenant, and therefore God’s just rebukes must not drive us from our hope in His mercy.”

Not only will God be faithful to His people, so will His prophet. Samuel declares that he will continue to minister to them in two ways—by interceding for them as a priest and by teaching them ” ‘the good and the right way’ ” as a prophet. He, too, will be faithful. The bottom line, Samuel says, is for the people to fear God (reverence Him) and to serve Him wholeheartedly in truth (that is, as He directs). This is the proper response of a people so blessed by God. In New Testament terms, he is calling the people to make their calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). They need to show their faithfulness by being faithful, for persistence in wickedness will indicate a lack of true faith, and they will be swept away, along with their new king.

Coram Deo Living before the face of God

When Jesus asked whether His disciples planned to leave Him, Peter said: ” ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’ ” (John 6:68). When we sin, where can we go except to God? There is no life apart from Him. Thankfully, He never turns away a repentant believer. If you need to repent for some sin, go to Him now.

For Further Study
  • Job 42:6
  • Isa. 55:7
  • Jer. 3:12
  • Acts 2:38; 17:30

Stand and See

Covenant Life

Keep Reading The Power of Preaching

From the March 2003 Issue
Mar 2003 Issue