Taking the Witness Stand

Date Preached: March 15, 2020
From the Series: The Original Game of Thrones
Topics: exposition
Scripture: 1 Samuel 12
Notes: Download PDF
Speaker: Gary Combs


If you’re trying to sit in the judge’s chair today, then it’s impossible not to live the life of a hypocrite. It’s always easier to see the wrong in others. But God’s Word is like a mirror. When we look into it, we see our sin and our hypocrisy. It makes us stop judging and instead look for an attorney for our own mess! Or it causes us to turn away and try to hide. Yet, in hiding we continue to suffer from the consequences of our sin: broken relationships, making excuses, never being real, always covering up for the ugliness underneath.

Which seat will you sit in today? Will you listen closely as we call our first witness…

In 1 Samuel 12, the prophet Samuel called the people of Israel to bear witness that they had sinned greatly by asking for a human king when the LORD God was their King, making it clear that how they responded to this truth would determine their future as God’s people. We too have rejected God as King and how we respond to this truth affects our future. What questions must be considered in rightly responding to God as King?


Below is an automated transcript of this message:

All right, good morning! We’re so happy to have you watching with us this morning. We’re happy to be here at our Wilson campus, where I have at least a small audience; we have our band. Who’s sitting out there? Can I hear from the band? We’re having church here and we’re glad to have you. Many of you may be viewing on our church online platform. Others may have just discovered us on Facebook and you can watch there. But we would encourage you to click on the link there on Facebook and switch over to the Church online platform where we actually have online counselors who can pray with you. They are there to pray with you and can answer your questions and so forth. We would encourage you to click on the link and watch us. Here’s where we’re at this morning.

My name is Pastor Gary Combs. We’ve been preaching at both of our campuses, Wilson and Rocky Mount, through the book of First Samuel. If you’re visiting for the first time with us today, we would ask that you would go back and look at some of the previous videos in previous weeks to catch up. You can find those on our church website.

We’re in chapter 12 today, in a series that we’re calling, “The Original Game of Thrones.” We take our theme text from 1 Samuel 8:7 (ESV) “And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.”

You see, the original game of thrones really started way back there, even before first Samuel. It started back in the book of Genesis with Adam and Eve. Ever since the beginning, humanity has rejected God as their true king. We’ve been playing a kind of game of thrones with God ever since. In fact, there are many today that not only would say, I would like to be the king of my own life but I’m also a judge. That’s the problem for many of us today; we’re trying to take the place of the judge. I was reading recently, from C. S. Lewis’s book, “God In the Dock.” He wrote this, “The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man, the roles are quite reversed. He is the judge: God is in the dock. He is quite a kindly judge; if God should have a reasonable defense for being the god who permits war, poverty, and disease, he is ready to listen to it. The trial may even end in God’s acquittal. But the important thing is that man is on the bench and God is in the dock.”

That we are docked means that we’ve put God in the place of the one who’s accused and we’re trying to sit on the bench as the judge. Many of us are doing that today. Are you trying to do that today?

Here’s the thing you’ll run into when you try to take the role of the judge. You’ll immediately notice that you’re falling into hypocrisy because all of us are sinners and fall short. It’s kind of like this; if you look at God’s Word and you listen to God’s Word today, it’s like looking into a mirror. You start noticing the imperfections in your own life, so we don’t want to take the role of the judge because it leads to hypocrisy. Besides, we have our own mess.

Why not put God in charge? Why not make Him the King and recognize that He’s the true judge? When we do this, we’re being real; we’re being authentic. We’re no longer making excuses for our messes. But we’re saying we need help. We admit that we need help today. If you’re sitting in the judge’s chair, I would encourage you to switch seats and, instead, join me today, as we sit over in the witness stand and we bear witness to what God is doing through this book of First Samuel. Will you sit in that seat today? Get out of the bench seat and sit in the witness chair.

We’re gonna be in first Samuel, chapter 12 today, where the Prophet Samuel called the people of Israel to bear witness that they had sinned greatly by asking for a human king when indeed, the Lord God was their true King. Samuel, you wanted to make it clear that how they responded to this truth would determine their future with God and as God’s people.

The problem that we have today is that we, too, have rejected God as our true King, and we should consider how this might affect our future. We’re going to look at three questions today as we go through First Samuel chapter 12 and give time for each of us, as individuals, to answer these three questions. Are you ready to take the witness stand? Here we go.

