false gods, true blessing
The stuff of life has a way of turning our hearts away from God. False gods include money, success, school, careers, romantic relationships, children, and more. Tim Keller, in Counterfeit Gods, defines a false god this way: “Anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.”
In 1 Samuel we find the Israelites falling away from God as they fell for false gods (7:1-3). After tasting defeat at the hands of the dreaded Philistines and subsequently enduring deadly divine punishment due to disobedience, the people felt distant from Him (4:1-2, 6:19 . They cried out, “Who is able to stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God?” (v.20).
Much like the way we think and sometimes behave when we’re feeling weak or insecure, the people turned to false gods to try to fill the spiritual hole in their heart. We might seek material things, achievements, or sex to make us feel better. But nothing will satisfy our deep desire and need for God.
Samuel the prophet made it clear that the Israelites had been looking for hope and meaning in all the wrong places. He said to the people, “If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods . . . . Determine to obey only the Lord” (7:3). Fortunately, they got rid of their false gods (v.4).
The end result? Out of obedience flowed blessing—the Israelites were able to defeat the Philistines in battle (v.10). The One true God conquered a people who worshiped false gods.
What are the false gods in your life? Turn them over to God as you seek Him and His blessing alone. —Tom Felten
1 Samuel 7:3-13
If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your . . . gods (v.3).
Read Isaiah 43:10 and note what God says about Himself and false idols.
When are you most prone to seek false gods? Why can they never satisfy your deepest needs?