1 Samuel 7:3 - 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.”
Samuel spoke to Israel and gave four steps which would result in God’s deliverance from the Philistines.
Step 1: Return to the Lord with all your heart.
To return somewhere means you have left it at some point. Samuel instructs them to return or turn back to the Lord, but he doesn’t leave it there. They must return with all their heart. It’s one thing to do something because you have been told to, but to do it with all your heart signifies a commitment of everything within you.
We may not think we have turned away from the Lord, but are we following Him with all our heart? What this looks like for me is immersion in God’ Word. The Bible says men’s hearts are wicked. Some translations say sick. When I immerse myself in God’s word, it heals my heart.
Step 2: Put away foreign gods
Okay, you might say, I don’t serve a foreign god. But a foreign god is whatever keeps us from His word. It could be the TV, social media (surely not Facebook), or work. It could be an unhealthy dose of politics or even, shhhh, religion itself. If it keeps me from immersing myself in His word, it’s a foreign god. Samuel says to put it away. Leave it.
Step 3: Prepare your hearts for the Lord
When I prepare my heart for the Lord, I fix my gaze on Him. For me it’s time alone in prayer and studying His word. When I prepare my heart, I have to do more than read a passage. I have to study it, know it, and sometimes even memorize it (gasp). I need to take time to pray and listen for His voice.
Step 4: Serve Him only
Well, you might ask, who else would I serve?
Do I serve my desires before His? Am I selfish? Do I love the way His word tells me to love? For me, serving Him only means acting on what His word says and what He shows me as I study.
Four steps, and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines. Who are the Philistines in our lives? They are whatever has power over us that keeps us from our relationship with the Lord.
Four steps and He will deliver, rescue, or snatch me away from the power of whatever has me in bondage. I have areas in my life which seem to have power over me, but God promises deliverance. He will snatch me away from these places when I return to Him with all my heart, immersing myself in His word; put away whatever keeps me from His word; prepare my heart through prayer and study of His word; and serve Him exclusively by acting on His word.
Do you need deliverance? Start by studying 1 Samuel 7:3. It starts with His words.