Summary: Samuel was a "father figure" to Israel and many of the traits he exhibited here in chapter 12 give us examples of what good fathers do.
ILLUS: One father had a three-year-old daughter who was having trouble sleeping through the night. She’d often wake up several times in the night because she was afraid. Each time as he re-tucked her into bed, he would remind her that Jesus was with her and he would keep her safe.
Several nights in a row, she did this over and over again.
Finally, one night, the dad asked her if she had prayed to Jesus to take her fear away and help her fall asleep.
"Oh, yes," she assured him. "I prayed to Jesus… and He told me to come and get you!"
ILLUS: I read another true story about a little girl who was frightened by a fierce thunderstorm. She cried out in fear and her father rushed to her bedside. As he held her in his arms, he explained that she didn’t need to fear. God would take care of her because He loved her greatly.
"I know God will take care of me and love me," she replied. "But right now, Daddy, I want someone with skin on."
APPLY: Each of those kids was afraid.
And each of them sought comfort from their fathers.
In our lives, there are many times when we’re afraid.
1. We’re afraid because we’re in trouble.
2. Afraid because we’re being threatened.
3. Afraid because we’re about to lose something we care about.
And sometimes we become afraid because we know we’ve done something wrong and we’re pretty sure we’re going to be punished for it. It’s at time like that when we most need a “father” figure to step into our lives and help us. Protect us. Because intuitively, everyone understands that the father of a family should protect us when we’re afraid.
In our story today we find that the people of Israel have become afraid.
They’ve sinned against God.
They sinned because - without asking for God’s permission or approval - they decided to reject Samuel as their leader and they demanded a King just like all the other nations had.
They’d rejected Samuel as their leader.
But even more, they’d rejected God.
So Samuel rebukes the people and at Samuel’s request God sends a powerful storm filled with thunder, lightning and rain.
The people heard Samuel’s words of rebuke.
And they saw the God’s power to punish.
And they begged Samuel to pray for them.
1 Samuel 12:19 tells us “The people all said to Samuel, ‘Pray to the LORD your God for your servants so that we will not die, for we have added to all our other sins the evil of asking for a king.’”
And, in the midst of their fear Samuel reassures them that he WILL pray for them. And not only does he vow to pray for them but he does several things that day that a Father would do for his children.
Actually, Samuel had always been a father figure to Israel.
One of the basic responsibilities for a loving father is to be the disciplinarian.
Hebrews 12:9 tells us “…we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it.”
Samuel was a judge for Israel.
He had to set the standards for God’s people and sometimes his judgments concerned things the people didn’t want to hear. For example, when Samuel went to Bethlehem to anoint David the next king of Israel 1 Samuel 16:4 says that:
“When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, "Do you come in peace?"
Just like a child that’s done something wrong just before Dad comes home the elders at Bethlehem were afraid that Samuel knew something they’d done wrong and had come to punish them.
Good loving fathers set the standard of right and wrong in their homes and they are willing to be the “bad guys” if they need to be because the future of their children can depend upon their decisions – not just for this life, but also for eternity.
ILLUS: A study was done about 10 years ago– and it found that conservative Christian parents whose parenting style could be described as “authoritarian” raised some of the most well-adjusted kids.
A researcher named Wilcox examined data from the National Survey of Families and Households discovered that the homes of conservative religious parents were “characterized both by strict discipline and an unusually warm and expressive style of parent-child interaction.”
He found that most conservative religious parents were “authoritative,” which he described as having “consistent and firm discipline as well as high levels of warmth and parental responsiveness.”
In other words: the dads in these homes set a firm pattern for what was/was not acceptable, and they were more involved in their children’s lives.
“The American Enterprise magazine (11-12/99)