1 Samuel 12 & Romans 10

1 Samuel 12

    And Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have obeyed your voice in all that you have said to me and have made a king over you. And now, behold, the king walks before you, and I am old and gray; and behold, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my youth until this day. Here I am; testify against me before the LORD and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you.” They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man's hand.” And he said to them, “The LORD is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they said, “He is witness.”

    And Samuel said to the people, “The LORD is witness, who appointed Moses and Aaron and brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt. Now therefore stand still that I may plead with you before the LORD concerning all the righteous deeds of the LORD that he performed for you and for your fathers. When Jacob went into Egypt, and the Egyptians oppressed them, then your fathers cried out to the LORD and the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. But they forgot the LORD their God. And he sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab. And they fought against them. And they cried out to the LORD and said, ‘We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD and have served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. But now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, that we may serve you.’ And the LORD sent Jerubbaal and Barak and Jephthah and Samuel and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and you lived in safety. And when you saw that Nahash the king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the LORD your God was your king. And now behold the king whom you have chosen, for whom you have asked; behold, the LORD has set a king over you. If you will fear the LORD and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God, it will be well. But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king. Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the LORD will do before your eyes. Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the LORD, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking for yourselves a king.” So Samuel called upon the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel.

    And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.” And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the LORD will not forsake his people, for his great name's sake, because it has pleased the LORD to make you a people for himself. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

(1 Samuel 12 ESV)

Romans 10

    Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

    For Moses writes about the righteousness that is based on the law, that the person who does the commandments shall live by them. But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

    How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

    But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for

    “Their voice has gone out to all the earth,
        and their words to the ends of the world.”
    
        But I ask, did Israel not understand? First Moses says,

    “I will make you jealous of those who are not a nation;
        with a foolish nation I will make you angry.”
    
        Then Isaiah is so bold as to say,

    “I have been found by those who did not seek me;
        I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
    
        But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”

(Romans 10 ESV)

Something to Consider

Romans 10: As the apostle Paul pointed out at the end of chapter nine, Israel has stumbled in unbelief over the “stumbling stone” which is the gospel concerning the cross of Christ. To begin chapter ten, Paul states his concern for Israel. He understands their sincerity and zeal for God but hurts for them because they are sincerely mistaken concerning the way of salvation. As those who have devoted their whole lives to achieving and obtaining righteousness through their own striving and effort, they have rejected the terms of salvation offered in the gospel.

The great tragedy of the Israelites is that they recognize the necessity of  righteousness in order to stand in the presence of God, but they are mistaken on how to obtain that righteousness. It should be stated that this is not an error exclusive to the Israelites. People of all religions and even professing Christians tragically have fallen into this temptation as well. However, trusting in our ability to obtain righteousness is an outright rejection of what Christ has accomplished. Sincerity in religious practice doesn’t grant anyone salvation. Christ is the end of any pursuit for righteousness. Justification comes only through faith in what He has accomplished. 

In chapter nine, the apostle communicates how salvation is entirely accomplished by God and comes according to God's plan. This plan is the plan to save ‘some’ out of all His creation that have fallen and stand condemned. God has planned to save ‘some’. Here in chapter ten, the apostle communicates how man is saved and why the Israelites are held responsible for their condemnation. Paul takes time here to revisit the doctrine of justification through faith alone.

Why would Paul take the time to explain again the doctrine of justification through faith alone in his argument concerning Israel? He’s already provided a theological exposition of this doctrine throughout the first four chapters of his letter so why bring it up again?

Well, here he brings up this crucial doctrine with more of a pastoral purpose than a theological one. The apostle has a great burden and concern for Israel. He cares for them like a loving shepherd cares for his sheep or like a loving parent cares for his children. Justification by God’s grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone is the hinge on which everything turns. It needs to be emphasized and revisited. The righteousness that Israel has so desperately pursued is being offered on the table right in front of them, and they’re missing it. Paul has to bring it up again.     

It should not be overlooked at this point that the apostle understood God’s sovereign plan to only choose ‘some’ for salvation, and yet he continued to pray and desire for Israel to be saved. It’s not our role to reconcile God’s sovereign election and the power of prayer. We are to pray because we’ve been told and taught by God through Scripture to pray. We are to believe in His sovereign election and at the same time pray for the salvation of others without full understanding as to how they are reconciled in God’s plan and purposes.