Samuel’s ministry is drawing to a close. You can tell that he’s still pretty mad that the people asked for a king. I can appreciate that. No leader likes to pour out their life only to be ignored.
Imagine being Samuel. You literally grew up serving God because your mom dedicated you from birth. You knew God’s hand was on you. As just a boy God used you to confront the corruption in the priesthood around you. But you were steadfast. You held true to God even though everyone else strayed.
Then you led one of the greatest revivals in the history of Israel. You got people to tear down their idols and bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Shiloh. God even gave you victory over the more technologically advanced Philistines. There was peace in the land.
You are now in your golden years, feeling good about your legacy, and your people decide to ask for a king. Geez people…really? After all that Samuel and God had done to get them on the right track, they want a king to be like the other nations?
So, in this dramatic speech, Samuel compares the people to their forefathers who also rejected God and bore the consequences. Their lives became so miserable from their bad choice that they cried out to God. Samuel is implying that they will do the same thing. The only way things won’t go bad is if both the people AND the king serve God 100% of the time, and he knew that would never happen.
God Gives You a Do-Over
But the surprising thing in this speech is how his tone softens towards the end. He basically says, “You guys really screwed up. But what’s done is done. There’s no going back on this king idea. But if you serve God, I will still bless you.”
“Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own.
As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 1 Samuel 12:20,22-24
The good news here is that the same offer extends to you today as well. There is a good chance that you made some decisions that you regret. You can’t “unscramble the egg,” as they say. You can’t go back and undo your mistakes. And maybe you’ve wondered if God can still love you after a mistake with a permanent consequence. Since you can’t hit “rewind,” does that mean you are living in sin and God will never forgive you?
Samuel’s words imply that God will absorb your wrongdoing and give you a “do-over.” Don’t beat yourself up about the past. Learn from it to make sure you do a better job of serving God in the days ahead. Thank God every day for his grace to you. And offer that same kind of grace to others.
Prayer: Father, your grace is truly amazing. You continually bear with our turning away and invite us to begin again. Help me to start fresh with you today. Show me how to make amends for my past sin, but if there is nothing left to do, help me to move on without constantly living in regret. Help me to accept your forgiveness and live the new life you have for me. Amen.