1 Samuel 12:24
Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he has done for you.
Only fear the Lord, etc. Samuel assured the people that (as a priest) he would continue to pray for them, and (as a prophet) to show them the way of happiness and righteousness (Acts 7:4). Of this way the text may be taken as a further explanation, and gives -
I. ITS DESCRIPTION.
1. Filial reverence. Fear not (be not terrified - vers. 17, 18, 20); but fear (with a lowly, affectionate, trustful reverence.), implying a knowledge of his character and saving purposes, in so far as he has revealed them to men; in our case, of him who is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life."
2. Practical obedience. "And serve him." Recognise yourselves as servants, his servants, and act accordingly. "Fear God, and keep his commandments" (the practical expression of the principle): "for this is the whole of man" (Ecclesiastes 12:13). The two may not be disjoined (Joshua 24:14; Psalm 2:11). "The life of service is work; the work of a Christian is obedience to the law of God" (Hall).
3. Thorough sincerity and whole heartedness. "In truth, with all your heart." Do not suppose that it is sufficient to render an outward and formal service; or a partial service, in which the love of idols may be united with the love of God. "Serve him only" (1 Samuel 7:3). "God will put up with many things in the human heart; but there is one thing he will not put up with in it - a second place. He who offers God a second place offers him no place; and he who makes religion his first object makes it his whole object" (Ruskin).
II. ITS NECESSITY. "Only." You must walk in it, whatever else you do; for it is only by doing so that you can -
1. Avoid walking in the evil and wrong way. The "vision of life" which the great Teacher saw and described contained only two ways, the broad and the narrow, and there is no other.
2. Escape the destructive consequences of that way. You have already entered on a perilous course, only (in order that you may escape the end to which it naturally conducts), "fear the Lord," etc. "If ye still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both you and your king" (ver. 25). "The way of transgressors is hard." "it leadeth to destruction."
3. Receive, and continue to receive, the blessings that have been promised. "The Lord will not forsake his people," only (in order that you may enjoy his favour), "fear," etc. "I will pray for you, and teach you," only (in order that you may be really benefited thereby), "fear," etc. (Jeremiah 6:16; Isaiah 1:19).
III. ITS INCENTIVE. "For consider how great things he hath done for you." The motive here is not fear of punishment, nor hope of reward, nor even the sense of right, but gratitude and love.
1. What benefits; so great, so numerous, so long continued - temporal and spiritual (vers. 6-11).
2. Toward you, in comparison with others (ver. 22).
3. He hath wrought. He, and no other; freely and graciously. "Free love is that which has never been deserved, which has never been desired, and which never can be requited." "We have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love" (1 John 4:17). But in order that his love may be perceived and its influence felt, in awakening love, we must consider, fix attention upon it, especially as manifested in "his unspeakable gift" (1 John 4:10). Our responsibility in regard to "salvation" depends directly on the power we possess of directing attention to Divine truth, and considering it with a real and earnest desire to know it, and live according to it; and by this means, as ice is melted by the sunbeams, so the heart is softened, renewed, and sanctified by the Spirit of truth. "O that they would consider!" - D.
Parallel VersesKJV: Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.