Live in the Good of God's Grace
Topic: Christian Life Basics Passage: 1 Samuel 12:1–12:25
LIVE IN THE GOOD OF GOD’S GRACE
An Exposition of 1 Samuel 12
By Pastor Brian Wilbur
Date: May 17, 2020
Series: Covid-19 Talks
Note: Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
INTRODUCTION TO SERMON
As Christians, we know that we must live on the basis of God's grace. We are a very needy people. Just think of the past day or the past week, and just think about all of the various ways in which we need the mercy and the grace and the strength of God to meet us and strengthen us and deliver us.
Of course, that general truth of our need for God's grace is especially true with respect to our sins. We are a sinful people. We are “prone to wander” – as the hymn puts it – “prone to leave the God [we] love.” Over and over again, we need to return to the grace of our God. If he withheld his grace, we would be consumed. If he withheld his mercy, we would be ruined.
The beautiful thing is that as we read through the Bible, over and over again the beauty of God's grace shines through the written Word. And God's will is that we would behold this beautiful grace, that we would lay hold of it, that we would treasure it, that day after day we would live in the good of God's grace. So, in this particular message, I would like to encourage us from the book of 1 Samuel, chapter 12.
THE SCRIPTURAL TEXT
I'm going to go ahead and read the whole chapter. First Samuel 12 says:
“1 And Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have obeyed your voice in all that you have said to me and have made a king over you. 2 And now, behold, the king walks before you, and I am old and gray; and behold, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my youth until this day. 3 Here I am; testify against me before the LORD and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you.” 4 They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.” 5 And he said to them. “The LORD is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they said, “He is witness.”
“6 And Samuel said to the people, “The LORD is witness, who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt. 7 Now therefore stand still that I may plead with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous deeds of the LORD that he performed for you and for your fathers. 8 When Jacob went into Egypt, and the Egyptians oppressed them, then your fathers cried out to the LORD and the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. 9 But they forgot the LORD their God. And he sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab. And they fought against them. 10 And they cried out to the LORD and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. But now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, that we may serve you. 11 And the Lord sent Jerubbaal and Barak and Jephthah and Samuel and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you lived in safety. 12 And when you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the LORD your God was your king. 13 And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the LORD has set a king over you. 14 If you will fear the LORD and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well. 15 But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king. 16 Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the LORD will do before your eyes. 17 Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the LORD, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking for yourselves a king.” 18 So Samuel called upon the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.
19 And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.” 20 And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 22 For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself. 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and right way. 24 Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”” (1 Samuel 12:1-25)
This is God's holy word, and it is for our good. Let me pray.
Heavenly Father, we thank you that you are a gracious God and that, in your mercy and grace, you have given us this written Word – your very words breathed out from your mouth, that we might be nourished and renewed and strengthened in the path of obedience that you have set before us. Father, I pray that on this day we would hear the Word of the Lord, and that your Word would find a home in our heart, and that we would be nourished and strengthened by your Holy Spirit. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
UNDERSTANDING 1 SAMUEL 12:1-19
Well, eventually I would like to show you six different indications of God's grace that come to us in verses 20-23. But before we get there, let's consider what is happening throughout 1 Samuel 12.
Samuel’s Faithful Ministry (v. 1-5)
In 1 Samuel 12:1-5, Samuel is commending his own record of integrity and faithfulness to the people, and he invites their scrutiny. It is as if he is saying, Tell me if I have defrauded anyone, tell me if I have oppressed anyone, tell me if I have taken advantage of anyone for selfish gain. And, of course, the people recognize that this man, Samuel, who was now advanced in years, was a man of good character.
Even though Samuel is “old and gray” (v. 2), his ministry does not end in 1 Samuel 12. The English Standard Version headlines chapter 12 with the phrase “Samuel’s Farewell Address”. And you get some feel of that in this chapter, as Samuel is old and his ministry is fading away. But his ministry will continue beyond chapter 12.
But in any case, here in chapter 12 Samuel is older, he has lived a long life before the people, and he has been faithful. He has been faithful as a judge, as a prophet, and even as a priest. He has been a faithful representative of the Lord God.
