Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes! Is it not wheat harvest now? I will call on the LORD to send thunder and rain. And you will realise what an evil thing you did in the eyes of the LORD when you asked for a king.
1 Samuel 12:16-17 (NIV)
Read: 1 Samuel 12:1-25
Consider: There was no denying that Samuel was getting old and the time was drawing near for him to hand over the reins of responsibility to another. However, his two sons, Joel and Abijah, were corrupt; seeking dishonest gain, accepting bribes and perverting justice (1 Samuel 8:1-3). The elders of Israel came to Samuel at Ramah and said: ‘You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have’ (1 Samuel 8:5). Notice that their reasoning was that Samuel’s sons did not follow his example and would, therefore, not be capable of leading them faithfully. Secondly, they wanted a king to rule over them, because all the nations around them had kings.
Samuel took the matter to God and we read in 1 Samuel 8:6-7 – But when they said, ‘Give us a king to lead us,’ this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: ‘Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.
In today’s passage from 1 Samuel 12, we read that Samuel confronted the Israelites and related part of their history to demonstrate God’s faithfulness to them and their ancestors. By doing so, he demonstrated the kind of God they had rejected in favour of an earthly king. Notice in 1 Samuel 12:16-18 that unseasonal thunder and rain was used by God in the hope that the Israelites would: ‘… realise what an evil thing you did in the eyes of the LORD when you asked for a king’. The people seemed to have responded correctly as they said to Samuel: Pray to the LORD your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking for a king’ (12:19). It is telling that the Israelites said ‘… the LORD your God …’ and not ‘… the LORD our God …’. Their faith should have been personal and not based upon an indirect relationship through Samuel.
So how did things turn out for the Israelites and their first king? You only have to read about the reign of Saul to discover how fickle the Israelites were and how Saul wavered in his dedication to God. Also reading through the books 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles you will discover the character of each king that came after Saul.
Samuel says something very profound in 1 Samuel 12:22 – For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own. Can you see that despite the Israelites going through cycles of dedication to God and then forgetting him, this clearly demonstrates God’s infinite patience towards his chosen people and their kings.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).
Pray: Father, keep us from those things that could potentially pull us away from you. We thank you for your great patience with mankind. We ask that your Spirit would be working in the hearts of those who are wavering in their faith, drawing them back to you. Amen