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1 Samuel 11-12: Renewed Committment to the King Print E-mail
1 Samuel
Sunday, 14 May 2017

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When I was growing up in church, the idea of rededication to the Lord was very popular. After big youth events, all the teens would swarm the altars for rededication. During revivals, those not coming for salvation would be coming to rededicate themselves. It was a common occurrence in the services that I grew up attending. Unfortunately, it became kind of trendy among evangelicals. And it was true in my own life as well. I remember being stirred at the youth events and revivals. I remember feeling distant from the Lord. I remember wanting more than what I was experiencing in my relationship with God. And so I rededicated myself to following after Jesus. Looking back, I see some real problems with my experiences of rededication (the high frequency perhaps being the biggest), but I also understand the value in a renewed commitment to the Lord..

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Israel renewed their commitment to God on several occasions in the Scriptures. After they worshipped the golden calf, they renewed their commitment to God. After the land was secured in Joshua, the covenant was renewed. Even earlier in the book of 1 Samuel, the people return to the Lord and pledge their faithfulness to Him (chapter 7). Going forward in the future of Israel, there will be other times of renewal as well, especially after the exile (see Ezra and Nehemiah). These are all corporate renewals in the history of Israel. Another is recorded in our passage this morning. In order to understand its significance and what it can teach us about renewal, I want to break our passage into three events: the victory, the renewal, and the speech.

The Victory (11:1-11)

Not everyone is excited about Saul being chosen as king. Look at 10:27. They were not convinced that Saul could actually save them from their enemies. Yet, he quickly gets a chance to prove them wrong. Chapter 11 begins with an attack on Israel. Look at verses 1-4. This is a bad situation. The Ammonites are looking to cripple and disgrace Israel by taking captive one of her cities east of the Jordan. The question is critical: Who will save us? They send to Gibeah for help. Saul hears what is going on in verse 5. Look at that with me. This is a defining moment for the new king. How will he respond to this threat? Look at verse 6. As the Spirit did with Samson when he was a judge, so the Spirit empowers Saul in this situation. The new king summons the people of Israel to fight against the Ammonites with a threat and the dread of the Lord brings them to Saul as one man.

So how does it play out? Saul sends word to the men of Jabesh that he has come to help them. And the next day they attack. Look at verse 11. It was a complete victory for the new king. His first battle is a successful one. He was able to save Israel from their enemies. Of course, we must be clear about how he was able to have this victory? It was not through his own power or strength, but through the Spirit of the Lord. Davis comments: “Salvation came not because Israel had a king but because the king had Yahweh’s Spirit; it is not the institution of kingship but the power of the Spirit that brings deliverance” (Davis, p. 119). The Lord gave the new king victory.

The Renewal (11:12-15)

In light of this victory, the people want to renew their commitment to the king. First, they want to deal with those men who were doubting Saul. Look at verse 12. That is one way to secure support for the new king. But Saul intervenes. Look at verse 13. This is one of the better moments for the first king of Israel. He does not put the men who did not support him to death and he does not take credit for the victory. Saul recognizes the work of God: for today the Lord has worked salvation in Israel. Then Samuel has an idea. Look at verses 14-15. Samuel suggests that the renew the kingdom and the people agree. What is interesting about this renewal is whether or not it refers to the kingdom of Saul or the kingdom of God. To which king are the people renewing their commitment: Saul or God? Of course, it is perhaps best to see it as a renewal of commitment to both. God has given them a king who can lead them in battle and give them victory over their enemies. They will recognize him as king over all of Israel. And God is the One who will give the king such victories and be the ultimate leader of His people.

The Speech (12:1-25)

Samuel decides to address the people on this joyous occasion. And his speech serves several purposes. It is his last speech as judge over Israel. They asked for a king and Saul is now that king. Samuel will now serve them as prophet (and priest). As a prophet, we also see a clear exhortation and warning in Samuel’s speech. He knows that such renewal can be shallow and temporary. Thus, he gives them instructions and hope for their future faith in the Lord. Let’s briefly consider the four sections of the speech.

