Focal Passages: 1 Samuel
We are bombarded with
alarming news every day — the economy is faltering, jobs are scarce, food
prices are going up, there is unrest around the world, and no one has an
answer. Life does bring challenges and tribulations, but will we have the
courage to seek and rely on God? We are not the first generation to face such
trials; our passage this week details a revival that began to take place in the
lives of the people of Israel and how they were able to seek the Lord, get rid
of their false gods, and dedicate themselves only to the one true God.
Our Bible study picks up 20
years after the Ark of the Covenant was captured (and returned) by the
Philistines. Samuel begins to lead the Israelites as their judge. During the
previous 20 years, the people of Israel had fallen back into worshiping false
gods as well as keeping lip service to the Lord, but something begins to
change, and a spirit of revival begins to take hold across the nation. Samuel
leads the people in returning to the Lord with all of their hearts, ridding the
land of their false gods, and dedicating themselves to the Lord. As a revival
begins, the Philistines decide that this is a good time to march toward Israel.
Of course, fear strikes in the hearts of the Israelites as a result of this
impending danger. We are so similar to the people of Israel when we are faced
with challenges. Just when we begin to grow closer to God, we allow other
things in our lives to creep in and shake our very foundations. Samuel does not
falter; he cries out to the Lord on behalf of the people of Israel, even in the
midst of a terrible threat, and God listens. God moves the Philistines into
total confusion so that they flee the land.
There are a number of things
that we can learn from this passage and apply to use in our lives:
- God wants us; He wants
100 percent of us. God was not willing to share His people with false gods, and
He feels the same about us today. We must put away anything that comes between
us and God.
- The people of Israel
rededicated their lives to God with repentance, confession of sins, and a
commitment to God. We need to do the same thing with Jesus Christ as our focus.
- When trials came to the
people of God in the form of the encroaching Philistines, the people cried out
for God to protect them. Trials and tribulations are a constant occurrence in
our lives. We need to rely on God to take care of us.
Samuel’s words to the people
of Israel remind us that a relationship with God is founded on a decision to
give our hearts to God and to trust Him with all we are.