“Samuel said to the people, ‘Stand still that I may plead with you before the Lord concerning all the righteous deeds of the Lord that he performed for you and for your fathers.'” 1 Samuel 12:7
Samuel’s farewell address in 1 Samuel 12 is a cogent plea for Israel to look back, and look up. They had rejected their faithful God Who had delivered them from slavery in Egypt; they had forgotten Him. Samuel reminds them of all the people God had sent to lead them, to deliver them, to fight for them, but they had done great wickedness by insisting on having a king when the LORD their God was King. Finally, He had set a king (Saul) over them. “If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well. But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king. Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes.” He asks God, and He sends a warning sign of thunder and rain that day, “and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.”
Samuel does not keep harping on their sin, their willful pride and stubbornness, but outlines their history as a reminder to look up in the days ahead. The God Who named them and ruled perfectly would not fail them, but they needed to determine He be sole King of their hearts.
“Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet 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. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.”
When we are convicted of sin, or need to correct and guide those who go astray, it does no good to continually dwell on the wrongdoing. That can be a subconscious pride in thinking I can remedy myself, a slap in the face of the One Who vanquished the penalty of my sin, or an exasperation of those I lead. We must see it rightly in context of God’s “way of escape” and His forgiveness, then set out on the right path going forward, looking up to the One enthroned on high. (Ephesians 6:4; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 1 John 1:9; 2 Corinthians 5:17)
King of my heart, rule every part of me. Guard me from turning aside to empty things, to submitting to other sovereigns. I want to live wholly for Your name’s sake.