In today’s reading we see that the ark of the Lord is now returned to Israel’s possession from the Philistines who had stolen it away after defeating Israel in chapter 4. The Israelites take the ark to Kiriath-jearim where it stays for twenty years; and for twenty years, the scriptures tell us, they lamented after the Lord! Lament literally means to “wail and go mourning after.” Israel was clearly broken over their idolatrous sin against the Lord and they were grieving it. Not only that, Israel’s prophet and leader Samuel hadn’t been heard from for twenty years either! Those twenty years must have been grueling. It must have seemed as if God had finally turned His back on His people forever because of their sin. As I thought about this, I wondered why God would allow them to mourn their sin for twenty years. It seems a bit excessive doesn’t it? While it may seem absolutely excessive in our minds, it was absolutely necessary for Israel to feel the weight of their sin against God in order for them to repent and turn back to Him. God does not take sin of any kind lightly, and part of seeking repentance from God includes the illumination of your need for God because of your sin. Without God allowing Israel to grieve their sin adequately, they may have never turned back to God in repentance. This was certainly a gracious gift from the Lord.
In His perfect timing we see that God does reveal Himself to His people again. He sends His prophet Samuel to make intercession for Israel by crying out to the Lord and making a burnt offering for the atonement of the idolatrous sins of the people (v.8-9). Then the Lord delivers Israel from the hands of their enemies and restores His people back to a right standing with Him. What a gracious gift from the Lord!
Not only is today’s passage an amazing picture of how God restored Israel; it is also a foreshadowing of how God restores men back to Himself today through the gospel of Jesus. The sin in our lives grieves God desperately because it separates us from Him. It is the Holy Spirit that convicts us of that sin and leads our hearts to mourn that sin so that our hearts will be led to repentance. Today, it is not a prophet, priest, or any other man that makes intercession for our sins to be forgiven, it is Christ. Jesus Christ was the perfect lamb that was slain to take away the sins of the world for all time, and it is His atonement that rescues and restores us back to a right relationship with God. What a gracious gift from the Lord!
Have you received the gracious gift of salvation available to you through placing your faith in Jesus?
Is there sin in your life that you have been grieving for a long time that you need to repent of and allow Jesus to restore you?
Spend time today praising the Lord for His grace in your life.
By: Matt Mofield