As we walk through the rest of the chapter, Samuel is going to be proclaiming the righteousness of God. He is going to be calling the people to live obediently and righteously. And so, it is a matter of great importance that Samuel himself is a man of integrity. If Samuel's life had been characterized by unrighteousness, by greed, by selfishness, then it would not be fitting for him to proclaim the righteousness of God. If Samuel was corrupt and only looking out for himself and for his own personal advantage, then it would not be fitting for him to call the people to righteousness. So right out of the gate, in these opening verses, Samuel is able to commend his own character, his own example and integrity, to the people.
I am reminded of the apostle Paul in Acts 20 when he is giving his farewell address to the elders in the church of Ephesus. And Paul is able to say, “You yourselves know how I lived among you” (Acts 20:18), and “I coveted no one’s silver or gold” (Acts 20:33). And Paul reminds them that he worked with his own hands to provide for his needs and for the needs of his fellow workers (Acts 20:34). So in Acts 20 Paul was able to commend his integrity and his example to those elders, and so here in 1 Samuel 12 Samuel is able to commend his example to the people.
There is one more thing I want to say about verses 1-5. You will notice that, at the beginning of the chapter, Samuel says to the people, “I have obeyed your voice in all that you have said to me and have made a king over you.” This is very interesting because the people’s desire for a king was fundamentally wrongheaded. The king – King Saul – had recently been appointed to service – and we are going to learn more about that later in the chapter. The people basically demanded a king and this was actually a very wicked thing that they did. So it might seem odd, especially if you are not familiar with the context earlier in 1 Samuel (especially chapter 8) – it might seem odd that Samuel says to the people “I have obeyed your voice” when the people’s voice was entirely wrongheaded. But we need to understand that the Lord was sovereign even over the people's misstep in asking for a king. The Lord specifically told Samuel to “obey their voice” (1 Samuel 8:9, 22) – to do what the people say, to give them the king that they want. The Lord himself was sovereign over all of that.
Samuel Proclaims the Lord’s Righteousness (v. 6-11)
So Samuel has been a faithful judge and prophet for many years.
Now in verses 6-11, Samuel recounts the righteousness and the faithfulness and the grace of God in God’s dealings with Israel in the past. He reminds them that they were a suffering people – an oppressed and enslaved people down in the land of Egypt. And they “cried out to the LORD”, and the Lord heard their cry and he delivered them. He sent Moses and Aaron, who brought the people “up out of the land of Egypt” – out of the house of slavery. And in due course the people came into the promised land. But what happened? Over and over again – as indicated in verse 9 – over and over again, “they forgot the LORD their God.”
You might remember that we walked through Deuteronomy 8 in a recent sermon entitled “God's Wilderness Training Program.” As the children of Israel were on the doorsteps of the promised land, Moses said to the people “you shall remember” (Deuteronomy 8:2); “remember the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 8:18); remember what he has taught you in the wilderness; remember his ways.
And yet, over and over again, the people forgot the Lord. They turned away from the Lord. They sinned against the Lord. And so, the Lord disciplines those he loves, right? Therefore, on multiple occasions, the Lord gave his people into the hand of their enemies, and so they experienced all kinds of affliction and oppression – and it was their own fault. This affliction and oppression that they were suffering was on account of their own sin. And the Lord was disciplining them for their sin. But over and over again – as we see in 1 Samuel 12:10 – they would cry out to the Lord for deliverance. And the Lord would hear their cry and the Lord would raise up a judge. Four of these judges are named in verse 11: “And the LORD sent Jerubbaal [also known as Gideon] and Barak and Jephthah and Samuel [the speaker Samuel is referring to himself].” And so, the Lord would raise up these judges and graciously deliver these people who were not deserving of that deliverance. God is gracious.
Samuel Reproves the People for Demanding a King (v. 12-18)
When we come to verses 12-15, Samuel focuses on their specific sin of asking for a king. Samuel says in verse 12: “And when you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the LORD your God was your king.”
Just notice that Israel had a King: the Lord God Almighty was their King. And their attitude was: ‘That’s not good enough, we want a human king, just like the nations around us. We want a human king to fight our battles for us.’ And so, they rejected the Lord as their King, and they sought a substitute king in his place.
And of course, that first merely human king of Israel was named Saul. Even though they ought not to have asked for a king, nevertheless the Lord is sovereign and the Lord appointed Saul as their first king, and Samuel anointed Saul.