Let’s read First Samuel, Chapter 12 starting at verse one. We will take this in three portions and then we’ll ask a question and consider it together.

1 Samuel 12:1-5 (ESV) “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.” This is God’s Word. Amen.

We’re looking today at three questions to answer rightly in responding to God as King. Are you ready for the first question?

1. Do you affirm the integrity of God’s judgment?

In other words, when you look at God, are you ready to see Him as the one true judge? As the one, as he gives us His Word, as He speaks to us through His Word, that you would say You are right, You are righteous, You have integrity and I trust your judgment over anyone else’s, including my own? How would you answer that question?

As we look at the first five verses here together, I want you to notice the courtroom words that Samuel is using. In fact, you’ll see that he calls himself first to the dock, the dock being, especially in European countries and in early American times, the place where you put the defendant. Sometimes they would actually have a cage in the courtroom that they would put the defendant. So, when we say that someone is in the dock, we’re saying they are the accused. And so, Samuel puts himself in the dock first.

He says, have I taken your donkey? Have I stolen from you? Have I taken anything that belongs to you? And the people said, no, you’ve never taken anything from us. Have I oppressed you as the judge? Samuel, up until this time, you see, this is the transition from the time of the judges to the time of the kings. He says, have I ever oppressed you? If I have done anyone wrong (notice these words like testify, witness, bribery and fraud. These are courtroom terms), accuse me, bear witness against me. The people said, we can’t do it.

Notice that, as he says this, this passage begins with the word, “and.” “And Samuel said to all Israel. “ We’re leaving chapter 11, where he’s just had a big old party, if you will. He has had a big old time. They’ve won a victory and they have proclaimed Saul as King. All of the people are rejoicing.

Now, in the midst of this, on the same day Samuel throws a wet blanket on the proceedings because he wants them to understand something. God gave you what you asked for. Watch out, friends; sometimes God gives you exactly what you asked for. Be careful what you ask for; you asked for a key, and so, in doing, you’ve rejected God. So now, he’s going to go through and make a case against Israel. He starts with himself. He puts himself in the dock and he says to bear witness against him. They couldn’t do it. He says, I’ve walked before you, in verse 2. He says, examine my walk; you’ve seen me since I was a child. He says, since I was a young man, you’ve seen me. You’ve seen how I’ve walked . Look at my life; do you see anything to accuse?

You can read in first Samuel, chapter three It says this about Samuel. 1 Samuel 3:19-20 (ESV) “19 And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord.” Everybody knew it, yet they rejected him. And by rejecting Samuel and calling for a king, they were indeed rejecting God. And so then Samuel calls them to witness before the Lord. He says, before the Lord, as your witness, now tell the truth.

It’s kind of like if you go into an American courtroom today and they tell you to put your hand on the Bible and lift one hand. The bailiff is usually the one who calls people to do this. He’ll ask you to say something like this, Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you, God? That’s the way I remember it from watching Perry Mason when I was a kid. Anyway, that’s what you do. You put your hand on the Bible and you swear in.

That’s what Samuel’s asking them to do. As God as your witness, can you accuse me? And they said no, He is our witness. He is their witness. In verse 5 it says, “ he is witness.” And so before the king, he says, before your anointed; he’s referring to king Saul, who he had anointed before them. So, before the king who’s standing over there and before God as your witness, do you affirm that I have done nothing deserving your rejection? And they said, “he is witness.”

This kind of reminds me of how Pontius Pilot was trying to to release Jesus because he could find no fault in Him. He knew there was a custom at the season of Passover, where he would let the people choose a criminal to release. So, he brought Barabbas and he brought Jesus up on the platform and he said, I see no fault in Him. Who would you have me release? And they said, “Barabbas, Barabbas. ” And he said, what should I do with Jesus of Nazareth? And they begin to cry out, “crucify Him.” He took a pan of water and washed his hands. He then says, I wash my hands of His blood. They shouted out, may His blood be upon us and upon our children. And so, they bore witness against Jesus.

Israel here bears witness. They say, “he is witness.” God is witness that we have rejected you and you did no wrong. You did nothing to deserve it. We’ve mistreated you. You see, Samuel was representing God’s righteous judgment. He was doing what God told him to do. But Israel wanted a king like the nations.

