Bible Reading: 1 Samuel 12.1-18

Today, we pick back up with 1 Samuel...

Then Samuel said to all Israel, "Behold, I have listened to your voice in all that you said to me and I have appointed a king over you.2Now, here is the king walking before you, but I am old and gray, and behold my sons are with you. And I have walked before you from my youth even to this day.3Here I am; bear witness against me before the Lord and His anointed. Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? I will restore it to you." They said, "You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man's hand." He said to them, "The Lord is witness against you, and His anointed is witness this day that you have found nothing in my hand." And they said, "He is witness." Then Samuel said to the people, "It is the Lord who appointed Moses and Aaron and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt. So now, take your stand, that I may plead with you before the Lord concerning all the righteous acts of the Lord which He did for you and your fathers. When Jacob went 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 settled them in this place. But they forgot the Lord their God, so He sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them. They cried out to the Lord and said, 'We have sinned because we have forsaken the Lord and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth; but now deliver us from the hands of our enemies, and we will serve You.' Then 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.  When you saw that Nahash the king of the sons of Ammon came against you, you said to me, 'No, but a king shall reign over us,' although the Lord your God was your king. Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen, whom you have asked for, and behold, the Lord has set a king over you. If you will fear the Lord and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the Lord, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God. If you will not listen to the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the command of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers. Even now, take your stand and see this great thing which the Lord will do before your eyes. Is it not the wheat harvest today? I will call to the Lord, that He may send thunder and rain. Then you will know and see that your wickedness is great which you have done in the sight of the Lord by asking for yourselves a king." 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. 1 Samuel 12.1-18

If we look back at much of the history we’ve learned, we see that history does not appear as a straight line series of events. Instead, history sometimes appears as a meandering pathway of events that causes a nation’s path to change direction. Some of these pivotal events are pretty well known: the rise of the Caesars of Rome, the signing of the Magna Carta. In the United States, we have the Declaration of Independence, and our Civil War. As Texans (many of us), we will not forget the Alamo, nor should any of us forget Pearl Harbor, or the events of September 11, 2001.

Events such as these can shape a culture, and change individual lives. Pivotal events change our attitudes and our perceptions. Not all such changes are for the good. In the above passage, we see a pivotal event in the history of the nation of Israel. In Samuel’s exhortation to the people of Israel, he calls for them to remember that he had selflessly served the Lord, as well as serving them. But for them, that was not good enough. They wanted a king, just like all the other nations had around them.

Prior to this point, Israel was governed directly by the Lord, in what we call a Theocracy. Every now and again, when the people would get way out of line, God would raise up a human judge to set things right, and to get the people back on course. Again, for the nation of Israel, that was not good enough. Rather than Theocracy, Israel wanted Monarchy. What we see here is a very important lesson. If a nation, or a people continue to push against the will of God, the Lord will eventually allow them to go their own way, and receive the consequences therein.

This concept works for individuals as well. In the first chapter of Romans, Paul teaches that those who continue to live a life of sin, and refuse repentance will eventually be turned over to their own devices. In short, God allows them to continue down the pathway to hell. That’s frightening! The sad truth is that we see folks like this all the time. We even see them in church. Sure! They come to services, and they might even throw $20 in the offering plate from time to time, but don’t  ask for any sort of sacrifice.

Some of you know who Jesus is, and even believe in Him. Allow me to tell you the truth: salvation comes from being a follower of Jesus, obeying His commands and serving Him with all your heart and all of you soul, and all of your mind and strength. Jesus must be our absolute Lord and Master, and our King. Think of it as our own individual theocracy, with God completely in charge, and us following willingly and lovingly. Some of you reading this may be at a pivotal point. So here’s my question: in your personal history, which pathway are you one? Are you following an earthly path, or are you following King Jesus?

Weekly Memory Verse: And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4.7