“…and Samuel cried to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him.” 1st Samuel 7:9b
We find ourselves these days in the midst of a hotly contested battle for who will become the next President of the United States. Needless to say this is a crucial time in America, and whoever is chosen faces an overwhelming task in leading this nation to where it needs to be in the sight of God!
That was also the case in ancient Israel after the death of Eli the high priest. At that time Samuel became their unquestioned leader. The nation had become embroiled in idolatry and accompanying immorality that extended into the priesthood (the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phineas, who also died). How would Samuel react? What should he say? What should he do? It is to his everlasting credit that he did not appoint a focus group to study the problem and bring recommendations! Neither did he attempt to create a new strategy, or establish a new paradigm. Rather, he looked to the timeless, matchless Word of God, and declared the first order of business was for the people to repent (vv2-4).
The word repent is a familiar, but largely misunderstood word by believers today. It was the first message that Jesus preached in His public ministry. It literally means, “To have another mind.” It means a change of mind that brings about a change of behavior and attitude. That change is seen in the pouring out of water and the fasting in vv5-6 which is symbolic of rejecting the self-reliance and self-rule that resulted in God’s people straying from the Lord. The request for Samuel to cry out to the Lord speaks of a return to entire reliance on the Lord (vv7-8).
The future looks dim for America. We seem to be headed downhill at an ever-increasing rate, morally, economically, even militarily. The only hope for America is to put aside self-reliance and self-rule and return to entire reliance on the Lord. In the midst of a growing number of voices questioning whether there is a willingness, much less an ability to do so, we need to listen to the word from the pen of David in Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Except the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain!”