June 2, 2023
“Samuel called on the Lord, and on that day, the Lord sent thunder and rain. As a result, all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. Samuel replied, 'Don’t be afraid...'”
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“Samuel called on the Lord, and on that day, the Lord sent thunder and rain. As a result, all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. Samuel replied, ‘Don’t be afraid. Even though you have committed all this evil, don’t turn away from following the Lord. Instead, worship the Lord with all your heart. Don’t turn away to follow worthless things that can’t profit or deliver you; they are worthless. The Lord will not abandon His people, because of His great name, and because He has determined to make you His own people. As for me, I promise that I will not sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you. I will teach you the good and right way.’” 1 Samuel 12:18-23 (CSB)
As a young musician in my early 20s, I had followed the Lord for the first time and dropped out of college. I felt He was leading me into the music business. Nobody else in my family heard that calling, so I was doing double duty: Following the Lord and trying to legitimize my decision to my folks! I thought I would silence my critics with a record contract. I prayed, worked hard, networked even harder, and eventually, I landed a record deal.
I remember sitting with my attorney as we read through my contract. He said to me, “You know the word ‘contract’ means ‘to bind,’ i.e., “a boa constrictor contracts his prey!’” We both had a laugh. Several years later, it wasn’t quite as funny when my career goals didn’t match the record company’s business plan. Yet, there we were, leg-ironed like two prisoners disputing over which direction to run. (By the way, you always eventually run in the direction of the biggest inmate!)
The Hebrew word for “covenant” is “b’rit.” It comes from an Akkadian term meaning “clasp” or “fetter.” A covenant chains two parties to each other. In Israel’s case (and ours), the parties chained together are a people to their God. They are bound to obligations to each other. And for the vassal (the smaller party), the primary obligation is to the benefactor or “king.” If a covenant was broken (by one party), the other party had a right to either enforce or terminate that covenant.
Israel had rejected their covenant by asking for a king (other than the Lord) who would rule as the kings of the other nations. But God’s decision, Him being the greater party in the covenant, was not to forsake His people. Instead, He chose to motivate Israel to follow His direction. After all, He is the bigger of the two, “chained” together.
Believer, have you chosen to run away from the Lord’s leading? You won’t get far with those fetters you’re wearing! Our best scenario is to surrender our wills to the Father, recognize He always chooses wisely, and follow His lead. Furthermore, if you advise another brother or sister on how they should go, hold them accountable with truth and grace. Remember that we, too, are prone to wander.
©Steve Wiggins 2021