I Samuel 12 describes how the people of Israel had “messed up” by seeking a king to reign over them, in order that they might be like all the other nations. Verses 17-19 make it clear that the people had sinned, and they admitted it — a crucial first step to repairing their relationship with God. It is instructive that Samuel then gave them this word in :20, “Do not fear. You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart.” This was an important word for the people to hear. Many, when they have “blown it”, are tempted to think that there is no hope now of having a good relationship with God again — and the enemy is quick to fuel those thoughts!
In the classic movie, “Chariots of Fire”, one of the lead characters, Harold Abrahams, lost a race for the first time in all his life, to the “Flying Scotsman”, Eric Liddell. Abrahams was crushed by this first-ever defeat, and was so despondent as a result that at first he never wanted to run again. Many people who experience a moral or spiritual failure fall into a similar kind of depression spiritually, and are tempted to give up on their walk with God.
But pre-empting this kind of attitude, Samuel gives a much-needed word of hope to Israel. He told them: “Do not fear” — they were not going to be destroyed for what they had done. God takes no pleasure in the death of those who sin, but desires for them to repent (Ezekiel 33:11). He does not minimize what they have done (which is the error many “comforters” make) but rather reinforces their confession of sin (“You have committed all this evil”). But then he encourages them: “YET do not turn aside from following the Lord; but serve the Lord with all your heart.” Here Samuel tells the wayward people: this sin does NOT mean that there is now no hope for your relationship with the Lord; indeed, take this opportunity to recommit yourself to Him, and you may still serve God.
Those of us who have sinned need to hear this same word of encouragement today. Just because you have “messed up” does not mean that you cannot again have a meaningful walk with God. ALL of God’s people have “messed up” (Romans 3:23); indeed, none are truly His people who have not admitted so! Do not be tempted to cast aside your relationship with God because you think you’ve “blown it” — that is the devil whispering in your ear! Instead, listen to the voice of God consoling you through the words of His servant Samuel: “Do not fear. You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.”
Tomorrow we will read how our hope of a restored relationship with the Lord when we have “messed up” is based upon one of the most fundamental character qualities of God Himself.