Many of our problems arise when we forget to remember.
As the prophet Samuel thought he was drawing toward the end of his time of ministry and prepared to bid farewell to Israel, he wanted the people to consider how immensely good God had been to them. (Samuel would, as it turned out, have many more years of ministry ahead, as God called him first to warn and then to pronounce judgment on King Saul.) God’s grace and provision had been revealed to Israel over and over—and yet, though they had been warned on a couple of occasions, “Take care lest you forget the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 8:11), they had turned their back on Him, revealing their fickleness. In fact, throughout the generations of the judges, of whom Samuel was the last, Israel “forgot the LORD their God” and instead served false gods (Judges 3:7).
Years later, the Preacher of Ecclesiastes would write, “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth” (Ecclesiastes 12:1). This means more than remembering that there is a Creator. It means to dwell upon the very “Godness” of God. The Israelites failed to remember Him; in fact, they chose to forget, for it was inconvenient for them to consider God in all His holiness and all His might. And Samuel’s message in response was essentially this: You’re not thinking!
But even though the people forsook Him and forgot His righteous deeds, God didn’t abandon them. He never does abandon His own. Every time, in His mercy, He showed Himself to be righteous in His dealings and gracious in His salvation of and patience with His people.
We must be careful not to judge the Israelites too harshly. God has been abundantly gracious to us as well—and, at times, we also have chosen to forget Him. Whenever we deviate from the narrow path, whenever we seek to slip out from underneath our almighty King’s jurisdiction, we are failing to remember who God is and what He has done for us: that He has buried us in baptism and raised us to newness of life (Romans 6:4).
If you are in Christ, you are no longer the person you once were. You have been made a member of a people who will last forever. So when you face temptation, stop for a moment and remember your Creator. Contemplate the goodness and holiness of God, both in history and in your own experience, and thank Him for His abounding mercy as He deals with you. Don’t forget to remember.
7And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They forgot the Lord their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth. 8Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he sold them into the hand of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia. And the people of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. 9But when the people of Israel cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the people of Israel, who saved them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. 10The Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he judged Israel. He went out to war, and the Lord gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand. And his hand prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim. 11So the land had rest forty years. Then Othniel the son of Kenaz died.
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