God Wants To Be The Ultimate Authority In Our Lives
God promises us His blessing and protection when we believe in Him, and place Him in the highest position of authority in our lives. However, this life is not so simple, as we are traversing a world that is constantly trying to replace Him--and, majority of the time, the world succeeds. When we make other people/ideas/material things/political parties (etc.) the kings of our lives, we reject the authority of God over ourselves--we seek something that fulfills our own agenda, and allows us to feel comfortable in the world of our own making, rather than trust in God’s way.
This was the case for the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, and we see the root of their problem stemming from a people who consistently turn away from God. The nation of Israel was the nation determined by God--according to the Tanakh (Old Testament)--who would be the inheritors of the promises given to Abraham (back in Genesis). It was through Israel that God’s Blessing would come--the blessing that is Jesus, who fulfills the promises God had given to Abraham, and brings it to the entire world.
1) Return to the Lord with all your heart
We see a continual pattern throughout the Old Testament of God blessing His people, but then those same people turning away from Him and growing distant in their hearts. This brings us to 1 Samuel chapters 7 and 8. Chapter seven begins with the people of Israel being in a state of fear towards the Philistines (a sea-faring enemy; a constant nuisance and danger to Israel), who had defeated their entire army in a recent battle. It was in this defeated setting that the prophet Samuel spoke to them and said, “If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths [Canaanite goddesses] from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” (1 Samuel 7:3).
After Samuel speaks this, we see the people of Israel actually turn and serve only the Lord once again. Following this, Samuel tells the people of Israel to gather into a place called Mizpah, where he would pray for them. And once they were gathered in Mizpah, the Philistines saw their opportunity to destroy the Israelites, and went to do so. In this setting, the Israelites are quite terrified--understandably so--and say to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” (1 Samuel 7:8). Samuel