THE KING’S BUSINESS
but narrow as Samuel was, he was right. “And He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines ." Jehovah only could de liver them out of the hand of the Philis tines; there was no hope from any other quarter; that Israel had learned by twenty years of bitter experience. But He could and He would when they put away their sin, turned to Him, prepared their hearts to serve Him and actually did serve Him only. If we do these things, we, too, will get de liverance from all our enemies, but we can get it in no other way. v. 4. “Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtoroth, and served the LORD only.” It is very cheering to see how promptly and heartily the people re sponded to Samuel’s call to repentance. It was a genuine revival. But though genuine, the reformation was not very permanent (1 Sam. 8:8). Reformations in human soci ety never are very permanent. No matter how great and thorough-going a revival, there always needs to be another before many years are past. But some day Israel will have a reformation that will prove to be lasting (Rom. 11:26). v. 5. “And Samuel said, Gather all Is rael to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD." Doubtless Samuel had been praying for them in secret; now he could pray with them in public, because they were right with God. There is no use trying to have a day of prayer with people until they put away their sins and their idols, and when they do that, praying is the very thing to dp. This was a great national day of prayer and one that had real significance and meaning. It was really a day of prayer, utterly different from the so-called day of prayer recently appointed among us. In verses 5-9 .we see Samuel principally as a man of prayer. The fact that he had tjeen a child of prayer prepared him to be a man of prayer (cf. ch. 1:27). Samuel’s chief distinction in God’s sight was that he was a mighty man of prayer (Ps. 99:6; Jer. 15:1). We usually think of Samuel as a type of Christ as a prophet but here we see him as a true type of Christ as an intercessor (cf.
waiting.” He at once declared, not to a select few, but to “all the house of Israel” the one sure and only way of deliverance. That way was, “return unto the Lord with all your hearts” (cf. Hosea 6:1). There is no other way of deliverance for anyone who is in bondage and misery, but that way of deliverance is sure. But a true return to the LORD involves something else, the putting away of all other gods. The trouble with many today is that they wish to return unto the Lord but also wish to keep their “strange gods.” They wish to serve Mam mon, the god of wealth and Venus the the goddess of pleasure, along with the Lord, but no man can serve two masters (Matt. 6 :24). It must either be all Jehovah or all the world. The trouble with much of our Church life today is that we are trying to serve God and the world at the same time. The “Ashtoroth” (plural of “Ashtoreth” cf. 1 Kings 11 :S) were figures of Ashtoreth the Phoenician goddess, the Astarte of the Greeks, one of the vilest goddesses of all mythology. She was a frequent object of adoration on the part of Israel in the times of their wanderings from God (Judges 10: 6; 1 Sam. 12: 10; 31:10; 1 Kings 11 :S, 33; 2 Kings 23:13; Jer. 44:18, 19). Putting away all idols and all sin is always the first' step in genuine repentance toward God (Isa. 55:7). But it was not enough to put away the strange gods, they must “prepare (their) hearts unto Jehovah, and serve Him only.” Acceptable service of Jehovah demands heart preparation. It is a matter of heart more than the outward conduct (Prov. 4: 23; Rom. 10:9, 10), and the heart cannot be kept right without giving thought to it and seeing that it. is fitted for the service of God. The words “serve Him only” should be deeply pondered. When Israel took to Baal worship and Ashtaroth worship, they had no intention of giving up Jehovah wor ship, they sought to combine the two. They were liberals in their theology and were devising a “federation of religions” (cf. Matt. 6:24; 1 John 2:15; James 4:4). Samuel, on his part, was very narrow, “Jehovah only” was his watchword,
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