God is not a lucky charm, nor will he be manipulated by mankind, but that is exactly how Israel wanted to treat him. They thought God was a wee rabbit’s foot hanging from their key ring.
1 Sam 4.3 “And when the troops came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.” So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. As soon as the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded.”
The lucky charm had arrived and Israel thought they were invincible. Well, clearly they weren’t, and they thought God had let them down. So what do they do when they get the ark back (Ch 5-6)? They said (Ch 8), “God didn’t work, so let us have a king like the other nations. Maybe he will be a lucky charm that will better work for us.”
The people of Israel didn’t need a lucky charm, and neither do we. The people of Israel didn’t need a God they could manipulate for their own ends, and neither do we.
It’s not a lucky charm that we offer to people in Christ and in the gospel because just like the people of Israel, they’ll throw it out once life gets ugly and hard. No, we have a message of forgiveness and true life that transcends the difficulties of this life. It’s not a lucky charm we point people to, but a sovereign God.
You see, the people of Israel didn’t want God; they just wanted the things God would give them. And how easily we treat God the same way. God wants us to desire him for himself, not the things he can give. When we desire God only for the things he can give, we make him into an idol giver. Desire God. Desire Christ. Sing with the hymnists, “Give me Jesus,” and “Christ, or else I die.”