Samuel solemnly charges and warns the people in verses 14-15 – and he is going to say essentially the same thing in verses 24-25 – and it is really a gracious word. It is as if Samuel is saying: Even though you have been a disobedient people, if from this time forward you walk with the Lord, then it will go well with you. But if you do not walk with the Lord, if you continue to go down the path of disobedience – “then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king” (1 Samuel 12:15).
Now as we come to verses 16-18, Samuel continues to focus attention on the people's sin in demanding a human king. Samuel wants them to understand what a great wickedness and what a great evil it was. Samuel says,
“Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the LORD will do before your eyes. Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the LORD, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking for yourselves a king.” (1 Samuel 12:16-17)
Before we get to the dramatic visual display of thunder and rain, let's just think about how great a sin it was for the people to ask for a king. In reality, this is the most fundamental human sin. Just think of the Garden of Eden: God is the Creator and King of the world that he made, and he intends to rule his world by means of his Word. He gave commands to Adam and Eve. And what did they do? Instead of submitting themselves to the rule of the true King, they turned away. They wanted to become their own gods – their own kings – and so they set down the path of disobedience.
The heart of worship – the heart of trusting God, the heart of walking before him – is to recognize that he is King. He says, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) God is the One who promises to protect us, provide for us, watch over us, defend us, and deliver us. God is the One who promises to be with us, and to lead us through whatever trials and difficulties that we may face. He will lead us all the way to the good place that he has promised. But in our sinfulness, we turn away from the Lord God. We turn away from our true sovereign King – the King of both heaven and earth. We turn away from him and we substitute in his place other gods, other lords, other kings, pseudo-truths, idols – and we put those things in the place of God.
The people ought to have trusted the Lord God to take care of them, to defend them, to fight for them, and to win their battles. But instead they said: ‘No, let's have a human king to do those things for us. The other nations have a human king, so let us have a human king too.’ In so doing, they were rejecting the Lord God from ruling over them. This is the heart of sin: to reject the Lord's rightful rule over us.
Now Samuel wants them to understand how great a sin this was. And so he says in essence: I'm going to pray; I'm going to call out to the Lord for thunder and rain. And he is going to answer my call. He is going to testify through the thunder and rain that this word that I am speaking to you is true, and that your sin is high wickedness, and that you are in great peril.
One commentator called attention to the fact that the “wheat harvest” – which Samuel refers to in verse 17 – would have been a dry season, and it would not have been normal for there to be a thunderstorm at such a time. So it was not characteristic of this particular season for there to be a thunderstorm. But in response to Samuel’s call, the Lord sends a thunderstorm. The Lord sends thunder and rain. Through this great physical display of thunder and rain, the Lord is saying a resounding and thundering ‘Amen’ to Samuel’s word of rebuke to the people.
Wouldn't that be just an overwhelming experience? Put yourself in the position of the people, and imagine yourself being called out for your sin – and not just for any sin, but for a great sin, for high wickedness, for cosmic treason, because you have turned away from the Lord God – and then there is thunder and rain. You’re in real trouble, right? And what would you want?
These people – as we are going to see in verse 19 – they are overwhelmed by their sin. And what do they want? They want Samuel to pray for them. Wouldn't you want Samuel to pray for you, if you were in this situation? Samuel has just called you out for your sin. You deserve to die under the judgment of God. God has sent his thunder and rain to give his testimony of approval to Samuel’s rebuke of the people. And the Lord did this in response to Samuel’s prayer. So I might be thinking to myself, ‘Okay, wow, the Lord has just answered Samuel’s prayer to send this little preview of judgment. I think I want Samuel to pray for me. I think I want Samuel to mediate for me, to intercede for me.’ And then I might ask, ‘Samuel, could you please pray to the Lord to be merciful and gracious to us, lest we die?’ Can you picture yourself in that situation?
The people who had heard Samuel’s rebuke and who now felt the thunder and rain, were overwhelmed by their sin. So they asked Samuel to intercede for them:
“And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.”” (1 Samuel 12:19)
The people recognized that they were up to their heads in sin. On top of all their other sins, they had added a terrible evil. Their mindset might have been like this: ‘We were already up to our heads in sin. And on top of already being guilty of breaking commandments two through ten, now we have broken the first commandment in a very heinous way – we have rejected the kingship of our God, we are in real danger, we deserve to die. Samuel, please intercede for us!’ These sinful people needed grace!