It says in Romans, speaking of God’s righteousness as a judge, Paul writes this, he says, Romans 2:2,5,11,16 (ESV)” 2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls … 5 on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. …11 For God shows no partiality. …16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” In other words, on the day of judgment, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed, He will show no partiality. He won’t be partial. He’s an impartial judge. He’s a righteous judge. He judges rightly.

Verse 16 says, “on that day, when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” In other words, God’s standard of judgment is, do you know Christ or not? It won’t be about whether you’ve been good enough or whether you’ve been bad. It’ll be because of what you’ve done for Jesus. God’s judgment is here. This is God’s judgment for all who have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. That includes all of us. We’ve all fallen short of God’s glory.

Here’s God’s righteous judgment concerning sin. It says in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” Do you affirm the righteous judgement of God? How do you answer this question? Do you bear witness? Do you affirm that God is righteous in His judgment and that we will all, one day, stand before Him. What we’ve done with Christ will be his way of judging.

Have you received Christ as Lord and Savior? Have you received His righteousness? None of us, not one of us, is righteous. But when we receive Jesus, we have His righteousness, accounted unto us by faith in Christ alone. How do you answer the question?

Let’s keep reading. The next question will come after this reading.

Let’s read, starting at verse six.

“1 Samuel 12:6-11 (ESV) 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.”

Who’s in the dock now? Who is Samuel putting in the accused position? He’s putting God there, that’s Who. He’s saying, “consider what God has done for you.” If you sit on the witness stand, answer this question,

2. Have you cried out for God’s Righteous Deliverer? Did you notice in this story that the Israelites, whenever they would get into trouble, they would cry out and say, we’ve sinned and we need you to save us and to rescue us. Are you at the point where you would do that? How would you answer this question? Have you cried out for God’s righteous deliverer? What’s it gonna take? Is it going to take a national pandemic before you would say, this world is out of control? Well, you have got one. What’s it gonna take? What kind of bottom do we have to hit before we admit He’s God? And I’m not? I cannot control this universe. I can’t even control my own actions. Would you cry out to God? How are you going to answer this question? Have you, yet, cried out for God’s righteous deliverer?

Samuel puts the Lord on the dock and he pleads the case of the Lord. Do you see him do it? He starts off by saying, remember how Jacob went into Egypt? Jacob’s name was changed to Israel. The seventy members of Jacob’s (Israel’s) family moved into Egypt because there was a famine in the Middle East. They were there under Joseph’s care for a season. Over time, the Pharaoh had forgotten what Joseph had done and they began to enslave the people of Israel. They were there in slavery for 400 years. Do you remember that? Do you remember how you cried out to God in your slavery? God, Moses and Aaron are deliverers, foreshadowing the coming of Jesus Christ, Who is our deliverer? Remember how He brought you out of Egypt?

In verse 9, he keeps going through it. He says they forgot the Lord. This is what happens to us when we get comfortable; when everything’s going right. The markets are up and climbing; things are good. Now, we have the lowest employment rate that we’ve had in forever. Things were going well, interest rates were dropping and we’re refining our houses. Life was good, but we need the Lord.

This is what happened in Israel. They were in the Promised Land; they forgot Him. When they forgot him, because the Lord loved them and He cared more about their character than he did their comfort, He sent them enemies to get their attention. He sent enemies towards them.

In Verse nine, it says, 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. This is during the time of Jerusalem. Jerubbaal is the given name, the Hebrew name was actually Gideon. Remember Gideon back there in the book of judges? Gideon was actually during the time of the wheat harvest. He was so afraid of the Midianites that were attacking, who kept coming through like a plague of locusts and taking all their stuff. And they would always show up during the wheat harvest. Gideon was actually threshing the wheat in the place where you do the wine; so he was not on the hill where the wind would blow the chaff away. He’s down there in the middle of the valley. There’s no wind; he’s down there. He’s got chaff sticking to him.

