Living God, my soul thirsts for you. Thank you for your Holy Spirit who has created this expectant spirit within me.
Read 1 Samuel 12:16–25
16 “Now then, stand still and see this great thing the Lord is about to do before your eyes! 17 Is it not wheat harvest now? I will call on the Lord to send thunder and rain. And you will realize what an evil thing you did in the eyes of the Lord when you asked for a king.”
18 Then Samuel called on the Lord, and that same day the Lord sent thunder and rain. So all the people stood in awe of the Lord and of Samuel.
19 The people all said to Samuel, “Pray to the Lord your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.”
20 “Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. 22 For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own. 23 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. 24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
What does it mean to be wholehearted about something? Talk to God about your sincerity in following Jesus.
Yesterday, where I live, in the space of a few hours, we had sleet, snow, rain, sunshine, strong winds and a hail shower! The British are used to sudden weather changes and they (or, at least, the meteorologists) understand the reasons for them. For ancient Israel, the sudden thunderstorm during the wheat harvest was very unusual and would have been very scary. Superstition, perhaps, but it certainly made them listen to Samuel. We’ve already seen the tension regarding the rightness or otherwise of their desire for a king.1 The thunderstorm convicted them of their sin in this respect, but Samuel reassured them that God hadn’t abandoned them; they only needed to return to him, wholeheartedly. They were in a covenant relationship with God. His name was at stake (v 22), so he would continue with his side of that agreement. The people needed to fulfill theirs: wholehearted obedience.
It’s a constant refrain in Scripture. Sin is not the end, but it’s important to repent and live differently, in obedience to God’s commands.2 Israel would have the encouragement of Samuel’s prayers, as well as his ongoing instruction in the good and right way (v 23). If you are a church leader, the place of prayer for your people is tremendously important, as much as your sermons. Do you set aside regular times to intercede for your flock? For individuals? For leaders among them?
For their part, the people needed to serve the Lord faithfully and wholeheartedly, while remembering all he had done for them (v 24). Remembering is an essential element of our discipleship too. Regular communion services help, but that doesn’t remove the onus on all of us to consciously bring to mind what it cost Jesus to keep us in relationship with God and to determine to live in obedience to him daily.
Think back to a time when perhaps you had reason to take these words seriously and thank God for holding on to you.
Lord, so often I am amazed at what you do for me. I thank you that I always have a majority because you are on my side.
1 See note on 1 Sam 8 2 See 1 John 1:9
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