As the sun breaks through the clouds, or peaks over the morning horizon at dawn, there seems to be a flickering spark of hope in the nation of Israel. For twenty years and seven months, the sacrifices and ritual Jewish observances had been interrupted. Shilo, and the tabernacle in that place had been destroyed.
Twenty years after the Ark had been taken to Kiriath-jearim. The Bible says that “the whole house of Israel longed for the Lord.” (1 Samuel 7:2). Samuel told them, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, get rid of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths that are among you, dedicate yourselves to the Lord, and worship only him. Then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” (1 Samuel 7:3).
Samuel’s words brought hope to Israel by bringing Israel back to the Lord. Repentance and obedience, and revival brought victory ands freedom. The mighty deliverance from the Philistines came about only after Israel repented and turned wholeheartedly back to God. The movement of Israel’s heart, not the return of the Ark, brought about true freedom from Israel’s Philistine tormentors.
By purging themselves of the foreign gods and pagan practices was the negative side of Israel’s spiritual renewal. A positive side also was needed. The Israelites had to “dedicate [them]selves to the Lord, and worship only Him.” As they got rid of their idols and embraced the Lord wholeheartedly, they could expect the promised benefits of a right relationship with the Lord, one of which was victory over enemies.