GOD’S GRACE SHINES FORTH IN 1 SAMUEL 12:20-23
Now as we segue into verses 20-23, let me say that we are going to see the beautiful grace of God shine forth. We are going to see six demonstrations of God’s grace, and these six demonstrations of grace are interlocked. So even though I’m going to call attention to each one of these six demonstrations of God's grace, we must understand that these six demonstrations of grace are all part of a unified whole – a unified grace that is coming to the people through the words of Samuel.
Demonstration of Grace #1: The Lord comforts a people who are overwhelmed by their sins.
Here is the first demonstration of grace: The Lord comforts a people who are overwhelmed by their sins.
Look at the beginning of verse 20:
“And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil.””
What Samuel says is not what we would expect. We might expect something like, ‘Be very afraid, for you have done all this evil – and now you're in real trouble!’ Let’s remember: they are over their heads in sin, they have just committed cosmic treason, they have turned away from the Lord. And yet, what does the Lord bring to them through Samuel’s words? The Lord brings a word of comfort: do not fear. This is a remarkable thing – that although we are a very sinful people, our God is very gracious.
Remember how the Lord revealed himself in Exodus 34: “The LORD passed before him [Moses] and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin”” (Exodus 34:6-7). Isn't that good news? The Lord could come to us and wipe us out. But instead he says: “Do not be afraid.”
Do not fear. Grace is near. Hold on to that.
Demonstration of Grace #2: The Lord takes pleasure in the obedience of a repentant people.
Here is the second demonstration of grace: The Lord takes pleasure in the obedience of a repentant people, even though their past sins are great and many.
Look at the rest of verse 20:
“Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the Lord with all your heart.”
You see, there's a call here to renewed faith and renewed obedience. And the temptation would be to think that, ‘Since I've got such a long track record of sin and disobedience and transgression, what difference does it make if I take a step of obedience today? My past sin is going to destroy me.’ But that's obviously not the logic that Samuel is employing here. Samuel is saying – you have to read between the lines, but the idea is – Hey people, there is grace here. There is the opportunity to be forgiven and to be renewed. Repent and turn back to the Lord. He is gracious. And if you would begin to walk on that path of obedience today, trusting in his grace, he will be pleased. The obedience that you offer today will matter in his sight, and be valued in his sight, even though you have a long track record of sin in the past.
Demonstration of Grace #3: The Lord Will Fill Your Cup
Here is the third demonstration of grace: The Lord will fill your cup if you fix your hope on Him, even though you have embraced empty substitutes in the past.
Let's move on to verse 21:
“And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.”
This is a beautiful word of instruction, because the very nature of sin is to turn away from the source of all beauty and goodness and nourishment and provision, and to go after empty and worthless things. That's the very nature of sin. In the prophet Jeremiah, sin is described as forsaking the Lord who is “the fountain of living waters” (Jeremiah 2:13). Sin is turning away from God and instead “[hewing] out cisterns for [yourselves], broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). And again, if you have a long track record of chasing futility and chasing emptiness and chasing cheap substitutes for God, you might think ‘Well, he's not going to fill my cup. He's not going to satisfy me now after all of the sin I've engaged in for all these many years.’ But again, that's not the logic that Samuel is operating on. Samuel’s mindset is: From this day forward if you would not turn away from the Lord, if you would not turn away to vain substitutes, but if you would draw near to the Lord and hold fast to him – do you know what? He will profit you. He will deliver you. He will fill your cup. He will renew you. He will breathe life into you again.
Demonstration of Grace #4: The Lord is faithful.
Here is the fourth demonstration of grace: The Lord is faithful.
This comes out very clearly in verse 22:
“For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself.”
