The Changing of the Guard
1 Samuel 12:20-25 (20) And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; (21) And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. (22) For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people. (23) 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: (24) Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you. (25) But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king. Israel had done foolishly in thinking that they needed a king like the other nations to "...judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles" (1SAM 8:20). Samuel had shortly prior to that gone out before Israel to lead them into battle victoriously, not with a sword but with a burnt offering and effectual fervent prayer (1SAM 7:8-12). There is more might and security in the ministry of devout men of God who plead with the Lord to arise and scatter His enemies than in kings and armies. It was said of the faithful prophets Elijah and Elisha, "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof" (2KI 2:12 c/w 2KI 13:14). This weak old prophet Samuel had just "...called unto the LORD; and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day..." (1SAM 12:18). Would Israel's new king be able to match that kind of power? Did Saul have an arm like God? Could Saul "...thunder with a voice like him" (JOB 40:9). Myriads of angels surround the godly and faithful in times of great distress, as Elisha's servant was once allowed to see (2KI 6:13-18). It took only one such ministering spirit (HEB 1:14) to wipe out 185,000 belligerent Assyrians in one night (2KI 19:35). Now if the effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man stirs up God to send forth such, what king can outdo that? Israel's error was that they looked to government instead of God for security and success, not greatly unlike modern churches which apply to government for incorporated status to get the tax-deductible donations that finance their misguided spiritual warfares. But Samuel here proved himself to be a good minister unto the church of God. He upbraided them for their ill-conceived choice, as a good minister should "...reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine" (2TI 4:2). He warned them of the dire consequences of disobedience and so delivered his own soul from bloodguiltiness (EZE 3:18-19); he was "pure from the blood of all men" (ACT 20:26). Most significantly, even though they had been less than faithful to him, Samuel resolved to be faithful to God in prayer for them. He prayed without ceasing for them that despitefully used him (MAT 5:44) even as the Lord Jesus (LUK 23:34) and as Paul who prayed without ceasing for the church (1TH 1:3; 1TH 2:4; 1TH 2:10; EPH 1:16), even praying for problem churches (1CO 1:4). Happy is the minister who, when trouble befalls him, such dedication reciprocates, and prayer is "...made without ceasing of the church unto God for him" (ACT 12:5).