First, Samuel notes that he has ruled the people well in verses 1-5. He has not oppressed them or stolen from them or used his power in an evil manner. Samuel has been a faithful judge and the people are held as witnesses to that fact.

Second, Samuel remembers the Lord’s mercy in the past in verses 6-11. As often happens in renewal passages, Samuel recounts how faithful the Lord has been to Israel. God saved the people from the Egyptians through Moses and Aaron. And when the people sinned and turned to idols, the Lord eventually showed them mercy by raising up the judges to free them from their oppressors. As we see in the book of Judges, God did this over and over with the people of Israel. They would forget Him and turn to idols. They He would hand them over to their enemies. Then they would cry out for help. And then He would raise up a Deliverer. This was the Lord’s repeated pattern with the people of Israel.

Third, Samuel exhorts and warns the people in verses 12-18. Since God has been so faithful to them, Samuel exhorts them to be faithful to Him. Look at verses 12-14. Even though they wanted a king for the wrong reasons, God gave them a king and will continue to bless them if they remain faithful to Him. But what if they don’t? Look at verse 15. If they don’t obey, then the Lord will be against them. In other words, a renewed commitment is great but only if it leads to continued obedience. The Lord will not be with a rebellious people and/or a rebellious king. Samuel even gives a sign to illustrate the gravity of this warning. Look at verses 16-18. Such storms were not supposed to happen during wheat harvest (think snow in July) so the people knew that it was from the Lord. His command was for the people to obey.

Finally, Samuel encourages the people by reminding them of God’s commitment to His own glory. The fear of the Lord falls on the people due to the storm and they confess their sins to Samuel. Look at verse 19. Samuel comforts them and again calls for them to remain faithful and not return to worthless idols. Look at verses 20-21. Why should they give themselves to serve ‘nothings’? Why forsake the Lord for a worthless god that cannot do anything? But there is something greater going on here as well. Look at verse 22. The Lord has a plan for His people. He has connected His glory to their good. That does not mean that He will not punish them if they sin, but it does mean that He will not forsake them for good. King David and King David’s greater Son are coming. The Lord will not forsake that plan. Samuel closes with some final words. Look at verses 23-25. Samuel the prophet will keep praying for them and giving them instructions. And one final time he exhorts them and warns them against future disobedience, which will unfortunately come to pass.

So then, what can we learn from Israel’s renewed commitment to the King? Let me close with a couple of ideas.

First, be sure you are committed to the right King! Israel was always tempted to run after empty things. In truth, all of us are tempted to do that. We run after whatever we think will make us happy. Yet, often we discover that such happiness only lasts for a brief season and we are left wanting more. This is the nature of seeking joy in empty things. Do not continue on that path! The good news is that God had a plan to send Jesus to be our Savior and King. He died for our sins and was raised on the third day so that we could forsake our sin and follow after Him. Would you do that today? Give up on empty things and follow Jesus!
Second, renew your commitment to the Lord by fighting for daily obedience. The problem with all my rededications as a kid is that they normally did not result in any ongoing changes.

My spiritual life was up and down for years because of this. So what changed? The Lord helped me get serious about my daily disciplines of Bible study and prayer. I got more involved in the church and accountability relationships. I began to invest in others and feel the responsibility of setting an example. These are things the Lord used in my life and I believe He can and will use them in yours as well. Don’t renew your commitment to King Jesus by telling Him you are going to be the greatest Christian ever! Ask Him for more grace to be consistently committed to the normal means of grace: Bible study, prayer, church involvement. Stop waiting for your circumstances to change or for the big event and ask the Lord to help you follow Him every day. He is committed to the good of the followers of Christ because their good brings Him glory. Walk in that daily and keep your commitment to the King ever renewed! Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 24 May 2017 )

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