1 Samuel 12:20,24 - 20 Samuel said to the people, "Do not fear. You have committed all this evil, yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart... 24 Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you."
You see, Israel had judges who oversaw them, kind of like pastors for us today. God was their "king." Yet, they were unhappy because everyone else had a physical king and they wanted to be like everyone else. God relented and gave them what they wanted (though He definitely knew better...) by placing Saul in the position of king. This is the evil that Samuel is referring to.
Even though they had committed such an atrosity and gone against God's better judgment, He was willing to look past it - "...what was past God would pass by, provided they would be obedient in the future" (Clarke). As long as they would fear (or revere) God and serve Him in truth with ALL of their hearts, He would forgive them and not forsake them.
The same is true for us today! God will look past what is in the past so long as we are obedient in the future. Samuel lays out 3 simple things we must do in order to be forgiven and accepted as God's people:
- Fear the Lord - Again, to fear the Lord is more of a reverence - "reverential trust with hatred of evil" (Scofield). We must trust Him and hate evil. If we hate evil does that not mean we avoid it at all cost? What exactly is evil? The Hebrew word, ra' can be translated as "displeasing" meaning that we should hate (and avoid) anything that is displeasing to the Lord (Strong's H7451).
- Serve Him in truth - Truth is defined in the Hebrew as "firmness, faithfulness, truth." If I were to tell you to be faithful to your spouse, though would mean to not cheat, to have eyes for your spouse and only your spouse. The same goes with the Lord. We are to be faithful to Him, we should have eyes for Him and only Him.
- Serve Him with all of your heart - God asks for nothing less than ALL of you. Yeah, it is pretty intense. But so is His love and His mercy and His power...I could go on and on. To give Him all of me is a small sacrifice to make for all that I get in return. When we serve the Lord (which should be in all that we do) it should be 100%, not 25% or 70%...not even 99%...but 100%.
Clarke puts it a bit more simply: - "Act towards your God as an affectionate child should act towards a tender and loving parent." But regardless of how simply you look at it, if we do these 3 things (and truthfully, it is hard to have one and not the others), God will forgive our past and accept us.
I challenge you today to give 100%, to be faithful, and to hate the things that displease God. As the old saying goes, "It couldn't hurt."