If you’ve ever been around hay, that stuff itches, and so he’s there with all of this difficulty and he’s hiding from the Midianites. He’s trying to thresh wheat when an angel of the Lord shows up and he says, Oh, mighty hero, Oh, mighty champion of God. Gideon has wheat stuck in his hair and everything, wondering, are you talking to me? I’m talking to you. God’s calling you to rescue your people from your enemies because he’s heard the cry. And so the Holy Spirit comes upon him; he destroys the Ashtaroth and the Baal. that’s in his town. The people get up the next morning and he’s chopped it all up and he has burned it. He has killed one of his father’s oxen and offered a sacrifice to the Lord. The people want to kill him and his father says, let Baal defend himself. If you guys are going to serve Baal, let Baal defend himself; he protected his son. And so they changed his name from Gideon to Jerubbaal, which means let Baal defend him. And so that’s kind of his nickname. Did you see that list of judges there? If you’re looking in your bibles right now, it says, and the Lord sent Jerubbaal. That’s one of the judges that’s getting it. He defeated the enemies there.

Then, there is Barak and Jephthah. He’s the one that defeats Sisera. He fought against their army; actually, the prophet during that time was a woman, the only female judge. Her name was Deborah. , She actually told Barak the Lord’s calling us to to to take them on. You go fight them. He tells her, if you’ll come with me, I’ll do it. She says, if I come with you, (she kind of prophecies over this), then a woman will get credit. He doesn’t care. I want you to come with me.

The story continues, of how Sisera the Commander and his whole army was defeated. He fled and went to the tent of a woman named Jael, who gave him goat’s milk, a blanket, and killed him with a tent stake (Judges 4-5). She was the wife of Barak the Canaanite. These details in the book of Judges are awesome. She says, come on and take a nap in my tent. See? You gotta watch out, guys; sometimes it’s not the sword. Sometimes it’s the woman that will get you. Amen. Right? She entices him into her tent, she sees that he is exhausted. She tells him to lay down and she will give him something to drink. She gives him warm goat’s milk because that will help him relax. She puts a blanket over him, gives him some milk and he goes to sleep. This ought to be in the movies. I’m telling you can’t beat this information. Jael, takes a tent stake and drives it through his temple while he’s sleeping. Just like Deborah said, a woman got credit for defeating Sisera. God can use a woman with a tent peg.

The final judge that Samuel mentions is himself. He puts God in the dock and he says this, have you noticed, Israel, that ever since you’ve been here, when things go well, you forget God. But when things go poorly, you cry out to God and you repent of your sin. And every time you do, He sends a deliverer. Now, friends, I want to say this to you. He’s already done that for you. He’s already sent you a deliverer. Israel needed to understand that it wasn’t Samuel. It wasn’t Jael or Deborah or Gideon. It was God that was doing the delivering; it was God that was doing the rescuing.

It says in, Psalm 18:2 (ESV) The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. It is God who delivers us.

You might be looking to the president. You might be arguing on different social media about who’s politically right or who’s politically wrong. You might be talking about how afraid you are right now. My friend, it won’t be the president. It doesn’t matter what political party you prefer. It’ll be God that rescues us from this. Let’s turn to Him. As we’re praying today on this National Day of Prayer, let’s pray that God would guide our leaders in government, our leaders locally and statewide, for God is their deliverer.

Samuel was the last judge. He’s the last one that’s listed here because from then on it was the age of the Kings. In Galatians 1:3-5 (ESV) 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. Jesus is the final deliverer. He is our prophet, priest, king and judge. He’s the one that God has sent to deliver us.

listed not all of the men and women from the book of Judges. He could have listed many more; he kind of hand picked four of them. He picked Jerubbaal, Barak and Jephthah and then he closed with himself because he recognizes he’s the last judge because now Saul is the king.

Here’s what I would say to you about the last judge; the fulfillment of the prophet, priest, king and judge is Jesus Christ. Jesus is who we should be calling to right now. This is the kind of message we should be putting on our social media and telling to our children. As we go through these next few days, let’s stop fighting one another. Let’s cry out to the Lord and look for miracles to happen in our midst as we call on our Deliverer. How will you answer the second question? Have you cried out for God’s righteous deliverer? You’re on the witness stand, my friend. How do you answer the question?

Let’s continue reading through the rest of the chapter. Picking up now at chapter 12, verse 12.

1 Samuel 12:12-25 (ESV) 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 the right way. 24 Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. 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.”

