TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. (1 Samuel 12:20-21 ESV)
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• In 1 Samuel 12, we find the prophet Samuel talking to the nation of Israel. They demanded a king in earlier chapters, and it was now time for the king to be installed. But the request wasn’t right.
The first time I read this, I didn’t understand the big deal. So what? The country wanted a king. They wanted leadership. But the issue wasn’t in the idea of a king, the issue was that in demanding a king, they said God wasn’t enough.
Israel already had a king and ruler—God. He is the Redeemer who had rescued them from oppression in Egypt, provided for them in the wilderness, and did countless miracles for them. All He asked for in return was obedience and loyalty. But the fickle human nature of mankind insisted. They wanted a flesh and blood ruler despite the warnings and protests of Samuel. So God decided to give them what they asked for—a king.
The 12th chapter of 1 Samuel largely recaps the things God did and confronts the nation with their sin. Despite the nation’s sinful choice, forgiveness is still on the table, along with a word of caution. 1 Samuel 12:20-21 says, “And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty” (ESV).
How often are we like the nation of Israel? What empty things do we seek in lieu of God Himself? As I thought about this, I realized I may not ask for a king, but I do tend to go to others for guidance before I turn to God.
For instance, if I want validation for how I feel or my opinion or how I should handle a situation— I have the perfect resource just a prayer away. This house probably has at least 12 Bibles in it, not to mention the six Bible apps I have on my phone. Access to my King is readily available and within reach. However, too often, I pick up the phone and call my friends before I pray about it.
When I turn to others before I turn to God, I dismiss the authority of God in favor of people who, as amazing as they are, aren’t the leader of my heart. God is. And He isn’t some distant, passive king. He’s alive and active and very eager to help guide and direct me. All I have to do is ask! Because God is enough!
Do you see yourself in this? I think we all do… we may claim that we go take it to the Lord in prayer first, but we often succumb to the temptation to seek others before we seek Jesus.
The words of Samuel still ring true for us. “Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.”
We may make the mistake of seeking another ruler, but we can get back on track. When we turn back to God, He is faithful. And unlike others, He will never fail us.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for being the King of kings and Lord of lords. Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you to turn to Him before you seek out others. Ask the King of your heart to guide you in all you say and do.
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