Fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart
1 Samuel 12:12 -13 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
When you saw that Nahash the king of the sons of Ammon came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ although the Lord your God was your king. 13 Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen, whom you have asked for, and behold, the Lord has set a king over you. 14 If you will fear the Lord and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the Lord, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God. 15 If you will not listen to the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the command of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers. 16 Even now, take your stand and see this great thing which the Lord will do before your eyes. 17 Is it not the wheat harvest today? I will call to the Lord, that He may send thunder and rain. Then you will know and see that your wickedness is great which you have done in the sight of the Lord by asking for yourselves a king.” 18 So Samuel called to the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.
19 Then all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, so that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil by asking for ourselves a king.” 20 Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 You must not turn aside, for then you would go after futile things which can not profit or deliver, because they are futile. 22 For the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the Lord has been pleased to make you a people for Himself. 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you; but I will instruct you in the good and right way. 24 Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.25 But if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away.”
13 Saul was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty two years over Israel.
2 Now Saul chose for himself 3,000 men of Israel, of which 2,000 were with Saul in Michmash and in the hill country of Bethel, while 1,000 were with Jonathan at Gibeah of Benjamin. But he sent away the rest of the people, each to his tent.3 Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout the land, saying, “Let the Hebrews hear.” 4 All Israel heard [l]the news that Saul had smitten the garrison of the Philistines, and also that Israel had become odious to the Philistines. The people were then summoned to Saul at Gilgal.
5 Now the Philistines assembled to fight with Israel, 30,000 chariots and 6,000 horsemen, and people like the sand which is on the seashore in abundance; and they came up and camped in Michmash, east of Beth-aven. 6 When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait (for the people were hard-pressed), then the people hid themselves in caves, in thickets, in cliffs, in cellars, and in pits. 7 Also some of the Hebrews crossed the Jordan into the land of Gad and Gilead. But as for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.
8 Now he waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him. 9 So Saul said, “Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. 10 As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him. 11 But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, 12 therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.” 13 Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
15 Then Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men.16 Now Saul and his son Jonathan and the people who were present with them were staying in Geba of Benjamin while the Philistines camped at Michmash.17 And the raiders came from the camp of the Philistines in three [r]companies: one company turned [t]toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual, 18 and another company turned toward Beth-horon, and another company turned toward the border which overlooks the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.
19 Now no blacksmith could be found in all the land of Israel, for the Philistines said, “Otherwise the Hebrews will make swords or spears.” 20 So all Israel went down to the Philistines, each to sharpen his plowshare, his mattock, his axe, and his hoe. 21 The charge was two-thirds of a shekel for the plowshares, the mattocks, the forks, and the axes, and to fix the hoes. 22 So it came about on the day of battle that neither sword nor spear was found in the hands of any of the people who were with Saul and Jonathan, but they were found with Saul and his son Jonathan. 23 And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the pass of Michmash.
Daniel 2:20-22 says: “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever,
For wisdom and power belong to Him. It is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men And knowledge to men of understanding. It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.” In today’s text we see that Saul was chosen, raised up and anointed by God as king over Israel. Although it was contrary to and against God’s best plan for Israel, God chose Saul because the peole asked for a king. He was not chosen because he would fail, in order that the people would be punished. Yet, as an imperfect man, Saul did indeed fail. The text says: As for Saul, he was still in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. Now he waited seven days, according to the appointed time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring to me the burnt offering and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him and to greet him. But Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “Because I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the appointed days, and that the Philistines were assembling at Michmash, therefore I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not asked the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself and offered the burnt offering.” Samuel said to Saul, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure. The Lord has sought out for Himself a man after His own heart, and the Lord has appointed him as ruler over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” The Lord indeed raised up Saul, but because of his disobedience, He also removed him. The nation of Israel was defeated and left in turmoil. It may seem unfair that Saul was condemned for trying to do the right thing. There are times though that what seems good to man, is contrary to what God says. God didn’t raise Saul up because he would fail, rather Saul failed because he stepped outside of the authority God gave him.
We too need to realize that our government has been given authority from God. He has allowed them to be raised up and He can take them and our nation down. As with Saul, our government’s mandate, its authority is to protect its people from enemies, to fight for and defend the people. We do not elect spiritual leaders to our government, but rather those who will stand for us. It is important though that we have leaders who will honor and obey God; who will, along with protecting us from enemies, allow us to continue to follow God. In today’s text, when the people realized that having a king was a mistake, Samuel said: “Fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away.” It is one thing for a leader to do too much, to overstep their authority in spiritual things, but it is another thing all together when our government begins to inhibit our ability to follow and serve the Lord. We don’t elect a Lord. God is Lord of all and Lord for all time. Jesus was the King of Kings from the beginning of time and will be forever. It is impossible for us to elect government officials who are perfect. There is only one who was without sin or flaw. When we elect government officials then we should remember what their mandate is; to protect and defend; to represent the people and do what is best for them. Any person though who will inhibit our ability and right to follow and serve God, should never receive a single vote from those who understand the importance and value of freedom and the true mandate of government.
In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God says: If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. It is not the government’s responsibility to pray to God, and turn the country from evil. It is the responsibility of those who are called by His name. Still, I would rather have a flawed government official who prays and honors God, one who encourages believers to pray, than ones who set themselves to be in the place of God and prohibit the acknowledgment of the One true and eternal God. We need government officials who will defend us by allowing us to follow and serve God, and if the time comes when the government no longer allows us to follow God, we must follow Him anyway.
Heavenly Father, may we recognize that all authority is Your’s and Christ’s. May we recognize that those in authority on earth are under Your authority; that You raise them up and You remove them. Because we have freedom in this country to choose those who will be in authority, may we choose wisely. May we seek those who will protect and defend us and our rights, especially our right to follow and serve You. May we who are called by Your name, humble ourselves, and pray, and seek Your face, and turn from our wicked ways; then may You hear from heaven, and forgive our sin, and heal our land. May we always serve the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords; Jesus Christ. May we truly be One Nation Under God. Amen.