REPENTANCE EQUALS RENEWAL
7. When the Philistine rulers heard that Israel had gathered at Mizpah, they mobilized their army and advanced. The Israelites were badly frightened when they learned that the Philistines were approaching.
8. “Don’t stop pleading with the LORD our God to save us from the Philistines!” they begged Samuel.
1 Samuel 7: 7–8 NLT
As I read Today’s Passage, I have to confess that I had fully intended to single out Verse seven to make a specific point for Today’s Lesson. However, I concluded that if I continued to do only one Verse per Post, The Story of Samuel could take quite a while to complete, especially considering that it is covered in two books.
That said, I still saw a specific issue that I wanted to emphasize, so instead of forcing it, let’s take our time and take it as it comes. The Israelites have just heard God’s Word, delivered by young adult Samuel as he judges The Lord’s Chosen people.
He points out their sins which had grown and festered in the twenty years The Ark of The Covenant was absent from the Tabernacle. In that span, the immorality Eli’s sons ushered in as corrupt leaders worsened. The people graduated from simply ignoring the priest’s depravity to following it and from modeling that behavior to engaging in their own iniquity.
So, Samuel’s accusations were both timely and necessary. But that is not where Today’s Lesson is coming from. Yes, the Israelites repented when God Called them out, and Samuel, finally a decent leader, interceded to God on their behalf. If not for his intervention, the Israelites would have been doomed.
But thankfully, they were not so far gone that when God pointed out their transgressions, the people balked and refused to acquiesce. They recognized the danger in their actions and immediately repented their sins. Then, Samuel, being the leader God needed, conducted the duties of both a priest and judge, altering their fate.
But Today’s Lesson is not about the Children of Israel’s reaction to Samuel’s Judgment but about The Philistine’s response to their repentance and renewal. What happened the moment The Philistines found out the Israelites were returning to God?
The Philistines sent their army to attack the Israelites to mitigate whatever Blessings Samuel prayed for. Apparently, in the twenty years since their last victory over their historical enemies, they’d forgotten what happened the last time they tangled with God.
The Philistines wished to keep the Israelites under their thumbs, never permitting them to prosper as long as it was in their power to do so. Today’s Lesson is that when you try and repent, the second you choose to turn around and return to Christ, you should expect opposition!
The enemy does not want to relinquish any territory he’s won through deception or battle. Period. If he has planted a flag in your spirit, there is no way he’s simply conferring it all back. When you turn away from your sins, be prepared to have the devil try to turn you right back around like a dog returning to his vomit.
But Today’s Lesson is not one of negativity because it has a Second clause. When they saw The Philistines arrayed against them, the Israelites pleaded with Samuel to continue to pray for them so that the enemy attack would not overcome them. Please tell me you caught that!
Today’s Lesson comes from Verse eight, which shows us how to react when the enemy comes against us in that manner, and for us, as Christians, this part gets pretty exciting! The repentant Israelites recognized the danger they were in and asked for their leader to intervene with God on their behalf.
The repented Israelites were asking for protection in a vulnerable state because they knew they were doomed if they were attacked without God’s Protection. When you are weak and vulnerable, and your self-discipline is in question, the only place to go to prevent a return to the same dark, downward-facing road is God.
But unlike the Israelites in Samuel’s day, we can go directly to The Source! No longer do we have to endure the indignity of public confession, though there is something to be said about accountability. Because of God’s Sacrifice on The Cross, we have access to Him immediately and wherever we find the strength to resist our wills.
Jesus changed the dynamic so that we could have access to Salvation without the proxy of a human priest to navigate. God has called us all to repentance and has made it inordinately easy to achieve. All we have to do is repent, turn away from our sins, and commit to another path, The Proper Path. Then God will restore us to our inheritance, won by His shed Blood. There is no greater Love than that, and we have no Greater Privilege than the Mercy of a Gracious God.
Have a Wonder-Inducing Wednesday And Never Forget What Your Freedom Costs, Especially If You Just Intend To Throw It Away!