The bedrock confidence that we have to stand before the Lord is not our particular measure of repentance or our measure of obedience or our measure of spiritual maturity. Obviously, it is very important that we be a repentant and obedient people. If we go on without repentance and if we go on without obedience and if we go on without transformation, then we are demonstrating the fact that we really do not believe in the Lord and he's not at work in our life and we really don't belong to him. But at the same time, we've got to remember that our confidence is not in the degree of obedience or the degree of repentance or the degree of spiritual maturity that we have attained. Our confidence is in the Lord. He is faithful. He made promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He kept those promises. He redeemed Israel and he brought them into the promised land – not because they were a righteous people, but because God set his affection on them. He loved them, and he is faithful to his promises. And this is our bedrock hope: that the Lord is faithful. And the Lord who is faithful, is gracious. And the Lord who is faithful, is kind. And the Lord who is faithful, keeps his promises. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) He is faithful. He is just. He is gracious to do those things that he has promised.
Demonstration of Grace #5: The Lord’s Appointed Mediator Will Keep Praying! Here is the fifth demonstration of grace: The Lord's appointed mediator, Samuel, is going to keep praying for the people! Isn't this good news?
Samuel says in verse 23:
“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you…”
This is very good news. He just called out to the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain as a word of conviction and a preview of judgment, and yet Samuel makes it clear that ‘I'm for you’. Samuel is an ambassador of the Lord, a representative of God Almighty, and he comes and he says in essence, I'm for you. I love you. I care for you. I'm going to remain faithful to the Lord's call on my life, and I'm going to pray for you. I'm going to intercede for you.
Demonstration of Grace #6: The Lord’s Appointed Mediator Will Keep Teaching the People!
And not only that, but this same Samuel – and we have come now to the sixth demonstration of grace – this same Samuel, who is God's representative, is going to continue to instruct the people.
At the end of verse 23 Samuel says,
“and I will instruct you in the good and right way.”
This reminds me of Psalm 25, where Scripture says, “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.” (Psalm 25:8) Isn't this good news? As sinners who so often prefer our sin, we don't deserve to be instructed by God Almighty. We don't deserve to be instructed by God's faithful servants. That is not something that we deserve. But here is grace: that God would come and that he would teach us and that he would show us the right way – and even beyond those things, that he would send his very own Spirit to help us understand and then to empower us for obedience. All this is grace.
So the Lord comforts a people who are overwhelmed by their sin. The Lord takes pleasure in the obedience of a repentant people, even though their past sins are many and great. The Lord fills the cup of those who fix their hope on him, even though they have embraced empty substitutes in the past. The Lord is faithful. The Lord's appointed representative prays for us, and the Lord's appointed representative teaches us. These are six beautiful demonstrations of God's grace to a sinful people like us.
SAMUEL’S CONCLUDING APPEAL IN 1 SAMUEL 12:24-25
Samuel concludes, “Only fear the LORD” (v. 24) – stand in awe of the Lord, trust him, love him, hold fast to him, cleave to him. Verse 24 says:
“Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.”
Samuel is referring to God's past grace to us. And in verses 20-23 Samuel has been impressing upon us the promise of God's present grace. And so, as we have the promise of God's present, ongoing grace before us and as we have the memory of God's past grace behind us, we are gloriously pursued by grace from all sides. Oh people, walk with your God. He is gracious. He has been gracious. He will continue to be gracious. Follow him and it will go well with you.
Then in verse 25 Samuel issues a warning:
“But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”
Of course, “if you still do wickedly”, if you continue down the path of disobedience, if you thumb your nose at God's grace, if you reject the offers of grace given to you and you continue to turn away from the Lord and go your own way, then you prove to really not be among God's people. You might outwardly be among God's people, but inwardly – in terms of truly belonging to the Lord through faith – you show that you are outside the sphere of God's grace. And if you are outside the sphere of God’s grace, then you will perish – you will be swept away.
APPLYING THE PASSAGE: LIVE IN THE GOOD OF GOD’S GRACE
Return to God’s Grace Today!
Now let me make what I think is a very important application of this passage. Keep in mind that the people heard this gracious word from Samuel in a moment when they were overwhelmed by their sins, by their many sins. We can often be overwhelmed by our sins. One of the problems that we face when we are overwhelmed by our sins is that we can be paralyzed, we can be immobilized, we can be rendered totally ineffective by our awareness of our sin. And so, we just tank or we go from bad to worse or we just sulk in self-pity. We have this guilt and this shame and this sin that stands between us and God. And the temptation is to think, ‘I want to draw near to God, but what difference would it really make to take a step of obedience today? I mean, who really cares about a step of obedience today when I’ve got such a track record of sin behind me?’ And so, we can get locked into our past sins and be so discouraged and disheartened by them, that we refuse to lay hold of God's grace and live in the good of God's grace today. And so, we need to continually return to the grace of God, to continually return to that wonderful refuge.
