Written by: Matt Northway
In reading 1 Samuel 12, we see Samuel give his final public address. He recognizes that it is time to hand the reins over to Saul, as the Israelites were following him anyways, after the recent victory against the Ammonites. Samuel, knowing and having said it is a sin that the Israelites desire a king greater than the LORD to rule over them, encourages the Israelites to remember what the good the LORD has done in their lives. I love the continual pattern in the Bible of remembering the good He has done, examining our lives, repenting, and living for Him to give Him glory, honor, and praise. This is still a pattern for us to follow as we are sanctified through the work of the Holy Spirit; to remember where the Lord has brought us from, being dead in our sin (Eph. 2) to being made alive in Christ Jesus, to acknowledge and examine if our lives are in step with the Spirit, to repent, and to live for Him.
We see a descriptive passage here of God’s character in 1 Samuel 12. What do I mean by that? When we read God’s Word, it is a good practice to ask ourselves if what we are reading is a descriptive passage, or a prescriptive passage. Descriptive meaning a description of God’s character, the metanarrative of the Bible (being Christ), or even just a part of the storydescribing what is happening that which is building to the main point. Prescriptive meaning something for us to take and apply in the way which we live, something for us to do, an instruction. Know that the Bible is not written to you, but it is written foryou.
In Samuel 12, we see a description here of God’s faithfulness and His care for the way which we live. We see here, and in previous chapters, that God is in anguish about the Israelites sin, He is frustrated. He desires them to live a life under His rule, obeying Him, just as He desires for us. Yet even with the Israelites wrongdoing, the Lord cares so much about them that He promises to never abandon them despite their great fear of Him after they recognize the evil they have committed (v. 19-22). Notice how there is a need for the people to recognize their sinfulness and repent before God leaves them with encouragement and a greater charge. God brings us close to Him by first addressing our wrongdoing through conviction by the Holy Spirit, then He builds us up to continue down the straight and narrow path, living a life for Him.
We read that God will not abandon the Israelites in order forGod to receive His glory because He is determined and because He loves them. This same description of God’s character is all throughout the Bible. In Haggai, God addresses the wrongdoing of His people VERY strongly, but He encourages the Israelites with His words that He is “with them” (Haggai 1:13). He encourages them to not be afraid, but to obey and know that His presence is what should drive them froward. God addresses that there needs to be a change in behavior, a change in theiridolization, but to remember the love, rest, and comfort the Father has to offer when we serve Him with our all. God is offering a better way to live when we turn to Him. Not always an easier way, but a better way that has contentment and eternal significance.
In both 1 Samuel 12 and in Haggai 1, we see Samuel and Haggaiencouraging and reminding the Israelites of this non-deserting characteristic of God when we repent and live a life for Him. To not “be afraid. Even though you have committed all this evil” (1 Samuel 12:20) and to know that “I am with you” (Haggai 1:13).We should take these passages as God describing His loving and caring character, but we should also take them to prescribe in our own lives a live of examination and repentance, knowing that when we turn towards Him, that He will not reject us. That He is faithful and will be with us when we repent and continue down the narrow path. There is still strong disciplinary action of the sin, but an even greater promise addressed (Read Haggai 1 to see God describing His great concern for when we live a life focused on us and not Him).
In verses 24-25 in 1 Samuel, I am reminded of Matthew 7, where Jesus speaks of the foolish builder who built on the sand, just as Britton spoke on this past Wednesday. I love the wording in 1 Samuel; how if we continue in our sinful ways we are “swept away” just like the house built on sand in Matthew 7. If we continue in our tireless efforts in pursuit of comfort and pleasure, then the end result brings wreckage and emptiness (Haggai 1:5-7). It brings no contentment and no greater purpose than that which we chase after. It brings no saving.
When we have trials come, when we doubt, when we are lost, when we are broken and tired of our pointless investments to build our own man-centered gospel or life... we are not buildingon the rock, but rather we are “swept away” (1 Samuel 12:25). When we do not have Jesus as our focal point, we crumble. Therock to build our life upon is Jesus. It is not in our works. It is not our emotions on how good we feel. It is not what we think will bring us comfort and joy such as a relationship, pornography, money, or going out to The Rose or Chucks. We must apply the teachings of Jesus and live a life centered on repentance and the grace of the One who saves.
Notice again the very end of 1 Samuel 12. “But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king" (v. 25). A storm is coming. Life is coming. Will we continue in our foolish building? Will we be swept away from our continuous efforts to save ourselves, our house of straw and mud on a hill of sand? Or will we repent, turn, and live for Him, building your house...your life...on the Rock. It is the righteous anger of the Lord that should cause us to stop and turn from our ways, but it is the love and contentment He offers that which should drive us forward.