Like sheep, Israel was prone to wander from the Lord. A neighbor’s god seems to bless them and so Israel turns to the neighbor’s god. A neighboring people finds success so Israel tries out the country’s god. Over time Israel is worshipping this god and that god and maybe the Lord alongside of those other gods.
When the Lord returns the Ark, Israel turned back to the Lord. So Samuel said to all the Israelites, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only (2b-4).
Samuel understood that fidelity to the Lord was the foundation for the nation. The Lord was their strength, their protection, their wisdom, their everything. When Israel trusted the Lord they prospered. When they followed the Lord’s direction they prospered. When they went their own way and adopted other gods they faulted.
Over and over again God welcomes them back when they repent.
As I considered this chapter I realized Israel’s story is my story. I, too, drift from the Lord. It is not so much that I out and out turn my back on the Lord, but I drift. I start to trust my intuition rather than rely of the Lord and His wisdom. Then God gets my attention and as soon as I turn back to Him He welcomes me and calls me to deeper fidelity.
Samuel knows that fidelity to the Lord is the KEY ingredient for a faithful Israel so at the first sign of returning to the Lord he declares what they all need to do.
Samuel’s role causes me to ask, “Who speaks truth into my life… into your life?”
Sheep need a shepherd. We all need someone who can speak truth into our lives, like Samuel did for Israel.
Oh, Lord, continue to provide voices who can speak Your truth into my life. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.