In my personal quiet time, I’ve been reading through the Old Testament. When I reached 1 Samuel last week it was hard to turn a page without being overcome with conviction.
I’ve always known the story of David and Goliath and heard how inconsistent the Israelites were in their faithfulness toward God. But reading the account straight through and watching how God responded… it was pretty powerful.
In 1 Samuel 7, the Israelites were in the midst of consistent battles with the Philistines. The Lord had just forgiven the Israelites for worshiping foreign gods. They repented of their idolatry, so God prevented the Philistines from taking over Israel’s land.
Verses 5-9 of that chapter say:
“Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them…Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
“They have rejected Me.” Wow. How gracious is our God? Despite the hurt/anger caused from being rejected by His own people, His own creation, God tells Samuel to warn the Israelites of the consequences of their decision first.
Samuel warned the Israelites, and in verse 19 it says:
“But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”
The word that comes to my mind is defiance. God knew the truth; He is the truth. He knows all things. He sees all things and in Him all things hold together. And yet, when He warns His people, they have the audacity to look at Him, and say, “No!” … like somehow they knew better than God what they needed. How often are we guilty of this?
“there shall be a king over us, that we may also be like all the nations.”
So, that’s where their defiance came from? They wanted to be just like everyone else? The God of the universe was fighting the Israelites’ battles for them, and yet they wanted a flawed, human king instead. How often do we compare our lives to the people around us and think we’re missing out on something? How often do we look to the left or to the right and convince ourselves that we need someone/something besides the Lord to fight our battles for us?
The story continues. 1 Samuel 12:8 says:
“But they forgot the LORD their God. And He sold them into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab. And they fought against them. And they cried out to the LORD and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD our God.”
Along with their new king, the leader they thought they needed, came defeat. The Israelites quickly remembered that God was the One in command. God was the One fighting their battles for them… and they realized that what they’d wanted wasn’t at all what they needed.
Even after their huge mistake, the Israelites called out to the Lord for help, and He heard them and delivered them.
In verses 20-24, Samuel encouraged the Israelites and said to them:
“Do not be afraid; though you have done all this evil. Do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for Himself…Only fear the LORD and serve Him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things He has done for you.”
I don’t know where you find yourself reading this; Maybe you’ve recently asked God for a “king.” Maybe you’ve given into the lie that God alone was not enough for you.
It’s mind-blowing how easily we can “forget the LORD our God” and look for something or someone else to bring us victory. How often do we “turn to the right or left and pursue empty things”? Things like vanity, success, wealth, or human approval? It’s amazing how patient God is through those times and how He reveals His glory and power in our lives. And if we repent, He graciously forgives us.
“the LORD will not forsake His people…it pleased the LORD to make you a people for Himself.” It pleased Him to make us His own. That will never stop amazing me! When we ask for forgiveness, He hears us!
“Only fear the LORD and serve Him faithfully with all your heart.” – THIS is our call. That’s all we have to do. We don’t have to figure out every single detail or attempt to manipulate the crazy circumstances in our lives. All we have to do is fear and faithfully serve the Lord, and He will take care of the rest.
“For consider what great things He has done for you.” Tears come to my eyes as I reflect on that verse. Oh, what great things He has done for me! Our God is so faithful, despite our unfaithfulness. We all have different stories to tell, different accounts of what great things He has done…how He has redeemed us.
If you’re currently at war within yourself, believing that worldly things, such as beauty, fame, success, wealth or human approval, will grant you victory…remember these things are powerless! The LORD is your Deliverer. He is your Redeemer. He is your King.
“For the Lord your God is He who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’” ~ Deuteronomy 20:4
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will shape the desires of your heart.” ~ Psalm 37:4