Indeed, for the sake of His great name the LORD will not abandon His people, because He was pleased to make you His own.
1 Samuel 12:8-12. (GILGAL.)
1. THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD (ver. 8). "It hath pleased the Lord to make you his people" (ver. 22). Of his own free and gracious will, always founded in perfect wisdom, he raises up a people from the lowest condition, confers upon them special blessings and privileges, and exalts them to the most eminent place among the nations of the earth (Deuteronomy 32:8; Acts 17:26, 27). As it was with Israel, so has it been with other peoples. His right so to deal with men cannot be questioned, his power therein is manifested, his undeserved goodness should be acknowledged, and the gifts bestowed employed not for selfish ends, but for his glory and the welfare of mankind.
II. THE SINFULNESS OF MEN. "They forgat the Lord their God" (ver. 9). So constantly and universally have men departed from God and goodness as to make it evident that there is in human nature an inherited tendency to sin. "It is that tendency to sinful passions or unlawful propensities which is perceived in man whenever objects of desire are placed before him, and laws laid upon him." As often as God in his great goodness has exalted him to honour, so often has he fallen away from his service; and left to himself, without the continual help of Divine grace, his course is downward. "In times past the Divine nature flourished in men, but at length, being mixed with mortal custom, it fell into ruin; hence an inundation of evils in the race" (Plato. See other testimonies quoted by Bushnell in 'Nature and the Supernatural'). "There is nothing in the whole earth that does not prove either the misery of man or the compassion of God; either his powerlessness without, or his power with God" (Pascal).
III. THE CERTAINTY OF RETRIBUTION. "He sold them into the hand of Sisera," etc. (ver. 9).
"The sword of Heaven is not in haste to smite,
IV. THE BENEFICENCE OF SUFFERING. "And they cried unto the Lord, and said, We have sinned," etc. (ver. 10). Underneath what is in itself an evil, and a result of the violation of law, physical or moral, there is ever working a Divine power which makes it the means of convincing men of sin, turning them from it, and improving their character and condition. A state of deepest humiliation often precedes one of highest honour. It is only those who refuse to submit to discipline (Job 36:10) and harden themselves in iniquity that sink into hopeless ruin.
V. THE EFFICACY OF PRAYER. "And the Lord sent...and delivered you," etc. (ver. 11). "Then they cried unto the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses" (Psalm 107:6, 13, 19, 28). As it was with Israel throughout their history, so has it been with others, even those who have had but little knowledge of "the Hearer of prayer."
"In even savage bosoms
VI. THE PREVALENCE OF MEDIATION. "Then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron" (ver. 8). "And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel" (ver. 11). He sent help by men specially raised up and appointed, and deliverance came through their labours, conflicts, and sufferings. One people also has been often made the medium of blessing to others. And herein we see a shadowing forth of the work of the great Mediator and Deliverer, and (in an inferior manner) of his people on behalf of the world.
VII. THE INCREASE OF RESPONSIBILITY on the part of those who have had the experience of former generations to profit by, and who have received higher privileges than they (vers. 12, 19). "Now all these things were written for our admonition," etc. (1 Corinthians 10:11). "Two things we ought to learn from history: one, that we are not in ourselves superior to our fathers; another, that we are shamefully and monstrously inferior to them if we do not advance beyond them" (Froude). - D.
For the Lord will not forsake His people.I. LET US CONSIDER HOW GOD HAS MADE OUR NATION HIS PECULIAR PEOPLE.
1. It hath pleased the Lord to separate us in a peculiar manner from other nations.
2. It hath pleased the Lord to make us the objects of His peculiar care and protection. Thus He distinguished His ancient chosen people.
3. The Lord has been pleased to form us for His peculiar service, by making us, from the beginning, a religious people.
II. TO SHOW WHAT GROUND WE HAVE TO HOPE THAT GOD WILL NOT FORSAKE US. It appears from the preceding observations, that He has done a good deal to form us for Himself. Can we suppose that He would spend so much time and employ so many means to make us His peculiar people, without some wise and weighty reasons.
1. God will not forsake us because He loved and respected our fathers. As the effectual, fervent prayers of such righteous men must have been pleasing to God, so they give us ground to hope that He will long remember our land, and not forsake the children of those whom He delighted to love.
2. We are encouraged to hope that God will not forsake us, because He loves the pious posterity of our pious ancestors. God often spared the whole Jewish nation for the sake of those pious individuals who remained heartily attached to His cause and His interest. And as long as a succession of these godly men shall remain, we have reason to hope that the Lord will spare us from national ruin.
3. We may confidently hope not to be forsaken by God, because He may still answer very important purposes, by preserving and treating us as His peculiar people. One end may be, to make it appear to the world that He is able to protect a nation whom He has set apart for Himself, against their most, powerful and subtile enemies.
III. LET ME NOW APPLY THIS LEADING SENTIMENT AGREEABLY TO THE DESIGN OF THE DAY, AND THE PRESENT STATE OF OUR RELIGION AND GOVERNMENT.
1. If God will continue to own us as His peculiar people, then we may confide in His wisdom and goodness, to defeat the designs of those, who attempt to destroy our national peace and prosperity.
2. If God will not forsake us, then He will enlarge us, and make us an exceedingly great and flourishing nation.
3. If God will not forsake us, but own us as His peculiar people, then it is to be expected that He will take effectual care to maintain the cause of religion among us. This will be necessary to promote our prosperity, and to prepare us to answer His chief design in making us His peculiar people. The cause of religion is now in a languishing state. Notwithstanding, therefore, the present triumph of vice and infidelity, we may confidently hope that our churches will live, increase, and flourish, till the end of time. This God will do for us, for His great name's sake.
4. If God intends to own and build us up as His favourite people, then He has much for us to do, in carrying into execution His gracious designs. This is probably the last peculiar people which He means to form, and the last great empire which He means to erect, before the kingdoms of this world are absorbed in the kingdom of Christ. God is now loudly proclaiming that we have much to do to maintain His cause, and promote His designs, in opposition to His and our enemies.
5. This subject teaches us how we ought to feel and to act in our present situation. Our feelings and conduct ought to be in conformity with the past and present dispensations of Divine providence towards us.
(N. Emmons, D. D.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
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