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Learning "The Hard Way"

isn't wise.

1 Samuel 12:14–18 (ESV)

“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. Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the LORD, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking for yourselves a king.” So Samuel called upon the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.

Now Samuel gets to the point—having a king doesn’t actually make any difference. If you (and the king) will follow the LORD your God, it will be well. If not, then it won’t be well. That’s the same as it was before when they didn’t have a king.

This highlights their stupidity in asking for a king, but it also highlights God’s grace. They wanted a human king instead of the LORD as their king. They got the human king but didn’t lose their relationship with the LORD.

Then Samuel displays the LORD’s power by calling for a thunderstorm. He points out that it’s the time of the wheat harvest. That’s because the wheat harvest in Israel is in the dry season; they don’t get thunderstorms then.

This is not punishment. The thunderstorm isn’t destructive. Neither is it helpful.

It’s just surprising.

Not all wake-up calls from the LORD are punishments. Yes, painful consequences are great for getting someone’s attention, but that isn’t the only way.

And pain doesn’t always work anyway. It all depends on where one falls on the foolishness spectrum.

Rebuke is more effective for a wise man
Than a hundred blows on a fool.
— Proverbs 17:10 (NKJV)

Christians should always “keep their radar on.” God will get our attention, one way or the other, when He wants it. Whether that involves pain is up to us.

Wise folks respond to rebukes and learn from them. That’s how they got wise in the first place. Fools are stuck in their foolishness because they won’t learn.

But most wise of all are those that learn, not just from their own mistakes and rebukes, but from watching others.

Learning things “the hard way” is not the best way to learn.

These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Weekend DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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