“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” – 1 Samuel 15:22 (ESV)
It is in this history lesson about Israel and their King that we find our promise. Given in today’s verse the promise is timeless in its application. King Saul, the first king of Israel in the time of Samuel the prophet/judge, also became the first king rejected by God for his disobedience to God’s command. The King heard and knew what God wanted of him – “Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.”(1 Samuel 15:18). But Saul saw and wanted some of the banned spoils from the battle. He helped himself and Samuel had to confront him. Trying, as we often do to rationalize our actions, Saul claimed with some excuse of how his disobedience was purposed to offer sacrifices to God. The lesson is clear and a promise from God of what he desires above all else – our obedience. God wants and even commands that we not just hear but listen and obey Him in all things. It is not easy and we need God’s help in order to do it. First we listen, then we do what is obedience. God is our sovereign and He blesses faithful obedience.
“Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.” – 1 Samuel 12:24 (ESV)
Ever tested the word ‘only’ in a sentence to see how different positioning makes for different emphasis? Here is an example: “Only fear the Lord…” might read, “Fear only the Lord…” or, “Fear the only Lord…” or, “Fear the Lord only…” Each arrangements represents a true instruction and each has a slightly different emphasis of why we are to “Only fear the Lord…” The people of Israel had just crowned their first King, Saul, the son of Kish. He was handsome, taller than all others and must have had a wining personality. Samuel the prophet and judge cautioned the people to remain faithful to their true King, the Lord God. It was going to be easy for the people to begin to view their king and admire him too highly. Saul easily let it all go to his head and went astray, disobeying God. Let’s remember what Samuel said to the people for God has done great thing for us also. He provides for us salvation, gives us wisdom, comforts us, guides us, and blesses us abundantly. Plus much more – He is worthy of our awesome praise and worship. Great things in our past, present and future.
“For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself” – 1 Samuel 12:22 (ESV)
What is in a name? Especially the name of God? Foremost it is the guarantee of an unbreakable promise. When God promised ancient Israel those with faith believed them and trusted in their fulfillment. Samuel was the last prophet/judge of God’s chosen people. The people demanded to have a king and God chose Samuel to anoint Saul to be Israel’s first king. Demanding a king, the people rejected God as their true King. As King Saul is crowned, the people are warned to not forget their God and to serve, obey and not rebel against His commandments. God’s promise that He will not forsake His people is renewed. He established the promise on His name, “for His great name’s sake.” God’s promises to us are also given to us in His name. That means the promises are unbreakable and even when we disobey, God keeps His promises. God promised to make Israel a people for Himself based on His name. His promises hold true no matter how far the people stray. We have the same promise. All faith believers are given promises of God for salvation, which include justification, sanctification, glorification. God will be with us forever.
“For the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the Lord has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.” – 1 Samuel 12:22 (NASB)
As we study the words and acts of God, we discover that He placed a great amount of importance on how we treat His Name. Everything God does is done for His great name’s sake. The name of God is above all names ever for His name has been from before time. Whatever we think, say, and do reflects how important God’s name is to us. In our verse today, the children of Israel after having had God as their ruler and King and administered by God’s appointed judges and prophets, we now jealous of the ways of the godless nations around them had Kings. They wanted a King too. They demanded Samuel appoint a King for them. Once they had their King, they quickly forgot how God had cared for them, even when they strayed into idolatress pagan worship. But God chose Israel and his decedents to be His people. God promised in an unbreakable covenant to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel) that He was their God and would care for them. Because of that promise it was for His Great Name that God keep His promises. God name is why He can’t break a promise.
“And Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the LORD; my horn is exalted in the LORD. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in your salvation.”” 1 Samuel 2:1 (ESV )
Hannah was a godly woman and one we learn from her faith and her life story. The verse we have today is the beginning of her song and prayer of thanksgiving after she had placed Samuel with the priests in the temple. Hanna says “I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives he is lent to the Lord.” This was an offering of her son to God’s service. It was also the plan of God for Samuel. Hannah had long prayed for a son and once God answered that prayer, she wanted to give him back. This prayer is one of the earliest poems in the Old Testament. It was well known in the days of Jesus. Mary, incorporated Hanna’s prayer into her own song of triumph, the Magnificat. God indeed hears our earnest prayers and answers them according to His will. For Hannah, who pleads with God and receives her request. It was the most natural thing for her to do. She received God’s promise of a positive answer to Her prayer. She rejoiced in the salvation God provided to her and gave back her gift. Let’s rejoice in His salvation today.