Wednesday after the Fourth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Samuel 12:1-25 (NKJV)
1 Now Samuel said to all Israel: “Indeed I have heeded your voice in all that you said to me, and have made a king over you. 2 And now here is the king, walking before you; and I am old and grayheaded, and look, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my childhood to this day. 3 Here I am. Witness against me before the LORD and before His anointed: Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I received any bribe with which to blind my eyes? I will restore it to you.”
4 And they said, “You have not cheated us or oppressed us, nor have you taken anything from any man’s hand.”
5 Then he said to them, “The LORD is witness against you, and His anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.”
And they answered, “He is witness.”
6 Then Samuel said to the people, “It is the LORD who raised up Moses and Aaron, and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt. 7 Now therefore, stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous acts of the LORD which He did to you and your fathers: 8 When Jacob had gone into Egypt, and your fathers cried out to the LORD, then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. 9 And when they forgot the LORD their God, He sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab; and they fought against them. 10 Then they cried out to the LORD, and said,’We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD and served the Baals and Ashtoreths; but now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You.’ 11 And the LORD sent Jerubbaal, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side; and you dwelt in safety. 12 And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me,’No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the LORD your God was your king.
13 “Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired. And take note, the LORD has set a king over you. 14 If you fear the LORD and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the LORD your God. 15 However, if you do 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, as it was against your fathers.
16 “Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the LORD will do before your eyes: 17 Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the LORD, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking a king for yourselves.”
18 So Samuel called to the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.
19 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.”
20 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. 21 And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. 22 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. 23 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. 24 Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”
“The Lord God was your King.” How great the indictment in those words! God Himself was your King, O Israel, but you wanted another! You wanted to be like everyone else, but every time you’ve acted like everyone else, you suffered: when you followed other gods, the Lord delivered you into the hand of your enemies. Now He has given you what you wanted: a dynasty like the other nations. Yet, remember that it is He who has brought this to pass, and the king’s place and the nation’s fortunes rest on the same thing as always: whether you and he are trusting in the Lord with all your heart. “If you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”
Samuel first bade the people to bring any charge against him that they could, and they all declared that he was innocent of any attempt to fleece God’s flock. Then he makes this declaration to them from the Lord. They wanted a king who would be like them and went after what they wanted, not a prophet who kept telling them that what they wanted—and were doing—was going after vanity and turning their back on God. Now, Samuel makes it clear, God was giving them both! Having a king does not eliminate having God’s prophet; having a king who rules by his speaking does not end God’s ruling over all by His. At best, a king would do God’s will and the nation would be blessed; but, if not, God would bless them by bringing their plans and desires to naught, so that they might repent.
O Triune God, keep us from the idolatry of trusting in princes, rather than having faith in Your will and works alone! Amen.