Read 1 Samuel 12:14-23
Samuel has just finished getting a few things off his chest and in doing so he was able to restore his name, integrity, and reputation. He also took the opportunity to remind Israel that they asked for a man to replace their heavenly King and their desire was granted. They are getting exactly what they asked for.
Moving on from the past and now looking toward the future, Samuel continues, letting them know a man will lead the nation, but God will be in control. He begins to urge his people to serve the Lord, their first love. He just finished reminding everyone of their past, how sinful and sorrowful it was and how the Lord has forgiven them. In verse 14 Samuel pleads that it is a privilege to fear, serve, obey the Lord, and live according to his commandments. Following the Lord is not some duty that we are required to do. It is a privilege, it’s not something to take for granted and it certainly is not something that everyone can do. You get to serve the Lord, it is an honor to do that. You don’t have to obey the Lord, God does not make you do anything. He wants the best for you and He knows what that is, but His ways do not need to be your ways. Realizing this is good.
Samuel first addresses the citizens individually, because they are responsible for their own hearts. You can serve the Lord even if your government does not. Then he addresses the citizens and king together. No one is exempt from God’s rule, He and He alone makes the final decisions, and God alone appoints those he wants in leadership.
Verses 16-18. The Lord wants to drive into their hearts how offensive it was for them to reject Him. He wanted to remind them of his power and authority and he did that via a terrible thunderstorm. Now, thunderstorms aren’t particularly unusual, but this storm is a little different.
Scripture tells us it was the wheat harvest, which takes place between the middle of May through the middle of June. It was rare to have any rainstorms during this time. Add to this, Samuel specifically said that he was going to call on the Lord to send thunder and rain and that the people will realize what an evil thing they did in the eyes of the Lord when they asked for a king. Samuel gave the people fair warning and now they will get to experience the power of God and just how sinful it is to reject Him.
The Bible tells us that none of Samuel’s words fell to the ground and this is another great example of that. Later that day a huge thunderstorm blew in. All of the events of the day combined with Samuel’s words and now this storm has the people standing in awe. Awe as in, a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder. If they didn’t respect the Lord or Samuel before, they sure do now.
The Lord wanted to convince them that asking for a king was wicked. I think he did a great job of convincing them because they began to fear for their lives. They begged Samuel to pray to the Lord your God. Notice they said your God and not our God. It’s as though they were too ashamed or too afraid to call the Lord their God. When we hurt or offend someone we don’t always feel as though we can go to them directly to ask for help. It’s like that with the Lord, when we do wrong before the Lord we don’t always feel as though we have the right to then ask for his help. They didn’t feel as though they could ask for help, but they knew Samuel could.
They needed Samuel to intercede, stand in the gap for them, they realized they have done a horrible thing and that was added to all the other horrible things they’ve done. Their sins have piled up so much they fear they are about to die. Samuel tells them, “Don’t be afraid, yes, you have done all this evil”, why sugar coat it, right. “Despite all the evil, don’t turn away from the Lord”. “Even though you have sinned, don’t make it worse by also turning away from the Lord, just give Him all your heart”. The only way to make this better is by committing your whole heart to the Lord. Stop turning to those useless idols, haven’t you learned by now they can’t help you, they can’t rescue you because they are useless.
Besides, the Lord will not reject you. He is not going to reject you, you can always turn to Him. The Lord is happy to make you his people. You are His tribe, he wants to be with you, and because of that, he will not turn you away when you come to Him completely. Notice, Samuel says, “but, serve Him with all your heart.” That is one tall order and most people don’t realize what it means to serve Him with all your heart.
We’ve learned to carry the cross, but most of us haven’t learned how to climb up on the cross. We crawl our way to the base of the cross, clinging to it, staring up at it expecting miracles when the Lord requires us to climb onto it so that we can also die on that cross with him. Gal. 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” A few other scriptures you need to reference are Galatians 5:24; Romans 6:8.
My favorite verse in all of chapter 12 is verses 23-24 because it shows us exactly what it means to be crucified with Christ.