Man, there is some good stuff in there. Everytime I read through a book in the OT I am refreshingly surprised at just how many things I've missed over the years. It's fun to find new topics, verses and stories.
Today I am challenged about the way I love people. And, after reading through chapter 12 - I'm convinced I have a lot of work to do. (sigh) You see... I wanna be like Samuel - and love people the way he did. Here's an example...
"Then Samuel said to the people, "Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people. Morever, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king." 1 Sam. 12:20-25
The Israelites were at it yet again. God has protected them and provided for them over and over, but in chapters 11 and 12 they are complaining to Samuel that they want a king to rule over them. Never mind the fact that the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob WAS their king... they were blinded to that, and wanted a king of their own, I guess a "tangible" king. Someone they could look at.
Samuel tried (in his God given wisdom) to explain to them they did not need or want a king over them... but, as we read so many times - these chosen people forgot their God and desired another. So, to tie up the lose ends of the story... God let Samuel know that his job was to find them a king. This was a sin for Israel and in vs. 19, after Sauls coronation we see them saying collectively, "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 the evil of asking a king for ourselves."
Trouble was brewing....God knew it, Samuel knew it... but rather then tearing them apart - talking down to them or condemning them, Samuel was an ENCOURAGER. He loved these people. He gave wise insight and advice on what they should do next. See vs. 20-25 again.
Samuel knew they were in trouble. And, if you read on in the very next chapter the new King Saul was at it already, making unlawful sacrificies and hiding in caves. But, the point is, despite all of that - though he could see the sin and stupidity...he still loved the people. He even made the statement, "Morever, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and right way." (vs. 23) He wasn't giving up on them any time soon. And, you know, I want to be like that with the people I love. I want to love the teens I minister to with this kind of love - "yes, you are doing something dumb, but I love you and will keep praying and teaching you the GOOD way." It's so easy to get disappointed with people, give up on them and walk away.
Today I'm challenged to love people the way Samuel did. Not without a few tough words here and there...those are important sometimes, but with the action of prayer, conviction and change.