“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” (1 Samuel 12:23-24)
The background of our text is that Samuel was the Judge, Priest, and Prophet for God over Israel in the Days of the Judges. “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).
God raised up Samuel to lead and guide the children of Israel. But, they wanted a king; and God told Samuel, toward the end of Samuel’s days, to anoint Saul as king. In 1 Samuel 12:1-25, Samuel related to the children of Israel that they had a King and His name was God (verse 12); but, ye have rebelled and sinned in this matter. The people acknowledged that they had sinned and asked Samuel to pray for them (verse 19), that they die not.
Then in verses 20-22, Samuel said, Yes you have sinned, but “…turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart” (1 Samuel 12:20). Samuel went on to say, don’t turn aside and follow vain things that cannot profit you or deliver you (verse 21). Samuel assured them: “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” (1 Samuel 12:22).
Then Samuel said, but “as for me” (verse 23); Samuel said two things he would do: (1) he would pray for them; (2) he would teach them the good and the right way. Then in verse 24, Samuel lists the good and the right way:
1) Fear the Lord: “Only fear the LORD” Solomon, in his Proverbs, teaches what the fear of the Lord is:
a) (Proverbs 1:7) “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
i) (Proverbs 9:10) “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”
b) (Proverbs 8:13) “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.” Because God hates pride, arrogancy, the evil way, and the forward mouth.
c) (Proverbs 14:26) “In the fear of the LORD is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge.”
d) (Proverbs 14:27) “The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, to depart from the snares of death.”
e) (Psalms 34:11-14) “Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. (12) What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? (13) Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. (14) Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.”
Therefore Samuel said “only fear the Lord”; submit to God, the only True and Living God, for He is your strong confidence and your Fountain of Life; obey Him and hate evil, and turn from evil, and obey Him and His Commandments. He alone is God, for there is no other. Therefore put aside the vain gods of men; only submit and obey the Lord God; for He alone will never forsake thee; and He alone will deliver thee. No man, no king, can deliver you; only God has the power to do so, and He has promised to do so. Therefore, fear (or worship) no other than the LORD (Jehovah) God (Elohim).
2) Serve the Lord: “And serve him in truth with all your heart” That is, be His servant, carry out His Word and Commandments. However, to serve is more than to obey. Christ said if all we do is obey, we are still unprofitable (Luke 17:7-10). To serve speaks of discipleship. Discipleship speaks of giving all your body, soul, and spirit to serve Christ. It includes your attitude, your actions and your attire. (See Luke 14:26-33.)
a) (Luke 14:26-27) “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. (27) And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.”
b) (Luke 14:33) “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.”
You must serve Him in Truth, or in Christ (John 14:6; Galatians 2:20; Hebrews 10:38a). That is, we must serve in the Spirit of Christ; in His Power (Philippians 4:13, 19). And this service must be with all your heart, which means you are a true disciple (or follower) of Christ.
3) Remember the Lord: “For consider how great things he hath done for you.” Or meditate on, remember, what a great thing He has done for you. What has God done for you? Reconciled you; redeemed you; justified you; and called you; and given you the Gift of the Holy Spirit. Now you have the basis of His Atonement for your sins; you have received the New Birth; and you can see His Kingdom and enter into His Kingdom (John 3:3-8). Now you have peace with God (Romans 5:1-2); and you have the peace of God, as you walk in His Love and His Peace and His Power.
Oh, that God’s men would pray for God’s people, and would teach them the good and the right way; for herein is the path that God’s people are to walk in, to honor God and to receive the Blessings of God as they travel life’s journey.