They are told to stand still; don’t go anywhere because guess who’s in the dock now? Guess who’s in the dock now? It’s not Samuel. He’s been cleared. It’s not God, He’s been cleared. Now, you’re in the dock. Israel’s in the dock in this store. You’re in the dock. You’re the accused. Stand still while I talk to you. See this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. Don’t go anywhere. Here it comes. Is it not wheat harvest today? We’ll talk about that in a minute.That is significant.

Here’s the third question for us to consider as we come to the witness stand.

3. Will you repent and turn to God’s only Mediator?

Finally, Samuel puts Israel in the dock. Finally, he brings them to the dock and asks them to consider themselves.What is their decision considering themselves? Before he asks them he says, I’m gonna tell you some stuff that I see you did wrong. Let’s see what God thinks of it. He says to stand still and watch this. By the way, it is the wheat harvest. The wheat harvest took place during May and June. To this day, if you go to Israel during that time period, it’s the dry season. It’s not like here, in this area, where we try to have four seasons. We tend to have one really long summer, but it’s closer to four seasons. This idea of it not raining during certain times of the year, all the time, is kind of inconsistent here. But, in Israel during the time of wheat harvest, it didn’t rain, and if it did, it would ruin the crop because if the crop is cut down and it gets wet, it will rot and mildew, and then it becomes unusable.

Here’s what he says to him; let’s call on God. Here’s what I want to say to you. Listen to what he says to them. In verse 17, he says, “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.” Your wickedness is great; there’s been a lot of wickedness and idolatry. There’s been breaking of the commandments. But, it might just be that the worst sin that you’ve ever sinned is trying to sit on the throne yourself; by asking for a human king when the Lord is your king. You see, really, all other sins radiate out of that first one; when I say I will do it myself and I will be in charge of my own life. I don’t need the Lord. That is sin.

That’s the sin that Adam and Eve had; it’s the idea that they wanted to be like God and that they wanted to be in charge of their own life. That, he says, is the most wicked sin you have ever sinned. Your wickedness is great, now stand still, he says, and watch this and the Lord thunders at Samuel’s word. He calls upon the Lord.

The last time he got this crowd together was at Mizpah. They were having a revival. When Samuel prayed, they heard that the Philistines were coming, remember, and he prayed to the Lord to rescue them, and the Lord thundered and destroyed the Philistine army. Well, they’d seen this before. Just imagine how they felt when Samuel spoke and it thundered and rained during the dry season. They weren’t worried about their crops; they were worried about themselves. They said , the last time we saw this, a lot of people died. They heard the thunder and the scripture says, they were afraid of the Lord. They feared the Lord, and they feared Samuel.

You know, there’s a right fear and there’s a wrong fear. Does that make sense? There’s a fear that’s helpful. And then there’s a fear that’s not helpful and is not from the Lord. As we look at it here, it’s kind of interesting. He’d already told them earlier, we gave you a king and behold, there he stands. Then in verse 14 it says, but if you will fear the Lord and serve Him and obey His voice and not rebel. It will be well with you. Samuel says, you should fear the Lord. He’s not saying you should be afraid of the Lord.

There are two categories of people. There are people who have rejected the Lord as king, and then there are those people who should be afraid because they will encounter him as judge. If you are a believer, if you are following the Lord, if He is your God and He sits on the throne of your life, you should still fear him. But in a different way. You should fear His displeasure. You should sit in awe of Him. You should be in awe of His word and of the person of Jesus, who is the fullest revelation of God. The type of fear should take the form of respect to the ultimate degree and not that we fear His judgment, because we stand in Christ who has received the judgment in our place.

God poured out His judgment upon Jesus upon the cross. No wrath is left over for us but yet we are blown away by this and we tremble in fear because we see the result of our sin when we look at the cross. But the fear we have is not the fear of “I’m afraid of what God will do to me as a believer,” but the fear of “I don’t want to disappoint Him because of the great cost He has brought me out and made me righteous.”

But, the Israelites were afraid and Samuel says, do not fear. It says in verse 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. Then Samuel says to them, in verse 20, don’t be afraid.

