"21 You must not turn aside, for then you would go after futile things which can not profit or deliver, because they are futile. 22 For the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the Lord has been pleased 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; but I will instruct you in the good and right way. 24 Only [i]fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, both you and your king will be swept away.”
I Samuel 12:21-25
Well you guessed it, I am a few weeks into a new study - this particular one begins with the period immediately following the period of Judges and continues through the life of David. This particular passage is Samuel talking to Israel after they rejected God as their king and demanded a human king like every other nation. The issue was not simply wanting or needing a king, but rejecting God as their king. You know I used to be quite the judgmental snob towards Israel, but the more I study the Old Testament and the more of this life I live, the more I relate to the people of Israel. Which is typically the exact moment when I find myself acutely aware of both the grace God gives us each day and the need to submit to His authority in my life.
I think I identify so well with the Israelites because like them, I need these reminders "not to turn aside." And then because I am that girl - I read scripture and then have this scene in my head. This time, it's as though I am supposed to be listening to someone but I am distracted instead, and He snaps His fingers in front of my face and says, "focus!" Immediately I snap to attention as though He is the King and I am the lowly peasant. He continues, "remember the Lord who is great and mighty, and remember what you are to be fighting for" (Nehemiah 4:14) because we must never forget, He is our King and this life is a fight!
It is so very simple to get distracted and to "turn aside." Most of the time the distractions are not necessarily sinful things in and of themselves. These activities become sinful when I place them where only God should be. Still other times, it is not an activity at all, but an attitude towards things. I begin working and desiring things instead of God - does that make sense? The verse in Romans 12 that speaks of being transformed by the renewing of our minds means so much more in the light of this - so much of this battle is mental. We need grace everyday, and we need His word like we need physical nourishment - every day, three times a day sometimes.
I am immensely grateful and blessed that He does not abandon His people but gives us these "focus" reminders!