After rejecting Jehovah as king in favor on an earthly one, He sends Samuel to anoint Saul to lead the people. Some time after this, Samuel, who had served as Israel’s judge, gave his farewell speech:
“You came to me and said that you wanted a king to reign over you, even though the Lord your God was already your king. All right, here is the king you have chosen. You asked for him, and the Lord has granted your request.
Now if you fear and worship the Lord and listen to His voice, and if you do not rebel against the Lord’s commands, then both you and your king will show that you recognize the Lord as your God. But if you rebel against the Lord’s commands and refuse to listen to Him, then His hand will be as heavy upon you as it was upon your ancestors.
Now stand here and see the great thing the Lord is about to do. You know that it does not rain at this time of the year during the wheat harvest. I will ask the Lord to send thunder and rain today. Then you will realize how wicked you have been in asking the Lord for a king!” (I Samuel 12:12b-17, NLT).
“How wicked you have been in asking the Lord for a king!” If the Israelites had any doubt about God’s displeasure in their request, it was about to be removed.
“Samuel called to the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day. And all the people were terrified of the Lord and of Samuel. ‘Pray to the Lord your God for us, or we will die!’ they all said to Samuel. ‘For now we have added to our sins by asking for a king’” (I Samuel 12:18-19).
Note two very interesting points in this passage: (1) the people begged Samuel, “Pray to the Lord your God…” Even in this time of terror, they didn’t acknowledge the Lord as their own. (2) They did, however, admit they realized they had already sinned against the Lord and had tacked on even more wrongdoing “by asking for a king.”
And here’s where we see overwhelming love in God’s response through Samuel: “‘Don’t be afraid,’ Samuel reassured them. ‘You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart, and don’t turn your back on him. Don’t go back to worshiping worthless idols that cannot help or rescue you – they are totally useless! The Lord will not abandon His people, because that would dishonor His Great Name. For it has pleased the Lord to make you His very own people” (I Samuel 12:20-22).
God forgives sin. Even great sin. As He told the people of Israel, “You have certainly done wrong, but make sure now that you worship the Lord with all your heart.” It’s one thing to admit having sinned; it’s quite another to repent. To repent simply means to turn – to turn from wrong and to the Lord. That’s all God wanted His people to do.
“The Lord will not abandon His people.” You may turn your back on God, but He isn’t going to leave you even then. Would you disown your child if he turned his back on you? Of course not! Then know that the Greatest Parent of All will never stop loving His wayward child.
Samuel then adds: “As for me, I will certainly not sin against the Lord by ending my prayers for you” (I Samuel 12:23a).
Not praying is sin? Yep. So don’t “sin against the Lord by ending” your prayers for the wayward. Don’t give up on anyone. Only God knows a person’s heart. Only God knows whether or not a person is His straying child or a lost soul. And either one needs prayer. Don’t we all?
Copyright © 2013
Judy Woodward Bates