Ten Minute Sermons
1 Samuel 12:19-24
The continued sin of Mankind must be so disappointing to God. We have seen the same scenario played out time and time again: prideful humankind trusts their own reasoning, fails to submit to the Lord's direction, and subsequently finds themselves in…well…deep Kim-Chee.
It is no different in today's first lesson. The Children of Israel have demanded the prophet Samuel anoint a king to rule over the nation, despite the very Word of God warning them of such an appointment, and now they are living to regret their petition.
What we are going to do tonight is break apart this passage in order to see what the context was for the Hebrew people at the time of its writing…and just as importantly, we will put the pieces back together again to examine how this text speaks into our lives today in the 21st century.
Now, this being Ascension Sunday, it is only proper that throughout this study we keep an eye out for the ascended Jesus, who sits in power at the right hand of God. Pay attention and see if you can spot Him.
Where we are in Hebrew history is very easy to understand. Earlier in this Chapter from the 1st Book of Samuel, the prophet outlines an account of the Children of Israel for the past several hundred years.
There was Moses and Aaron. A captive people cried out to the Lord and verse 8, "then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron who brought your fathers out of Egypt and settled them in this place".
But, the people fell into idolatrous behavior so the Lord, verse 9…"sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the army of Hazor": The Philistines threatened to subjugate and assimilate the Hebrew people.
But then there were the heroic judges of Israel. The nation of Israel, beset by their enemies, cried out to God, and verse 11, "the LORD sent Jerubbaal and Bedan and Jephthah and Samuel, and delivered you from the hands of your enemies all around, so that you lived in security."
Did you catch that? When beset by enemies, Israel cried out to God, and it was the Lord that delivered them: The Lord sent Moses and Aaron…the Lord sent Jerubball, Bedan, Jephthah and Samuel. Even when they had been waywardly idolatrous, reliance on the Almighty resulted in deliverance by God.
And yet, when the Ammonites threaten Israel with annihilation, the Children of Abraham don't cry out to God for direct intervention. They ask God's prophet to appoint a king: a king to fight their battles and to rule over them. Well, two problems with that: firstly, until that time the Almighty Himself was king over Israel…fighting her fights, judging her people, and secondly, a human king brings to his rule human frailties. God warned them through Samuel that a human king would draft their sons and enslave their daughters…a human king would take "the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves" and give them to his royal toadies…above that a human king would tax both income and human capital…in essence all in the nation would "become his servants". But, no….they wanted to be like the other nations…they still wanted an earthly king. Well…sometimes you get what you ask for, even if it offends your benefactor.
And here, in today's lesson, the people finally realize how they have offended the Almighty. After a fairly good Old Testament "thunder and lightening" display in verses 17&18 (destroying the wheat harvest)…the people acquiesce, they cry to Samuel "pray to the Lord your God for your servants, so that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of demanding a king for ourselves". There is nothing like a little devastation to call attention to one's offense against God.
Samuel admonishes them not to turn against God. He tells them to "fear the Lord, and serve him faithfully with all your heart": A wonderful ending to a potentially devastating story. Well, no. The end of the assigned lesson for today ends on this upbeat note: "Only fear the Lord, and serve him faithfully with all your heart; for consider what great things he has done for you". But, the chapter continues, "But if you continue to do evil, both you and your king will be swept away".
And guess what happens in the history of Israel…they continue to do evil. The kings (with a few exceptions)…the kings themselves set up idolatrous cults worshiping the Gods of the neighboring peoples. With few exceptions, the people abandon the Lord. And within two generations the nation of Israel begins a death spiral that eventually results in its captivity: God and the people part ways…there is no nation over which a king can reign. The kingdom of Israel is no more. It's sad, due to idolatrous, self-centeredness the Kingdom of Israel is no more.
But, the Kingdom of God thrives. In the Kingdom of God individuals, verse 20, "serve the Lord with all their hearts"…they …verse 21…"set aside useless things that cannot save". For you see, as it says in verse 22, "For the Lord will not cast away his people".
The Kingdom is intact: and the sovereign is…well, the sovereign of the Kingdom of God has not changed.
Think of the five efficacious ministries of Jesus Christ. He was God incarnate. He taught us about the nature of the relationship between God and man…he taught us about the kingdom of God. He died on the cross for our sins. He rose from the gave so we might have life…and He ascended into heaven to reign as Sovereign Lord in the Kingdom of God.
And His Kingship? He doesn't take your fields, your vineyards and your olive groves…he provides you with abundance. He doesn't oppressively enslave you and your children; rather He shares His love with you, as with a brother or a sister. The Kingdom of God is radically different than any kingdom of man.
Our own corrupted nature necessarily yields corrupt kingship. But Christ's incorruptible nature is perfectly congruent with our Creator's intention for headship of the human race. Jesus reigns from the Throne of Grace, there the embodiment of His people, there judging humankind, there stamping death, the great enemy, under His feet.
For those of you who choose so, God Himself, in the person of His Son, can be your King. All you…all we need to do is …verse 24, "Only fear the Lord, and serve him faithfully with all your heart"…consider the great things he has done for you.