Many years ago I met Charles “Tremendous” Jones, the man who came up with the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid principle). I’ve found that to be good advice. We preachers tend to cloud the issues with too much verbiage. However, as I read 1 Samuel 12:22-24 it seems to me that the prophet Samuel already knew about this principle.
Samuel was “old and grayheaded”(1 Samuel 12:2) when he gathered the people of Israel for a session of instructions before turning them over to their new king. Samuel had been a great man and witnessed a great many things. He had seen nations rise and fall. He had experienced God in his life in ways few others have. His love for Israel was deep, his devotion was strong, and his heart was full. He had a message burning in his heart that literally meant life or death for his people. His message was serious and he knew it was important to keep it simple.
He wasn’t there to entertain them, nor to brag about himself, nor even to give them something new. His task was to simply remind them of something they already knew. In vs. 24 he mentions two commands that should never be forgotten or lightly esteemed–“Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart–“.
First, they are told to fear the LORD. He knew very well that their insistence for a king was a departure from God, their true King, and disrespectful to God. Were they to “Fear the LORD” they wouldn’t walk in the ways of the world. No commandment is more basic, fundamental, and helpful than this. Without a fear of God they were in grave danger–so are we! As Solomon said,”Fear God, and keep his commandments; for this is the whole duty of man.”(Ecc. 12:13). Those who don’t are headed for trouble of the most serious sort.
Second, they were told to faithfully “serve him in truth with all your heart”. He knew that they had tendency to serve other gods, a propensity to sin. He knew that they were often confused about their priorities and that their national existence depended on their allegiance to the One and Only True and Living God.
Even so, our survival, national or otherwise, depends on our willingness to fear God and faithfully discharge our duties. When we allow other things to come between us and God we will suffer for it. Even sinless things can become sinful when they distract us and hinder us from fulfilling our God-given duties. Unless He has first place in our life things are out of place, and we are the worse for it.
Two plain and simple commands–“fear the LORD, and serve him”, but oh so much depends on it. So, how is your personal relationship with God? Have you made Him your first love, top priority, and reason for living?