Thursday, July 8, 2010

1 Samuel 12-15: Samuel retires.

At some point, we grow old, we slow down, and someone else steps in to take the role we once played.  Yes, that could sound a little bitter or depressed, but I'm not bitter or depressed.  In fact, I love the way Samuel plays out this retirement party that also celebrates the new king.  

Samuel knows he is old.  He knows he won't be around forever.  He knows his own sons can't take his place, and so he did exactly what God told him to do and he anointed a king.  

And now he gives a speech.  

There are two ways to look at this speech.  The first is that Samuel is a little whiny:
"You asked for a king, and now you've got it.  Don't say I didn't warn you."

I don't take it that way. 
Here's how I look at it . . . 

Samuel is a servant.  He serves God.  He listens to him.  He serves people.  
This is who he is.  It doesn't matter how old he gets--he is still a servant.  
Part of this role is to direct people to God, to remind them to love him, honor him, obey him.

And so he takes this opportunity to do just that.  
It sounds prophetic.  And it sounds a bit harsh.  
But later on they can't say that God didn't warn them.  

First Samuel makes sure he has wronged no one.  (Major humility here.)
And next, he reminds them of Moses.  Of Aaron.  Of Egypt.  
He reminds them that forgetting who God is has consequences.  
He reminds them that rebellion has consequences.
He reminds them that they asked for a king.

And then he offers them a promise:  
IF you fear God and serve him and obey him and
IF you do not rebel and 
IF you and the king follow the Lord, then GOOD.

But IF you don't and IF you rebel against God's commands, then God's hand will be against you.
And then Samuel calls down thunder and rain.  
And then the people repent.  

They repent for having asked for a king.
They repent for their own sin and the sin of their forefathers.
And they ask for prayer.

And Samuel prays for them.
But I think he knows the people's hearts are fickle.  I think he knows they will rebel.
Because the last thing he says is: ". . . if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will be swept away."

How great God's love is for them.  
He chose them while they were sinners.
He corrects them and rescues them.
He delivers them again and again and again.  

And how great the Father's love is for us.  While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

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