We sometimes mistakenly believe that because God forgives sin, He tolerates sin. We create a repeating cycle of sin, repentance, forgiveness, and then sin again. This can continue so long that we justify the sin in our minds. We believe our own excuses and our own lies. When we believe our own lies long enough, we become calloused and insensitive to sin. We close the door to the leading of the Holy Spirit-led, even to our own conscience. In the end, we refuse to ask God’s forgiveness, for we feel justified in our sin.
In 1 Samuel 20, the prophet and judge Samuel mourns for what he believes is the death of the spiritual life of the nation of Israel. They are God’s chosen people, with a system of government unlike any other. Mighty men and women of God traditionally rise up as called by God to judge the nation, guide the nation, or rescue the nation from her enemies.
The problem is that the more victories and prosperous the nation becomes, the more Israel rebels against God. Now, the people call for a king to replace the judges. They want a strong man to rule over them instead of a man of God to guide them. They want to be like other nations. They tire of being held accountable by the Law of God.
Samuel, the last judge, mourns.
God concedes to Israel’s demands and reveals to Samuel the chosen king. Samuel anoints the king, but is frustrated at the people’s rebellion against God.
Before retiring from the office of judge, Samuel pronounces the sins of the people and calls down lightning from heaven to emphasize his point.
The demonstration is a reminder to the people of the power of God. The people of Israel become fearful of the lightning and of Samuel, but they do not repent. Sadly, they ignore the demonstration of God’s power, and ignore the call to repentance, and decide to rule over their own lives instead of allowing God to rule over them. They welcome their new king.
They make excuses in their own mind. They justify their sin by reminding themselves that they will be just like other nations. They resist repentance. They believe their own lies. They settle for less than God’s perfect plan.
Samuel’s final plea to them as judge included these words:
Fear Not, but do not turn aside…
They turn aside, nonetheless.