True Repentance

Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.

1 Samuel 7:1 (NIV)
So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord. They brought it to Abinadab’s house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the Lord.

1 Samuel 7:1 (MSG)
And they did. The men of Kiriath Jearim came and got the Chest of God and delivered it to the house of Abinadab on the hill. They ordained his son, Eleazar, to take responsibility for the Chest of God.
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“So the men of Kiriath-jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and they consecrated Eleazar his son to care for the ark of the Lord.” -AMPLIFIED

The Ark of God had returned to Israel, but we will see that the people of Israel had not wholly returned to God. Foolishly the people of Beth Shemesh had looked inside the Ark and God punished them for their disobedience and disrespect of Him. They in turn called on the men of Kiriath Jearim to come and take the Ark away; for they felt that it was too much for them to handle after their punishment.

The men of Kiriath Jearim gladly came and took the Ark of the Lord and carried it to Abinadab’s house which stood on a hill. Why they did not take it to the Tabernacle is not stated. They may have still been clinging to their superstitious ideas. They may have been thinking that if they had the Ark in their town they would be protected from their enemies or maybe God would bless them more. Maybe they thought they could harness the power that was attributed to the Ark. (Though the Ark had no power in and of itself; the power came from the Almighty One, God.)Suffice it to say they were still not following protocol.

Once again they failed to follow God’s ordinances and instead of calling the Levites to care for the Ark they ordained Abinadab’s son, Eleazar, to take over the care of the Ark. All of this shows that the people of Israel had still not yet come to the place where they were truly repentant; nor had they gotten their hearts right with God.

The following verses will inform us that it actually takes twenty long years before the people finally come to the place where they realized their separation from and their need of God. “Time passed, 20 years or so, from the time that the covenant chest was taken to Kiriath-jearim, and all the people of Israel began to grieve over their separation from the Eternal One.” -1 Samuel 7:2 (VOICE)

Twenty years too long, one would think. How hard-headed or hard hearted can you be? Before we are too quick to judge though; think of how long it has taken you to make things right with God sometimes.

Where was Samuel in those twenty long years? The Scripture is silent about what he was doing, but I am sure he was busy. Probably going from town to town speaking to the people; reminding them of their need to serve the Lord. We do finally see that he actually pin-pointed the Israelites sin and their need to correct it. “If you really want to totally devote yourselves and return to the Eternal One, then get rid of all the foreign gods and goddesses you have gathered. Devote yourselves to the Eternal, serve Him and Him alone, and He will save you from the oppression of the Philistines.” -1 Samuel 7:3 (VOICE)

“Hey, people” Samuel says, “If you really want to get right with God this is what you need to do. Get rid of all those fake, pagan, false gods that you have surrounded yourselves with and instead, return to the One, True God, Jehovah. It is only He who can save and protect you from your enemies.” -Tonia’s Translation

Twenty years the Israelites wondered why the Presence of the Lord had departed from them. Twenty years they mourned their sorry state, but in those twenty years they failed to make the connection of their disobedience to God and His missing presence. How very sad things had become. The Amplified Version tells us that the people lamented and grieved after God; yet they did not ever come to the place of true repentance until Samuel pointed out that they had not yet turned away from their sin. “…all the house of Israel lamented (wailed) and grieved after the Lord.” (verse 2)

It is not enough to be sorry for your sin. You also must be willing to turn away from that sin and turn back to God. Finally the people understood what they had been doing wrong. (After 20 long years.) “They did it. They got rid of the gods and goddesses, the images of Baal and Ashtoreth, and gave their exclusive attention and service to God.” -1 Samuel 7:4 (MSG)

Samuel pushed them to take it one step further though. “Next Samuel said, “Get everybody together at Mizpah and I’ll pray for you.” So everyone assembled at Mizpah. They drew water from the wells and poured it out before God in a ritual of cleansing. They fasted all day and prayed, “We have sinned against God.” So Samuel prepared the Israelites for holy war there at Mizpah.” -1 Samuel 7:5-6 (MSG)

All the people gather together at Mizpah. There Samuel would pray for them. There they would all be together gathered with one purpose to confess their sins and seek God’s forgiveness. We are told that they fasted and prayed all day long. This was a demonstration of their seriousness in turning back to God. They admitted to God and each other that they had sinned against God. They even drew water out of the wells there in Mizpah and poured them out before the Lord as a visual symbol of cleansing. (Those visible observances are good for us.)

Now we see the people were truly repentant. They were not just sorry for sinning; they had turned away from that sin and turned back to God. That is true repentance.

“Many mourn for their sins that do not truly repent of them, weep bitterly for them, and yet continue in love and league with them.” Matthew Henry

Because it has been so united with the devil it is vital for man to receive from God a change of mind before he can receive a new heart.” Watchman Nee

“If I close up the heavens and their rain and send any of the disasters you described—drought, locusts, pestilence—to ravish the land and people; and My people (who are known by My name) humbly pray, follow My commandments, and abandon any actions or thoughts that might lead to further sinning, then I shall hear their prayers from My house in heaven, I shall forgive their sins, and I shall save their land from the disasters.” -2 Chronicles 7:13-14 VOICE)

My Prayer:
Lord, I humbly come to you and ask that you show me any unconfessed sin in my life. I do not ever want to allow anything to come between you and me. I give myself wholly and completely to you. You are my God!

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