1 Samuel 12:23
Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you…
God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you. - I bless God," said Mr. Flavel, the Puritan, on the death of his father, "for a religious and tender father, who often poured out his soul to God for me; and this stock of prayers I esteem the fairest inheritance on earth." And another eminent man said that he "set a greater worth upon the intercessions of the good than upon all the wealth of the Indies." The people of Israel esteemed the prayers of Samuel on their behalf in like manner. They had experience . of their amazing power and worth (1 Samuel 7:8, 9); they were in great need of them; they appear to have thought that he might cease to offer them on account of their past treatment of him, and they entreated him, saying, "Pray for thy servants," etc. (ver. 19). His reply was, "Moreover as for me," etc. Every true Christian, as "a priest unto God," an intercessor with God for his fellow men, ought to adopt this language as his own. It expresses -
I. AN ACKNOWLEDGED OBLIGATION, which -
1. Arises out of the fact that it is one of the principal means of doing good to others - obtaining invaluable blessings for them. Of the fact there can be no doubt (James 5:16). Why it should have been ordained as such a means we cannot fully tell; but it is plainly in accordance with the intimate relationship and mutual dependence of men; teaches them to feel a deeper interest in each other, and puts signal honour upon eminent piety. The principle of mediation pervades all things, human and Divine.
2. Is an essential part of the duty of love which we owe to others; the force of the obligation being determined by the nearness of their relationship, and the extent of their claims upon our love and service - our kindred and friends, our country, mankind.
3. Is often expressly enjoined in the word of God. "Pray one for another" (Luke 11:5; 1 Timothy 2:1). "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask (of God), and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death" (1 John 5:16).
4. Is inculcated by the example of the best men - Abraham, Moses, Job (Job 42:8, 10), Samuel and all the prophets; above all, by the example of our Lord himself, who has prayed for us all, and through whose intercession we present our prayers and hope for their acceptance.
II. A POSSIBLE OMISSION. Intercessory prayer may cease to be offered. It is sometimes omitted from -
1. Want of consideration of others; the worth of their souls, their lost condition, the love of God to them, the ransom that has been given for them. Attention is so absorbed in other objects that they are uncared for. The more we think of them, the more we shall feel and pray for them. "Love for souls as souls is not a passion of earthly growth. It is a holy fire from heaven. But bow can we have it; how can it be begotten in our hard hearts? The only true method is to draw near to them, and to look at them - to look on them in the light of reason and revelation, of immortality and of God" (C. Morris).
2. Deficiency of love and desire for their salvation.
4. Delay in the fulfilment of our requests, and apparent denial of them. But remember that sincere prayer is never offered in vain, and "pray without ceasing." God knows best when and how to answer our petitions.
III. A DEPRECATED SIN. "God forbid that I should" (far be it from me to) "sin against the Lord," etc. The sin of its omission is spoken of in direct relation to him, and consists in -
1. Disregarding his benevolent designs concerning others. "The Lord will not forsake his people," etc. (ver. 22) If he loves them and seeks their welfare, we should do the same.
2. Disobeying his declared will concerning ourselves. He has not only commanded us to intercede for others, but the very position in which he has placed us is a plain indication of his will. "Ye who remember Jehovah, leave yourselves no rest, and give him no rest," etc. (Isaiah 62:6, 7).
3. Burying in the earth the greatest talent that he has intrusted to us.
4. Grieving the Holy Spirit, who is ever inciting those in whom he dwells to "cry unto God day and night." "Quench not the Spirit. Whilst the devout should be urged by these considerations to "continue instant in prayer," others should remember that it is possible to place an improper reliance on the intercessions of the good, especially in expecting to obtain benefit from their prayers whilst they neglect to pray for themselves or walk in "the good and right way." - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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: