Responding to Failure (1 Samuel 12:20-22)

1 Samuel 12:20-22 – 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. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 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.”

After the people of Israel demanded a king to reign over them in place of the LORD, they became convinced by God of their great sin. They feared greatly, and they asked Samuel to pray for them. Samuel’s response to the people both offered them forgiveness and directed them how to live in the future. The forgiveness is implied in the fact that the people are not going to die. The instructions are what they have to follow in order not to get into more trouble.

What I want us to learn from this is how we need to respond to God when we find ourselves failing. First, we need to recognize it when we sin, and we need to seek God’s forgiveness. The people of Israel feared that they would die, which shows that they truly grasped that they had sinned before a holy God who most certainly would have been righteous to judge them. When you sin, you need that same recognition. Any sin, even the slightest little sin, is infinitely offensive to a holy God. That God would be absolutely righteous to judge us for it, but he is gracious to forgive.

Once you have confessed your sin to God and sought his forgiveness, there is still something that you need to do. It is important that we not allow ourselves to fall into self-pity when we fail. It is important that we stand strong against falling into the same sinful patterns. It is vital that we replace the sinful activity with righteousness. That is what Samuel commanded when he told them to no longer trust in empty things that can not save them, but to serve the LORD with all their hearts. It is a simple call to stop trusting in the world and the flesh, but to instead serve God with all you have.

The final thing to do is to fully trust in God. Samuel told the people that God will not forsake his people. Why not? God will not forsake his people not out of anything they do or are. God will not forsake his people for his own name’s sake. God’s reputation is at stake in how he treats his people. He wants to be known as merciful to his people who return to him seeking forgiveness. He wants to be known as a God who blesses those who follow him with all their hearts. He will be faithful, because he will not let his name be known as unfaithful.

Dear Lord, I thank you for the truth found here in your word. When we fail, you are faithful to forgive us when we acknowledge, confess, and repent of our sins in Christ. It is not by anything we can do that you forgive us. You forgive based on the merit of Christ. I pray that you will help me to always turn from empty things, and to seek you and you only. I want to serve you with all my heart as you command.