In chapter 7, we see echoes of the book of Judges. Hear again we see the cycle of idolatry, oppression, repentance, strong leadership of a judge, and then peace.
Ever play with MadLibs, the crazy fill-in-the-blank game? Sometimes we can do that with the Bible. For example:
If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the __(Idol #1)___ and the __(Idol #2)__ from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of __(Enemies/Oppression)___.
Think about it a minute. There’s cause and effect at work here, according to Samuel’s words to Israel. The direct result of idolatry is oppression. I think “addiction” is just the modern American euphemism for idolatry as the Old Testament people knew it.
So go ahead fill in the blanks. Maybe the idols/addictions are people-pleasing, porn, pride, perfectionism. Maybe it doesn’t start with a “p”. Maybe it’s body image. And maybe the enemies/oppression is depression. Maybe fear.
The big thing, according to Samuel, is that repentance is bigger than lip service. It’s bigger than running down to an altar and saying a prayer. It’s bigger than saying “I’m sorry.”
It requires dropping some things.
It requires a 180-turn.
It requires a change in behavior.
In chapter 8, we begin the major plot point of 1 & 2 Samuel: Israel and her king.
And here we get echoes of stories previously told. C.S. Lewis writes in the The Great Divorce, “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.'”
This is the story of Exodus 20:18–21 where the people can have the voice of God but choose Moses as a go-between instead. This is the story in 1 Samuel 7.
We want it our way.
Yeah, maybe there’s something deep about human nature there.
What about you? What do you see?