The people all said to Samuel, “Pray to the LORD your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.” “Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own. As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you. 1 Samuel 12:19-24
Saul has been confirmed as Israel’s first human king. Earlier God had spoken to Samuel concerning the people’s request for Samuel to appoint a king over them, saying, it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. Now with Saul confirmed as king, Samuel addresses the people as he prepares to step down from his role as the last of God’s judges to lead the people. He warns the people of what it means to have human king and what will happen if both they and the king do not fear and follow the Lord. In a great demonstration of power the Lord sends rain and thunder that have the people standing in awe. They reply to Samuel with today’s verses. There is much hope in Samuel’s reply to the people: 1) despite their sin, do not turn away from the Lord, but serve him with all your heart. 2) The Lord will not reject his people because He was pleased to make you His own. 3) Samuel will sin against God by failing to pray for them. Even as it was for Israel back then, these same points apply to us today.