Fear the Lord and Obey His Commands

Today’s reading:  1 Samuel 12, Psalm 13

Samuel faithfully served God’s people as their spiritual leader for many years. Our text today covers the farewell address Samuel delivered as he prepared to pass the torch of leadership on to Saul.  Saul was the first earthly king to be appointed over God’s people.

Samuel’s opening remark (verse 1-2) reminds God’s people that appointing an earthly king to reign over them was their idea, not his. Why would he begin with this statement?  God knew an earthly king was not in the best interest of his people.  Nevertheless, he gave them what they wanted anyway.  Although it wasn’t the direction he would have chosen, Samuel also obeyed God and anointed Saul as their king.  Samuel continued to be their spiritual leader, offering guidance on how to keep their hearts right with God – fear the Lord and obey his commands.

If you fear the Lord and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the Lord your God—good!  But if you do not obey the Lord, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your ancestors (1 Samuel 12:14-15).

Have you ever read the Old Testament books of 1 and 2 Kings? If you have, you know God’s people did not heed Samuel’s counsel.  For almost 500 years, they were ruled by 42 different kings and one queen.  By my count, only 8 of these 43 rulers (>20%) followed the ways of the Lord.  The rest were anywhere from kind of bad to downright evil.  Ouch, those are some pretty severe consequences!

Can you think of a time in your life you’ve had a similar experience? A time when you asked God to give you something that wasn’t in your best interest, but he gave it to you anyway?  How did it turn out for you?  If you’re like me, you probably suffered through some consequences you wish you’d have avoided.  Perhaps you live with a little regret.  May I offer these word so of encouragement today?  Stop agonizing over your poor choices.  It isn’t too late to confess and get your heart right with God.  Fear the Lord, obey his commands, and he can bring good out of your poor choices.

Consider this – if God’s people had followed his ways throughout the Old Testament, would they have needed salvation through Jesus Christ? Aren’t you glad God had a plan to use their poor choices for good?  Aren’t you glad he still has a plan to use our poor choices for good?

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).