VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN LIVING:
Overwhelmed and Defeated? Try the ‘Samuel Solution’
Life has always been filled with challenges. Handled correctly, they can leverage you to a better place. Handled unwisely, the demotion can be swift.
What about when the enemies and problems proliferate? Like the ‘verbal bombs’ of the culture war, the spread of violent jihadism, and rise in temperature at global ‘hot spots?’ Why are once great nations being humbled by a much smaller enemy in this asymmetrical war? When the troubles, pressures, and the enemy comes in like a flood (Isaiah 59:19), what do you do?
For the God-fearer, the question should be: Is there a Word from the LORD?
Short Answer: Yes! It’s the ‘Samuel Solution’
Solomon wisely observed that there is ‘nothing new under the sun’ (Ecclesiastes 1:9). What we see in our day has a parallel in Biblical history.
During the time of Samuel, the last judge of Israel, there was great distress in the land. Their sworn-enemy, the Philistines, was winning victory after victory. In one particular incident, they came to Shiloh, their ancient capital where the tabernacle stood. They stole the Ark of the Covenant, destroyed the city, and brought a great slaughter to Israel. Eli the Priest and his sons Hophni and Phinehas were all slain. It was like Armageddon.
Eventually, in their darkest hour, a chastened Israel came to seek counsel from Samuel, the man of God. They looked for, and received, a ‘word from the Lord.’ A couple of powerful insights came from this encounter.
Samuel’s First Principle - Backsliding: The reason Israel was defeated by the Philistines was not because of the strength of the enemy but by the backsliding of the people. God gave generous promises of protection but if the people were unfaithful to the LORD, His protective hand would be withdrawn. In Deuteronomy 28:25 (NKJV), failure to obey the voice of the LORD your God, would bring humiliating results with the enemy.
The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them; and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth.
Again and again, we learn it is not the strength of the enemy but the strength of our sin that will defeat us.
Samuel’s Second Principle - Revival: There is a promise and prospect of deliverance and victory. The key to this is found in I Samuel 7:3. Samuel told a humbled Israel:
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.
Can it be any simpler? Deliverance and victory come by doing the following:
1. Return to the LORD with all your hearts;
2. Put away (get rid of) the false gods and unclean things among you;
3. Prepare your hearts for the LORD;
4. Serve the LORD only.
Do these simple principles (even a child can understand them) and God promises to deliver you from the ‘hand of the Philistines.’ You will go from being ‘overwhelmed’ to being an ‘overcomer.’
How did Israel respond to Samuel? They immediately got rid of the Baals and Ashtoreths and served the LORD only (I Samuel 7:4).
Then Samuel called all Israel for prayer at Mizpeh. When the Philistines heard it, they came rushing toward them like a flood. The people of Israel began to panic and said to Samuel to cry out to the LORD to save them. God heard the prayer of Samuel - and noted the repentance of Israel - sent a loud thunder upon the Philistines and they were overcome.
Samuel took a stone and called it ‘EBENEZER,’ meaning ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us.’
Israelite cities which had been taken by the Philistines were restored. Please note I Samuel 7:13:
So the Philistines were subdued, and they did not come anymore into the territory of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.
Repentance, fruit of repentance (put away the false gods), returning to God, and prayer, are part of the Biblical prescription for deliverance from enemies. It is called ‘revival.’ Note that as long as Samuel was the judge, the Philistines - Israel’s relentless enemy - no longer came into their territory.
Today, we need Godly leadership which will position God’s people into a state of blessing and protection, while keeping the enemy at bay: humble-servant leaders, not lordship leaders; shepherds, not CEOs; saints, not superstars.
The problems of the western world will not be solved by national elections, government funding, or trendy ideologies. Only by employing the ‘Samuel Solution’ - prayer for a Holy Spirit revival - with exemplary leadership, will turn the tide. God will hear our prayer, forgive our sin, and heal our land (II Chronicles 7:14).