Learning the Way that is Good and Right

20 “Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. 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. 23 As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. 24 But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.”

1 Samuel 12:20-25

Every great Old Testament leader gave an exit sermon before he left–Moses, Joseph, Jacob, David, and in those verses I shared above, Samuel. Israel’s wise judge graces us with a warning, a lesson, and a bit of hope. A gift of love for the Israelites as well as those who read this today.

He ends with the warning, “If you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.” But what if Samuel had written President rather than king? The caution quickly becomes a beacon for people in the twenty-first century. We want to blame the government or congress for our country’s trials; however, throughout history God has given nations leaders that reflect or punish the attitude of the majority. If we want a better country, we need to demonstrate the love of Jesus so more want to follow Him. Christians can’t dabble in the evil of the world if we want to be the change our world needs.

The bulk of Samuel’s sermon includes a lesson for the nation. Idols were a big problem in Samuel’s time. People liked worshipping something they could see, so when the foreigners living among them offered the people of God a tangible deity, they followed right along. Not to mention, the variety of gods seemed quite palatable. Choosing a god of the day based on their needs seemed easier than one God who expected them to serve Him alone. Since so few of us have statues that we bow down to, this part of Samuel’s message can come across as irrelevant. But, the enemy has become sneakier over the millennia. He knows we caught on to the fact those idols were merely man-made carvings. So he put other stumbling blocks in our path. He showed us how to worship our children and our jobs. When televisions entered homes, he hated their potential for positivity and encouraged us to set them up as the pivotal piece in our decor. The boxes became background noise allowing him to subliminally stir up our emotions and influence our beliefs. Humans worship celebrities, cars, games, teams, houses, boats, books, money, and more. Anything we would refuse to give up if God asked has become an idol. Samuel warns against allowing them in. The prophet reminds us all of these things are useless. He calls us to serve God instead, to fear Him, and to daily look around at everything the Creator has done for us.

Finally, the hope Samuel offered Israel applies to us today. Even though “you’ve done all this evil” . . . Sometimes it’s easy to get hung up on the sins we’ve committed. The enemy loves to remind us about every mistake as often as possible. Samuel tells us the same message Jesus conveyed. Even though we’ve done evil, we should still serve the Lord. Our Savior will not give up on us. He knew Israel would turn to idols, yet He kept calling them. He knows we’ll turn our back on Him from time to time, still, for the sake of His name, He will never turn His back on us.

And more good news! If you’ve ever given a godly leader a chance to know you, he or she is praying for you. You can’t imagine the names God lays on my heart. He brings to mind many who’ve crossed my path and then decided to follow other gods. And each time I hear the name, I say a prayer. Plus, I, like many other leaders, pray for people I don’t know. I ask God to bless those who will cross my path and come into my church. Like Samuel, leaders can’t help but pray for the people God has chosen.

God loves you as if you were His only child. Let’s make sure we’re serving Him and loving Him because He’s the One and Only God.

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About the author

Lynne feels blessed to know Jesus Christ. He's her Savior and her friend, and because of Christ her life is richer. So her passion has become to help others discover their full potential in Jesus so they can have the best life possible!

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