1 Samuel 12:19–25
And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves.”
Then Samuel said to the people, “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”
A thunderstorm in the dry season does the trick. The people are so surprised (even intimidated) by all the light and noise that they jump into full repentance mode.
But, as always, the problem is that this will be temporary. The people are “feeling” repentant right now, having just been subjected to the crack of some thunderbolts, but tomorrow will bring complacency.
So Samuel tries to make it all stick by explaining, for the zillionth time, how this all works.
It’s a stark blending of grace and justice. Samuel’s opening sentence has both, beginning with grace but then abruptly shifting to blunt truth. “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.”
His next sentence is all truth. “And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing.”
But the next is all grace. “For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you His people.”
Finally, Samuel ends with the harshest justice line yet. “But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”
This contrast is the essence of the gospel.
Grace is confusing. In the geopolitical arena, grace is often perceived as weakness. A suspicious eye is cast upon every action. Thus, people search for a hidden agenda behind forgiveness.
But there’s an exception—total surrender. America’s grace towards Japan after WWII was not seen as weak. It couldn’t be; there were no challenges to our will.
So it is with the gospel. God’s absolute power over everything let’s grace run free.
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:
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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.