Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the Lord; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” So the Israelites got rid of their images of Baal and Ashtoreth and worshiped only the Lord.
Then Samuel told them, “Gather all of Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” So they gathered at Mizpah and, in a great ceremony, drew water from a well and poured it out before the Lord. They also went without food all day and confessed that they had sinned against the Lord. (It was at Mizpah that Samuel became Israel’s judge.)
(1 Samuel 7:3-6)
Samuel became the last in the long line of Israel’s judges (leaders), a line that began when Israel first conquered the Promised Land. A judge was both a political and a religious leader. God was Israel’s true leader, while the judge was to be God’s spokesman to the people and administrator of justice throughout the land. While some of Israel’s judges relied more on their own judgment than on God’s, Samuel’s obedience and dedication to God made him one of the greatest judges in Israel’s history.
Samuel urged the Israelites to get rid of their foreign gods. They could easily pledge allegiance to God, but discarding their images would show that they were “really serious.”
Idols today are much more subtle than gods of wood and stone, but they are just as dangerous. Whatever holds first place in our lives or controls us is our god. Money, success, material goods, pride, or anything else can be an idol if it takes the place of God in our lives. The Lord alone is worthy of our service and worship, and we must let nothing rival him.
If you have “foreign gods,” ask God to help you dethrone them, making the true God your first priority. Pray that you can become like Samuel, who lived a life in obedience to God.