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In 1 Samuel 12:6-18, Samuel outlines to the people of Israel their checkered history of following the God who chose them and rescued them. The retelling largely contains rebellion and idolatry on Israel’s part, including their most recent mistake – requesting that they have a king to rule over them. The people rightly despair at their sin (v. 19). However, Samuel’s response is probably not what they were expecting:
“Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet, do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with 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 pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.” (1 Samuel 12:20-22)
God, through his chosen prophet, offers grace in face of sin. He offers covenant-faithfulness in the face of unfaithfulness. This is the character of our God and his relationship to his people. Samuel does go on to urge them to serve the Lord faithfully (v. 24), and to warn them of the punishment to come if they fail (v. 25). Even so, what a beautiful expression these verses contain of the grace and covenant love that rises within the heart of our Lord, even in the face of our sin.