1 Samuel 12:1-25
In this chapter we encounter the third great farewell speech in the Old Testament. The history of Israel and its shifts from era to era seem to be punctuated by these speeches. As the nation shifted from the era of the patriarchs and slavery into the era of conquest in the Promised Land, Moses stood up before them and proclaimed, “I set before you life and death…choose life!” After the dust settled from the conquest of the land and the nation was moving into a system of theocracy, God’s ideal form of government, Joshua stood up before the throngs and said, “Choose this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” Now, in today’s reading, after a radical societal shift from a theocracy to a monarchy, we see Samuel place before the people a choice of living and walking in the ways of God or persisting in evil. The former will lead to life and the latter will lead to death.
Do you see a common theme here? We need to read between the lines a bit when we listen to Samuel’s speech. Was Samuel happy about the people’s choice to have a King? No. Was God happy about it? No. It seems that Samuel is saying (allow me to paraphrase) “guys, listen. Now that you have a king you think everything will be fine. You’re wrong. Nothing has changed. From the beginning God has wanted one thing…your heart. He wants you to fear Him, to love Him, and to serve Him with all your heart. Nothing less. Had you done this from the beginning we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Yet, you haven’t and now here we stand with a king on our hands. Hear this. The rules haven’t changed. Now you just have two layers of responsibility to deal with. Not only do you have to follow God, but you also have to hope and pray that your king follows God as well. Because if he doesn’t…oh boy…are you in for a world of hurt. Bottom line…if everyone keeps their eyes and hearts on God, then this whole thing will work out great. If you or your king gets distracted by the nonsense that is going on around you, then it will be lights out for the whole party. Enough said.”
In our lives the same is true. We have all made really stupid choices and we are stuck with the consequences of those choices. We may have brain damage from taking drugs. We may be in prison because we killed someone. We may have blended families and hurting children because we got divorced. Were these things God’s perfect desire for us? No. Will God take these consequences away? No. Will the pain and ripple effect of these consequences cease? Probably not. Is all hope lost? No. God can and will work through the mess that we have created and bring something redemptive out of it. The only way that will happen, however, is if we get back to the simple game plan. We must fear the Lord, we must love Him with all our heart, and we must run away as fast as we can from the sin that brought about these consequences in the first place. We must surrender our heart to Jesus, every day. Then, God will come in and work with the “king” that you asked Him to place in your life.
He can work with faulty church systems (because 100% of church systems have some level of human corruption within them, be sure of that) and bring blessings through them in spite of the dysfunction. He can take an illegitimate child and use him to transform the world for His kingdom. He can take a damaged drug-addict and make her a shining beacon of God’s grace, forgiveness, and redemption.
Let’s never forget that changing the “what” of our lives without changing the “how” of our lives is not going to make the difference. Changing the “do” without changing the “be” is like rearranging the deck chairs on the sinking Titanic. What difference is it going to make?
Let’s pray for a heart that is surrendered to Jesus and let Him handle the rearranging of our life, our family, our church, and our society.