Turn Not Aside from the Living God!
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; And turn ye not aside: for then
should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for
they are vain.
(1 Samuel 12:20-21)
In the preceding verses of this chapter, the prophet Samuel recounts the
sins of Israel and reminds them of the deliverance of God to make it
vividly clear to the Israelites that they have sinned against the LORD
in asking for a king. This is evidenced primarily by verse number 12,
“And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came
against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when
the LORD your God was your king.” However, it was not until Samuel
called on God to rain down thunder and rain from heaven that the
Israelites finally understood the magnitude of their sin.
Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the LORD will do
before your eyes. Is it not wheat harvest to day? I will call unto the
LORD, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive
and see that your wickedness is great, which
ye have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king.
So Samuel called unto the LORD; and the LORD sent thunder and rain
that day: and all the people greatly feared the LORD and
Samuel. And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy
servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we
have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king.
(1 Samuel 12:16-19)
In the above passage, we see a plea by the Israelites for forgiveness
from God. They acknowledged their sin, confessed it, and asked for
forgiveness of it. However, the first thing we see here is that it took
thunder and rain from God for them to see the magnitude of their sin.
Many times we are the same way; we don’t recognize how much our sin
offends God until we reap the consequences of our sin. But, we also
realize in verse twenty that despite Israel’s rebellion against God for
asking a king and despite their spiritual ignorance and blindness that
originally prevented them from recongizing the magnitude of their sin,
God was still willing to forgive them.
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;
(1 Samuel 12:20)
Notice the first words that Samuel says to the people after their plea
for forgiveness is “Fear not…” Many times this phrase has been used in
Scripture to provide comfort and reassurance to troubled believers.
Here, it is a token of God’s forgiveness. Samuel tells them to fear not
even though they have “done all this wickedness.” Even when we sin and
mess up royally, God is still willing to forgive us and restore us back
to our former state. However, we also see that a command is presented in
this verse for the Israelites to turn from their wickedness, repent, and
follow the LORD. This is evidenced by the phrase “yet turn not aside…”
Although the Israelites have been forgiven, they are to now walk in the
ways of the Lord and are not to turn aside, or depart, from the law of
the Lord. This same commandment is also referenced in the Pentateuch.
Let’s take a look:
Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye
turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;
It is also mentioned again in our text in verse 21:
“And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain
things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they ar vain.”
(1 Samuel 12:21)
Here, the Israelites are given the command to “take heed to yourselves,
that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside…” The phrase “take
heed” here means to guard or to protect. Basically, the commandment is
this: Protect and guard yourselves that your emotions, will, and
intellect be not deceived so that you would turn aside to other gods and
commit idolatry. We see that this very same command applies to us as
Christians today. We are to guard and protect ourselves against the
influences of the world, the flesh, and the devil such that we do not
turn from the old paths of righteousness and follow the wicked,
perverse, and carnal paths of compromise, worldliness, and idolatry,
which lead to death. We are instructed to “Be strong in the Lord, and in
the power of his might…” and to “Put on the whole armour of God, that
ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil…” All of these
commands are there so that we would “take heed” and that we would not
“turn aside” from the true and right way to the “vain things” of this
May you commit to pray today that you would “take heed” and guard
yourself against the allurements and temptations of this world that you
would be able to stand against the wiles of the Devil, and stay away
from the alluring paths of compromise, and stand fast on the old paths
which lead to righteousness?