Sunday, March 15, 2009

Stand Still and See the Power of God!

1 Sam. 12:14 If you will fear the LORD and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well. 15 But if you will 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 and your king. 16 Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the LORD will do before your eyes. 17 Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the LORD, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking for yourselves a king." 18 So Samuel called upon 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 this evil, to ask for ourselves a king." 20 And Samuel said to the people, "Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 22 For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself. 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. 24 Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully 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."

What a great story of the sinfulness of man, the power of God and His long-suffering toward His people.

The Israelites had asked for a king, when God was their King. They wanted to be like the rest of the nations on earth, who had a visible king. There is a problem when God's people want to be like the world. So God allowed them to have a king. They had been seeing what the world was doing and started to follow after idols and, each time, God punished them for their sin, as He listed for them in the previous verses.

But God, through Samuel, tells them that even with this new king, if they, and the king, follow God, God will bless them. BUT, they have to follow God. I like when Samuel tells them to "Stand still and see this great thing that the LORD will do before your eyes". He is saying, "I will prove to you that God means what He says", or "God is serious about sin and your love and devotion for Him".

Apparently it would have been very rare, maybe even unprecedented, to have thunder and rain at harvest, so this is what Samuel tells them will happen. He prays and as they are standing there God delivers. What power! We must not trifle with God.

The Israelites immediately understand their position and they also see the power of God, and that Samuel is also someone they want to have on their side. They want Samuel to continue to pray for them, because he obviously is a righteous man who has the ear of God when he prays.

Samuel encourages them that even though they have sinned greatly, and even though on top of that sin they have asked for a king when they shouldn't have, they are still God's people and God will not forsake His chosen ones. What a transition from seeing their sin and knowing the power of God, to being told that even with all of these things against them, God still loves them and He will not forsake them. It is so amazing that even though God knows our sin record and He knows we will sin again, He will not forsake those He loves and has chosen. What a long suffering Savior.

He does this for His name's sake, not because His people are so worthy. "He is pleased to make a people for Himself". What can any people bring to God that they would be worthy of His choosing? Why would He pick the Jews, the smallest of nations to be His people? If they were a large nation, they would be able to claim that they had done something great to remain over all these generations. But since they are weak and small, it is only God who can sustain them through all that has happened to them.

He does give them some guidelines in order that they be not "swept away". They are to fear the Lord, serve Him with ALL their heart and consider all that He has done for them.

He requires the same from us. As His chosen, small and frail, people; people who sin and follow after worthless things; people who want to be like the world; people who have sinned much even after seeing the power of God; if we are His children He will not forsake us, Heb. 13:5. BUT, we must fear Him, we must serve Him with all our hearts and we must remember and be thankful for all that He has done for us.

Most powerful God, full of glory, majestic in the Heavens, controller of lightning, thunder, wind and rain, lover of all that is good and right and hater of all that is evil, You have called a people unto Yourself to be set apart and different from this world. You have done this that You will be glorified through them. Not because we are so great, but because we are so weak and yet You sustain us.

May I follow You as I should, with all my heart. May You be glorified in the change that You have made in me. May the world know that it is You, and only You, that could bring about this type of change in someone like me. Make Your name great in Your people and may I not be a blemish or a dishonor to Your great name.

Lord I am thankful that You are long-suffering with me. I am not deserving, You are simply kind and merciful. I don't know why You don't just crush me, like You did in the OT, but I am thankful that You have endured with me in order that I would turn from following empty things and turn to the One who is the Fullness of everything good. I am not deserving of this grace and mercy, or I would then have room to boast. You alone are worthy of all of my praise.

Carry me to Your heights that I may dwell in Your house forever, for in Your presence there is fullness of joy. Until I am there with You, continue to mold me and shape me after Your will and give me the affections You desire in each of Your children.

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