There’s two types of fear. I have just listed the two types of fear. He told him to fear the Lord. Then, thunder and rain comes and it says they greatly feared the Lord. Then, Samuel says, Don’t be afraid. Here’s what Samuel is saying; You should be in awe of Him. You should so respect Him that you would never rebel from Him as king. You’ve sinned a great sin by trying to have a human king that stands in God’s place instead of having God as the One who sits on the throne of your heart. You sinned a great sin but don’t be afraid. He’s got a plan for you. He wants to rescue you from your own rebellion. This is what He wants to do. So the fear you have for God now that remains. He brings it up again at the end after he tells him not to fear.

Then he closes by reminding them to fear the Lord. Do not be afraid of him, but fear him, like one who highly respects Him and reveres Him. Have you repented? He says in verse 12, he starts off by saying, 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.” That’s the guy whose name actually in Hebrew means “serpent.” When you saw that serpent, you won’t give us a king. Well, the king was defeated. That’s just happened in the previous couple of chapters. It’s just happened. Saul was the one we anointed, Saul himself says it was the Lord. It was the Lord. You did this and the Lord did this.

Look at verse 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. He says fear the Lord, serve Him and obey His voice. Don’t rebel against His commandments. If both you and the king do this, it will go well. In other words, you got yourself a king. But He had better come under the Lord too. Because the Lord is the true king. Okay, I gave you a human king. You asked for it. It’s going to cause you trouble later. I warned you about that. But, the true King is saying that he better listen if he follows Me. This is kind of “writing on the wall,” if you will, because, as we continue in this chapter, we’ll see that Saul is actually who they asked for. His name means Sha’ul in Hebrew; it means “the one asked for.” You got what you asked for; you wanted to be like the nations. He starts off pretty good, but he doesn’t finish well. They didn’t finish well, and so he’s saying that the king had better obey God.

Samuel says, I’m not the judge anymore, but let me tell you how I’m gonna pray for you. Verse 20 says, 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. He has scared them to death and now he’s calming them down. He’s got their attention. And they say to him, pray for us, we’re going to die, you know, pray for us.

He 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, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. So, here’s what Samuel has reserved for himself; because I’ve anointed you a king, you wanted a king. I gave him to you. I’m not going to be your judge anymore. I’m not gonna be the one who represents God as your king and judge, but I’m going to keep praying for you and instructing you. In other words, I will continue as a priest and a prophet. I’m not giving those two jobs away; Saul gets to be king and judge. But I will continue to pray for you; I’m gonna keep on being the one who mediates. That’s what they ask for. In fact, if you look at this passage , they say, pray to the Lord, your God, because they’re afraid of Him. They’re afraid of God. Samuel will pray to the Lord your God, and when He talks back to me, He says you and your king better do what He says.

Samuel didn’t call Saul his king. His king is the Lord. I’m gonna pray for you and your king. And they say, will you pray to your God and you tell it that we don’t want to die? Samuel is the mediator. He’s gonna talk to the Lord on their behalf. He says, I’ll do it and I’m gonna tell you. I’m going to instruct you, what God tells me to tell you. That’s what a mediator does. He stands between; he stands between God and man. That’s what he does. He talks to God on our behalf. And then he speaks to us on God’s behalf.

This is what Christ is to us. Samuel is a picture here of the mediator Christ. Samuel agrees to this; he agrees to stand in the gap, if you will, between God and man. Notice what he says about God. Don’t miss this in verse 22. The people are pleading, pray to the Lord your God, for us, we don’t want to die. And he says, listen, if you’ll turn back to Him. I’m going to pray for you and just know this about the Lord, 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. Don’t miss that. He’s not saving you for you necessarily. Because sometimes you don’t deserve it. He’s saving you because He wants you. He’s doing it for His own name.

When He sent Jesus, He sent the ultimate picture, the ultimate revelation of Himself. If you call on the name of Jesus, He doesn’t save you for you. He saves you for the name of Jesus. And so the scripture says, anyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved. That’s the only name given under heaven and earth to be saved. Because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. Can you just get your arms around that for a second? It pleased the Lord to offer you Jesus so that you could be made right with Him again. It pleased the Lord to call you to be His people . It’s with great pleasure that He calls you His own when you received Christ as Lord and Savior.

Samuel is teaching us some principles; he’s applying it to his time period. When we carry this across the Bible Bridge into the present day, we see that Samuel is a picture of Christ the mediator. There’s a couple of interesting asides here before I close out this final place.

