What is the Most Underrated Advice in the Bible? #237

Hello friends and happy Thursday to you! Weird and wacky times for us here in Central California. There are fires raging everywhere around us – thanks to a lightning storm with lots of lightning and hardly any rain – and there is smoke ash and haze everywhere. Going outside is crazy, because the sun doesn’t look like it should – it looks like a smallish pink/orange ball in the sky. It’s honestly weird to look at, and the pictures below don’t do it justice. Please pray for us that we would have rain and grace and a relief from these fires!

Our Big Bible question today is a bit click-baity, but accurate. I don’t suppose I could prove that 1 Samuel 12:24-25 is the most underrated advice in the Bible, but it is excellent and you rarely hear it mentioned – at least, I have rarely heard it quoted in my lifetime. Maybe you go to First Baptist Church of 1 Samuel 12:24-25 in Dirt Dauber, Mississippi, but I just haven’t heard it much. Let’s go read the passage and then discuss it. By the way, sharp-eared listeners will note that yesterday, for the first time ever on the pod (236 episodes), I forgot to read the focus passage along with the big Bible question. My superiors have placed a written reprimand in my file, given me a verbal demerit, and reduced my pay for the next three episodes. Alas. I hope to not make such an egregious mistake again!

I love the ‘above all’ passages in the Bible. This is a signal to us that something is unusually important. It’s all important, but – there are some things that are extremely important – something Jesus demonstrated for us when He told us the first and second commandment. Here are a few of the ‘above all’ passages in the Bible:

  • Above all, be strong and very courageous to observe carefully the whole instruction my servant Moses commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right or the left, so that you will have success wherever you go. Joshua 1:7
  • Above all, may the Lord give you insight and understanding when he puts you in charge of Israel so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. 1 Chronicles 22:12
  • Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life. Proverbs 4:23
  • Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3:14
  • Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath. But let your “yes” mean “yes,” and your “no” mean “no,” so that you won’t fall under judgment. James 5:12
  • Above all, maintain constant love for one another, since love covers a multitude of sins 1 Peter 5:8
  • Above all, you know this: No prophecy of Scripture comes from the prophet’s own interpretation 21 because no prophecy ever came by the will of man; instead, men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20-21
  • 3 Above all, be aware of this: Scoffers will come in the last days scoffing and following their own evil desires, saying, “Where is his ‘coming’ that he promised? Ever since our ancestors fell asleep, all things continue as they have been since the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3-4 

The interesting one to me there is the James ‘do not swear,’ passage, and I think it is interesting because I don’t realize how important integrity is to God, and I’ve grown up in a culture of casual-liars – people who don’t take seriously swearing at all. (I mean, we even have pinky-swears) vowing, swearing and covenants are far more serious in the Bible than what the average Westerner might think. But that is not our topic today.

Our topic is Samuel’s “above all” ending to his last public speech. Let’s break it down into its parts:

24 Above all, fear the Lord and worship him faithfully with all your heart; consider the great things he has done for you. 25 However, if you continue to do what is evil, both you and your king will be swept away.” 1 Samuel 12:24-25

  1. Fear the Lord  – The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of WISDOM (“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his instructions have good insight. His praise endures forever.”) Psalms 111:10 AND Knowledge (“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.”)  (Proverbs 1:7)  Walking in the fear of the Lord will prolong your life (“The fear of the Lord prolongs life, but the years of the wicked are cut short.” Proverbs 10:27 AND Proverbs 14:27 “The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning people away from the snares of death.” AND Proverbs 19:23, “The fear of the Lord leads to life; one will sleep at night without danger.”)  Finally, the fear of the Lord is a source of confidence and protection for your family, (“In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence and his children have a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26)
  2. Worship Him faithfully with all your heart. This is almost certainly a rephrasing of the first and Greatest commandment – (“Teacher, which command in the law is the greatest?”37 He said to him, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. 38 This is the greatest and most important command.“) Matthew 22:36-37) Samuel adds ‘faithfully,’ which shows the importance of not just engaging in occasional worship, or only worshipping God when convenient, or during times of trouble, but regularly, often and for a long term.
  3. Consider the great things he has done for you. This is so important – both for the Jews and for Christians today. God has been good to us – so good to us, but our minds are not like steel traps, and we too often forget, and sort of get into a ‘what have you done for me lately?’ mode. Over and over in Scripture God and His prophets, teachers and leaders exhort the people of God to remember and remind themselves of all of the wonderful things God has done. Remembering and considering was the basis of the Passover, which was probably the most significant holy day practiced by the Jewish people (“Then Moses said to the people, “Remember this day when you came out of Egypt, out of the place of slavery, for the Lord brought you out of here by the strength of his hand. Nothing leavened may be eaten.” Exodus 13:3) The lack of remembering and considering the great deeds of the Lord led Israel to downfall after downfall during the period of the Judges. (“The Israelites did not remember the Lord their God who had rescued them from the hand of the enemies around them.” Judges 8:4) Over and over the Psalms, in worship, remind us to remember and consider the great acts and deeds of the Lord, (“Remember the wondrous works he has done,
    his wonders, and the judgments he has pronounced, you offspring of Abraham his servant, Jacob’s descendants—his chosen ones.” Psalms 105:5-6)   Remembering and considering the great things God has done for us is the heart and soul of Psalms 103 and several other Psalms:

    My soul, bless the Lord,
    and do not forget all his benefits. He forgives all your iniquity; he heals all your diseases. He redeems your life from the Pit; he crowns you with faithful love and compassion. He satisfies you with good things;your youth is renewed like the eagle. (Psalms 103:3-5) 

One more time – let’s read through Samuel’s closing finale. This is a great verse to memorize and meditate on!

24 Above all, fear the Lord and worship him faithfully with all your heart; consider the great things he has done for you. 25 However, if you continue to do what is evil, both you and your king will be swept away.” 1 Samuel 12:24-25

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