Duties of Ministers and People
1 Samuel 12:23
Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you…


1. With respect to the ministers of God. Samuel, the prophet of the Lord, considering the state of the people, exclaimed, "God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way." To a similar effect the apostle declared, "We will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the Word." These are the peculiar duties of the ministers of God, — prayer, and the ministry of the Word. Sweet is the work to those who know it, delightful is the duty of intercessory prayer. Of all those men of God whose histories are recorded in Holy Scripture, there is not one who did not delight in this duty.

2. The ministry of the Word: "I will teach you the good and the right way" So said the inspired prophet Samuel; so said a long line of faithful men of God, many of whom sealed their testimony with their blood; so said the apostles of Jesus Christ; and so say the ministers of God to this day. And is there presumption or affectation in saying, "We will teach you the good and the right way?" It would indeed be presumption if we conceived that we had chalked out that way for ourselves, or if it were the notions of man we had to teach you; but we know the good and the right way, and are able to testify to you that which we have seen, and that which we have believed. Revelation has taught us, and we know there is but one way, one good way, one true way; and that all other ways lead to the chambers of darkness and despair. And if these are our duties, what are yours? Mark the exhortation of the prophet in the text, "Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart." This brief sentence contains the whole duty of man! "Only fear the Lord," said he to the tumultuous people; we stop to inculcate no other principle; if we gain your heart, we gain the whole man; we know all must follow; we know that the man who fears God has the grand principle of moral duty in him. If he wants the fear of God, he wants everything! he wants the cement of social society, that which binds man to man, which gives peace and comfort him, and gilds the grave itself with hope. This is the standing or falling principle, "Only fear the Lord;" then your conscience shall be enlightened by the Spirit of God, your heart shall bend to the will of God. The noble testimony of Joseph's steward, to the trembling brethren is our guarantee, "I fear God!" Such a man will be a lover of justice, a lover of truth, and of everything that is honourable and of good report; whereas all others are as garnished sepulchres — they have sweet words in their mouths, but war in their hearts. Here is our security and our comfort; "only fear God." The other expressions in the text are but expletives of this duty: "Only fear the Lord, and serve Him." If a man fears God, he will be the servant of God, and he will serve Him in prayer and praise; he will serve Him with the best member that he has, with his body, soul, and spirit, consecrating all he has to His glory, not with hypocrisy, but "in truth."

II. Let us then CONSIDER THE INSPIRING MOTIVE WHICH IS IMPLIED IN THE TEXT, FOR THE CHEERFUL DISCHARGE OF THESE DUTIES. Ofttimes the strongest appeal to the feelings and the affection is contained in one short sentence, or a suggestion conveyed by a single word; thus in the text: "Consider how great things the Lord hath done for you!" Now, let me transfer this appeal to you; let me apply it to your hearts and consciences as a motive; and I know of no stronger; if this fail, the treasury of God Himself is exhausted! He asks you to love Him, to fear and serve Him; and He does not place before you the terrors of hell, nor the fearful things of judgment to come, nor a world in flames; nor does He upbraid you by the stings of a guilty conscience; but He appeals to your love and affection! and He says, "Consider how great things the Lord hath done for you!" Hard must be that man's heart, ungrateful his bosom, who can look back over a whole life and not see one trace of the goodness of God, who can discern no token of Divine love, no sweet things mingled with his bitterness, nothing to allay his afflictions. Think of the spiritual mercies also which you have received at his hands. There are very few who are altogether unconscious of God's mercies to them in this respect. But the argument of Samuel on this occasion was a national argument: his exhortation was a national exhortation; and, therefore, I shall avail myself of it, and consider the words of the text in this point of view applicable to us all as a nation. "Consider, I pray you, how great things the Lord hath done for you." And is it, possible that anyone can be so ignorant or so wilfully blind as to deny that there has been a special providence over Great Britain, and that special mercies have been poured down on her? Has not our little island been floating on a see of mercy?

(F. Clogs, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:

WEB: Moreover as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against Yahweh in ceasing to pray for you: but I will instruct you in the good and the right way.

Ceasing to Pray for Others is a Sin Against the Lord
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