When people feel guilty because of their sins (evil deeds), that feeling does not give them a right relationship with God. People often confess their sins because they are afraid of Godís judgements. However, the desire to avoid punishment cannot itself create a right relationship with God.
In this passage, the peopleís sin was to demand a king for their nation. They did that because they were unwilling to trust God. They did not want to accept Godís rule over their lives. When God then allowed a storm to ruin their crops, they were very afraid. They realised that their sin deserved a much worse punishment. They urged Samuel to pray that God would not deal with them as his enemies.
In his reply, Samuel explained how they could have a right relationship with God. His advice was the same advice that he had always given to them (7:3). They must serve God with their whole hearts. In other words, they should obey God because they love him. Both their attitudes and their actions should express their love for God (Deuteronomy 6:5; Mark 12:29-30).
The people in Israel served false gods for the same reason as they wanted a king. They wanted to have someone or something powerful that would help them. They were unwilling to trust God alone. They still desired Godís help; however, it seemed safer to have many gods than to have just one God.
In the real Godís opinion, that behaviour is not sensible; it is very foolish. He alone created the heavens and the earth; people should serve him alone. So in Godís opinion, when his people do those wrong things, they are not loyal to him.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.