Serving the Lord Only
1Sam. 7:2 ¶ From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years,
and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.
(Then all the people of Israel turned back to the Lord. - NIV)
1Sam. 7:3 ¶ Then Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Astartes from among you. Direct your heart to the LORD, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.”
1Sam. 7:4 So Israel put away the Baals and the Astartes, and they served the LORD only.
The Israelites had not been serving God. They had allowed the worship of other gods to infiltrate their lives and they had suffered the consequences. Finally the ark of the covenant was back with them and they were seeking the LORD. The NRSV says that they “lamented after the LORD.” The NIV says that they “turned back to the Lord.” They were willing to confess their sin and their guilt for not worshiping the LORD and put away their foreign gods and committed themselves to serving the LORD only.
Samuel was calling the people back to serving the LORD only, for they had polluted themselves with the things of the world, having been led astray by the sons of Eli, the priests. The corruption of the nation and unfaithfulness to God had crept into the very highest ranks of society.
Sadly they had suffered at the hand of their enemy and they realized that they had forgotten their first love. They had forgotten their covenant and they had strayed from the Shema; “Hear Oh Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.” They had given themselves to the worship of other gods. Enough was enough. Faithful living came from faithful commitment. Everything else had to be put aside and the people lamented after the LORD — realizing and confessing their unfaithfulness. It was time to get back to serving the LORD only.
There can be nothing half-hearted about our Christian walk. The Israelites had tried that out and had failed miserably.
They tried to serve the LORD and other gods at the same time.
I’m afraid that many who call themselves Christians today may do the same thing. They put on the outward coverings of being followers of Jesus Christ while at the same time inviting other gods into their lives. These may be the gods of family, time, money, or even religion. Anything that becomes more important than the LORD is a distraction to serving him only, no matter how good it may appear on the surface.
We may use the excuse of religion, or being religious as a barrier to our personal relationship with Christ. The trappings of religion and trying to “do it right” may actually keep us from serving the Lord only.
We are called to a deeper walk with Jesus Christ — one in which we discover what it means to give everything over to him. There can no longer be a half-hearted commitment, but there must be a repentance, a lament, a return to loving the Lord our God with all of our being. Only in this way will we be able to serve him only.
Lord, may you lead me every day into that singular love and focus on you. Amen.