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At Niagara Falls, former Moody Bible Institute president Dr. George Sweeting once watched seagulls riding down the river feeding on fish. As they came to the brink of the falls, the gulls’ wings would spread and they would escape from falling over the edge. But he saw one gull get so engrossed eating a fish, that when it came to the edge of the falls, its wings went out but it had delayed too long. Its claws were frozen to the ice. It plunged into the abyss. God’s servant Samuel urged his people to turn to God before it was too late. He came on the scene at a low point in the nation’s history. Eli and his sons had degraded the priesthood, the Philistines were oppressing the people, and there was little evidence of God’s presence and blessings. We read in 1 Sam. 7, “Samuel said to all the people of Israel, ‘If you are really serious about returning to the LORD, get rid of your foreign gods. Determine to obey only the LORD; then he will rescue you from the Philistines. So the Israelites got rid of their images.’ … Then Samuel told them, ‘Gather all of Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the LORD for you.’” Samuel was the nation’s intercessor with God. He gave them God’s word; he led them in worship, and he prayed for God’s protection. Repentance, genuine worship, and obedience to God’s word are what we need to keep us from falling into the spiritual abyss.

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