So think about your own situation. Maybe you have in your mind how you have failed recently. You have failed your God. You have failed as a parent. You have failed as a spouse. You have fallen into a familiar pattern of sinning or into a besetting sin. You wasted yesterday – you could have done so much good and you wasted it with trivialities and internet surfing and a bunch of stuff that doesn't really matter – and now you just feel stuck. This promise of grace in 1 Samuel 12 is a great blessing to people who feel stuck in their past sin, because the Lord comes to you with comfort and with encouragement and with a willingness to receive you, to forgive you, to welcome you back on the path of obedience today. So be encouraged: don't get stuck in the memory of yesterday's sin, but rather have your eyes wide open to the present opportunity of God's grace made available today. Have a grace-governed mindset: ‘Today, I can live in the good of God's grace. Today, I can believe God's promises. Today, I can receive his instruction. Today, I can be renewed in my walk with the Lord.’
Behold the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ
Now all of this ultimately points forward to the Lord Jesus Christ. The supreme worth and the saving work of Jesus is the central message of all Scripture. He is the ultimate mediator between a holy God and sinful humanity. No mere human prophet, no mere human priest, no mere human king can be a truly effective mediator between God and mankind. But Jesus, the God-Man, is the faithful and effective mediator between God and God’s people (Romans 8:34, 1 John 2:1-2).
In fact, it's really fascinating when you think about this, because who is the rightful king of God's people? Jesus, right? And back here in 1 Samuel, the people rejected God as their King. They rejected God who was in heaven as their King. Well in due course, God sent his eternal and divine Son to earth as a man, the God-Man Jesus Christ who is the rightful king of God's people. And what did they do? They rejected him. And yet, this Jesus whom they rejected, whom they crucified, he stands forth as the embodiment of God's grace to a sinful people. Do you remember when Peter in the gospels was overwhelmed by his sinfulness as he found himself in the presence of holy Jesus? And what did Jesus say? “Do not be afraid” (Luke 5:10). And then Jesus invited Peter onto his team: “from now on you will be catching men” (Luke 5:10).
Our Lord Jesus came to a world full of great sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, prodigals, and spiritual underachievers – like you and me. And he said, in essence, Let my grace cover you. Come follow me, and I will lead you back to the Father. Jesus is the embodiment of God's faithfulness. He came precisely because God has not abandoned his people. God sent his Son in order to bring salvation and the forgiveness of sins to his wayward people. Jesus is the ultimate mediator: He is the “one mediator between God and men” (1 Timothy 2:5). His broken body and his shed blood and his perfect sacrifice make a way for us to come into the presence of God. And by his Spirit, he teaches us. Maybe we weren't good students yesterday, maybe we fell into an old pattern of sin yesterday, but still our Lord Jesus comes. Jesus is the One who came for us, the One who died for us, the One who rose again for us, and the One who always lives for us.
And so today, brothers and sisters, let us hear his voice. Let us be reminded of his grace and let us be renewed in his call upon our lives. His grace will cover us. His atoning sacrifice will cover us. Guilt gone. Shame gone. Sin taken away. And with a clear conscience – not because we have a record of righteousness, but because he is righteous and he has drawn us into himself and he graciously covers us – with a clear conscience we can follow our Lord with great energy and passion today.
Let me pray.
Father, I pray that this word would go forth to a weary and prone-to-sin people. I pray that we would hear this beautiful demonstration of your amazing grace. And I pray that this grace would lift us up, fill us up, gladden our hearts, and strengthen us on the path of obedience. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
Brothers and sisters: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God [the Father] and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” (2 Corinthians 13:14)
 From the hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”
 See John L. Mackay, 1–2 Samuel, p. 136. In ESV Expository Commentary, Volume 3: 1 Samuel – 2 Chronicles. Wheaton: Crossway, 2019.
John L. Mackay, 1–2 Samuel. In ESV Expository Commentary, Volume 3: 1 Samuel – 2 Chronicles. Wheaton: Crossway, 2019.