Now Samuel was serving as leader of Israel at Mizpah. (1 Samuel 7:6b NIV)
It seems strange: the answers God offers for our problems. I have problems with money? “Come home to Me,” God says. My marriage is on the rocks. “Come home to Me,” is still the answer. My children are rebellious. “Come home to Me.” My parents don’t understand. “Come home to Me.” I’m hungry, homeless, in prison for my actions. “Come home to Me.”
The Israelites finally realized that their best battle plan was not strategy. It was not to try and manipulate God into doing their bidding. Their best strategy in the war against the Philistines was to come home to the LORD. That’s exactly what they did.
When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. (1 Samuel 7:7 NIV)
Coming home to God can be scary, especially when we’ve been away for awhile. The Israelites had been worshipping the LORD along side of other gods like the Baals and Ashtoreth. Now, they were putting away the other gods and worshipping the LORD God alone.
This was new territory for this generation of Israelites. God was unseen. The Philistines, however, were very real and right there. Their fear was not of the Philistines as much as it was of God. Their only hope in battle, now was the LORD. If the LORD God does not accept them back , welcome them home, and protect them against their enemies; they are lost. They want the LORD to be their King, but is it too late?
They said to Samuel, "Do not stop crying out to the LORD our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines." Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. He cried out to the LORD on Israel's behalf, and the LORD answered him. (1 Samuel 7:8-9 NIV)
How about you? Do you fear coming back to the LORD? Are you afraid God will not take you back? Have you been away for too long? Have you done too much against the LORD? Or, do you trust that the King receives followers back again?