National Reformation

Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths 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.” So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.  And Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the LORD for you.” So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured it out before the LORD. And they fasted that day, and said there, “We have sinned against the LORD. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh” (1 Sam 7:3-6).

From Matthew Henry’s Commentary:

We may well wonder where Samuel was and what he was doing all this while, for we have not had him so much as named till now, since 1Sam 4:1. Not as if he was unconcerned, but his labors among his people are not mentioned till there appears the fruit of them. When he noticed that they began to lament after the Lord he struck while the iron was hot. Two things he endeavored to do for them, as a faithful servant of God and a faithful friend to the Israel of God. I believe the same is about to be done by the organizers of this program. We cannot afford but to join hands and hearts to pray.

I. Samuel endeavored to separate between them and their idols, for their reformation must begin.

He spoke to all the house of Israel (1Sam 7:3), going, as it should seem, from place to place, an itinerant preacher (for we find not that they were gathered together till 1Sam 7:5), and wherever he came this was his exhortation, “If you do indeed return to the Lord, as you seem inclined to do, by your lamentations for your departure from Him and His from you, then know:

1. That you must renounce and abandon your idols; put away the strange gods, for your God will admit no rival; put them away from you. Do what you can, in your places, to rid them out of the country. Put away Baalim, the strange gods, and Ashtaroth, the strange goddesses,” for such also they had. Ashtaroth is particularly named because it was the best-beloved idol, and that which they were most wedded to. Note, True repentance strikes at the darling sin, and will with a peculiar zeal and resolution put away that, the sin which most easily besets us.

2. “That you must make a solemn business of returning to God, and do it with a serious consideration and a steadfast resolution. We must note that both are included in preparing the heart, directing, disposing, establishing, the heart unto the Lord.

3. That you must be wholly for God, for Him and no other, serve Him only, else you do not serve Him at all.

4. That this is the only way and a sure way to prosperity and deliverance. Take this advice and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines; for it was because you forsook Him and served other gods that he delivered you into their hands.” This was the centre of Samuel’s preaching, and it had a wonderfully good effect (1Sam 7:4).

They decided to put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, not only quitted the worship of them, but destroyed their images, demolished their altars, and quite abandoned them. What have we to do any more with idols? Hos 14:8; Isa 30:22.

II. Samuel endeavoured to engage them for ever to God and his service.

Now that he had them in a good mind he did all he could to keep them in it.

1. He summons all Israel, at least by their elders, as their representatives, to meet him at Mizpeh (1Sam 7:5), and there he promises to pray for them. And it was worth while for them to come from the remotest part of the country to join with Samuel in seeking God’s favor.

Note, Ministers should pray for those to whom they preach and not only them but also pray for those in government authorities that God by his grace would make the preaching effectual. And, when we come together in religious assemblies, we must remember that it is as much our business there to join in public prayers as it is to hear a sermon. Samuel would pray for them that, by the grace of God, they might be parted from their idols, and that then, by the providence of God, they might be delivered from the Philistines.

2. They obeyed his summons, and not only come to the meeting, but conformed to the intentions of it, and appeared there very well disposed, 1Sam 7:6.

(a.) They drew water and poured it out before the Lord, signifying, [1.] Their humiliation and contrition for sin, owning themselves as water spilt upon the ground cannot be gathered up again (2Sam 14:14). [2.] Their earnest prayers and supplications to God for mercy. The soul is, in prayer, poured out before God, Psa 62:8. [3.] Their universal reformation; they thus expressed their willingness to part with all their sins, and to retain no more of the relish or savor of them than the vessel does of the water that is poured out of it. [4.] Some think it signifies their joy in the hope of God’s mercy, which Samuel had assured them of.

(b.) They fasted, abstained from food, afflicted their souls, so expressing repentance and exciting devotion.

(c.) They made a public confession: We have sinned against the Lord, so giving glory to God and taking shame to themselves. And, if we thus confess our sins, we shall find our God faithful and just to forgive us our sins.

3. Samuel judged them at that time in Mizpeh, that is, he assured them, in God’s name, of the pardon of their sins, upon their repentance, and that God was reconciled to them. It was a judgment of absolution.

The coming together of pastors to seek the face of God in prayer in July 2011 is timely. I commend the organizers of this program and encourage all pastors and families to join and mobilize others to do same. If we will come, humble ourselves and pray. God will surely answer and He will heal our land.

Rev. Dr John U. Onyeanusi

Pastor, Nassarawa Kaduna Assemblies of God, Nigeria

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