He says, don’t turn aside, in verse 21, after empty things that cannot profit or deliver. Listen, you can get all the cases of toilet paper you want, okay, but it will not deliver. I saw something on Facebook that basically said, “If you’re having the need for that much toilet paper, you’ve got a different kind of problem.” Okay, o don’t turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver.

A lot of us are looking at empty promises being made by men and by politicians. A lot of us are just scurrying in fear, looking at empty store counters and running over people . Church, I’m going to call you to a different way to live. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. Do you hear that? Of power. You have the strength to go through dark days of power and of love. You are to be the hands of Christ during this time, helping others and not stirring up trouble but calming people down and giving them the peace of the great mediator and deliverer, King Jesus.

This is an opportunity unlike any I’ve had. Perhaps as long as I’ve been alive, where there’s a whole nation that is struck with fear. We have Christ, let’s give them Christ. Let’s be the people of the Book. Let’s not go after empty things or be afraid. Let’s fear the Lord, but not fear the disease. Let’s fear the Lord, but not worry about the government or about the schools or about our jobs. These are all things under God. Lets fear the Lord. Don’t go after empty things and think this will rescue us.

He closes with verse 24 Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. Consider what great things he has done for you. He says, there is another choice; it depends on how you stand in the witness stand today, how you answer the three questions, because the other choices you can continue with yourself on the throne. You can continue in that manner. And if you do, Verse 25 says, “But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.” You shall be swept away. You shall be swept away because there is a place of eternal destination that God has set aside for those who reject His son, Jesus, it’s a place called hell. It’s a place of eternal existence, apart from God; a place of judgment.

I would say to you today, How would you answer these three questions? I will ask them again. Do you affirm the integrity of God’s judgment? Have you cried out for God’s righteous deliverer? And will you repent and turn to God’s only mediator?

1 Timothy 2:5 (ESV) For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Well, you repent and give your life to Him. He’s the great mediator. Today, we’ve been going through Chapter 12 and talking about what it must have felt like for them to be on the witness stand. Someday all of us will stand before a holy God. There will be a witness stand and no one can stand in it but you. It will be you answering the questions.

It says in Romans 14:10 (ESV) “… For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.” I think all means all, don’t you? Yet to all who have believed, the scripture teaches in Romans 8:1 (ESV) “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

What’s the answer that we would give a holy god if He said , Why should I let you into My heaven? There’s only one answer that will please the Lord, and that’s what have you done with Jesus. You should say, I’m a sinner, but I’ve been made righteous because I have believed in Christ.

Have you done that today? Let’s pray, Lord, I pray that our our listeners today would answer the three questions in the affirmative; that they recognize that You are the righteous judge, that You have given us the righteous deliverer and that when we repent and turn from our sins and turn from our desire to be in charge and we turn to Christ as mediator Lord, that we now have Jesus. We have him as our king as our as their prophet. As our high priest who goes between us and You making this right with You. I pray right now, is it you right now that I’m talking to? Have you received Jesus yet? Are you ready to today as you watch perhaps in your living room, Or perhaps sitting somewhere with your laptop and maybe you’re in a coffee shop. Maybe you’re in your bedroom sitting on the bed. I don’t know where you are, but the Lord is talking to you right where you are, right now. Would you pray with me, Dear Lord Jesus, I am a sinner. I’ve tried to be in charge of my own life, but I now I’m so tired. I’m so sick and tired of trying to manage and being in control. I’m covered, Lord with fear and broken relationships. But now, I turn my life over to You. Jesus, I believe you died on the cross for my sins and that You live today. Come and live in me and make me the person you want me to be. I want to be a child of God and I want you to be my Lord and Savior. If you’re praying that prayer right now, believing, He’s ready to save you. He’s ready to come into your life and make you a child of God. Others are here today and you’re listening to this message and you’re a believer . But you must confess that you’ve been having the wrong kind of fear. Instead of fearing God as the one that you believed to be in control and in charge and king of your life and of the world of the universe, you’ve been thinking that somebody else is in charge and you’ve been fearing the disease and fearing the economy and fearing who knows what. Would you, right now, repent of that fear? The scripture says, God has not given us that kind of fear. He’s not giving us a spirit of that kind of fear. But he has given this a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind. So would you repent now and let the spirit fill you with peace? We pray all this now in Jesus’ name and for His great name, Amen.