And Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in all that ye said unto me, and have made a king over you.
1 Samuel 12:20
It is the special and most perilous curse of sin that it obscures, or blots out altogether, or terribly distorts the vision of God in our hearts; it gradually reduces us to that most desolate of all conditions "having no hope and without God in the world."
I. Those who need friends most are those who have fallen most and are in the most sore condition; but if even man despises, and finds no forgiveness for our faults, is there any hope that He in whose sight the very heavens are not clean—that He will pity us, and take us to His breast, and suffer us to live in the glory of His presence? Will He, who is the Friend of the innocent, be a Friend of the guilty too?
II. God loathes our sins, but knowing that we are but dust, He loves our souls. He sent His Son to seek and save the lost. When that blessed Son had taken our nature upon Him, He lived with the aged and the withered, the homeless and the diseased, with the palsied and the demoniac, with the ignorant and the blind.
III. Each new day is to you a new chance. Return to God and use it rightly, letting the time past of your life suffice you to have walked in the hard ways of sin and shame. The mistakes, the follies, the sins, the calamities, of the past may, if you use them rightly, be the pitying angels to guide you through the future. If you put off the present time for repentance, the convenient season may never come. As yet the door stands open before you; very soon it will be too late, and the door be shut.
F. W. Farrar, The Fall of Man, p. 364.
Notice four things:—
I. We have sinned some sins which we cannot repair. God, in His great love, takes us still as we are; takes us back to His bosom; only asks one thing: that at least we will go on in simplicity and sincerity now.
II. Though the temporal punishment may remain, it yet may be no sign that the sin is unforgiven. It is a difficulty in our way raised by ourselves. God takes us back though we are fallen. Let us serve Him still, though the vigour of the old days is gone.
III. This punishment is a sign, a sure sign, of destruction following unforgiven sin. If God so punish those whom He receives as repentant, what will befall us if we repent not? Surely nothing else than that "we shall be consumed."
IV. What an argument with us ought His longsuffering to be! What peace is in the thought of forgiveness so large, so full, so free, as God has promised! Not friends, nor repose, nor confession, nor resolution avails anything without the very presence of God; but each of these things in Him may work us weal, and He in them can bring us absolution and perfect peace.
Archbishop Benson, Boy Life: Sundays in Wellington College, p. 227.
References: 1 Samuel 12:20.—J. Keble, Sermons for the Christian Year: Sundays after Trinity, Part I., p. 105; E. H. Plumptre, King's College Sermons, p. 60.
1 Samuel 12:23Notice: (1) Some of the reasons for intercessory prayer, and (2) some of its encouragements.
I. Why is intercessory prayer a great thing? (1) St. Paul lays it down as a positive command, and makes it the primary obligation of every Christian. (2) We are never walking so exactly and so closely in the footsteps of Jesus Christ as when we are praying for any one. (3) We never more effectually benefit ourselves than when we pray for others. (4) We nave no talent of greater usefulness than the talent of intercessory prayer. Every other channel of good is circumscribed, and illness and absence take their place. But this has no limit. Wherever we are, under whatever circumstances, we can do it; and in doing it, we can reach those otherwise perfectly inaccessible to us—the guiltiest and the farthest off from God.
II. The encouragements to intercessory prayer are also four. (1) The first lies in the character of God, that all we bring in are dear to Him, that "He willeth not that any should perish, but that all should be saved," and that it must be a thing very dear to God when one of His children brings another of His children and lays that child at their common Father's feet. (2) The second great encouragement is in the fact that there is never a commandment in which there is not rolled up a promise. We have seen that it is commanded, "Pray for one another;" we safely argue that it would never have been commanded if it were not in God's mind to grant the thing which we are told to ask. (3) Thirdly, the general promise of prayer is exceedingly large. Whatsoever is of faith is sure. The success of that prayer is covenanted. "Whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer believing, ye shall receive." (4) Fourthly, almost all our Lord's miracles were done in answer to intercessory prayer. There is no positive promise to intercessory prayer, but, short of the actual undertaking of God, there is everything to give hope and all but certainty when we ask for any one of those things which we know are after the mind of God to give to His children, and which Christ has purchased with His own blood.
J. Vaughan, Fifty Sermons, 9th series, p. 333.
References: 1 Samuel 12:23.—J. Harrison, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiv., p. 49; Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxvi., No. 1537; J. Keble, Sermons, Academical and Occasional, p. 127. 1 Samuel 12:23-25.—G. B. Ryley, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xiii., p. 253. 1Sam 12—Parker, vol. vi., p. 315. 1 Samuel 13:1.—Homiletic Magazine, vol. viii., p. 164. 1 Samuel 13:3.—J. M. Neale, Sermons for the Church Year, vol. i., p. 269. 1 Samuel 13:7.—Parker, vol. vii., p. 67.
And now, behold, the king walketh before you: and I am old and grayheaded; and, behold, my sons are with you: and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day.
Behold, here I am: witness against me before the LORD, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it you.
And they said, Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man's hand.
And he said unto them, The LORD is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that ye have not found ought in my hand. And they answered, He is witness.
And Samuel said unto the people, It is the LORD that advanced Moses and Aaron, and that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt.
Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD of all the righteous acts of the LORD, which he did to you and to your fathers.
When Jacob was come into Egypt, and your fathers cried unto the LORD, then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, which brought forth your fathers out of Egypt, and made them dwell in this place.
And when they forgat the LORD their God, he sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them.
And they cried unto the LORD, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD, and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve thee.
And the LORD sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelled safe.
And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king.
Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the LORD hath set a king over you.
If ye will fear the LORD, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the LORD your God:
But if ye will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall the hand of the LORD be against you, as it was against your fathers.
Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the LORD will do before your eyes.
Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call unto the LORD, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which ye have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king.
So Samuel called unto the LORD; and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.
And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.
And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart;
And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain.
For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.
Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:
Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.
But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king.