1 Samuel 7
-The men of Kiriath-jearim came and took the Ark of the LORD bringing it into the house of Abinadab, who lived on a hill. They consecrated his son, Eleazar, to keep the Ark. It remained there for a long time, 20 years in fact, while all of Israel “lamented after the LORD.” Their lamentation no doubt was due to the 50,000 plus people that had lost their lives from looking in the Ark illegally (1 Samuel 6:19-20; 7:1-2).
-Then, the prophet Samuel re-enters the scene. He speaks to the house of Israel, “If you return to the LORD with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your hearts to the LORD and serve Him alone; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:3).” The sons of Israel responded positively to this directive by removing all the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the pagan gods of the region, from among their midst. They indeed “served the LORD alone.” After this, Samuel directed them to gather all Israel to Mizpah, which was northeast of Kiriath-jearim and close to Ramah in the central hill country. There Samuel would pray for them. So, they gathered and drew water and poured it out before the LORD, and fasted in repentance for their sin that day. Thus, Samuel judged Israel at Mizpah with a holy righteousness and Godly love (1 Samuel 7:4-6).
-When the lords of the Philistines heard what was going on at Mizpah, they went up against their Israelite counterparts. Israel, the Bible claims, was afraid and pleaded with their prophet, Samuel, to keep praying to the LORD God without ceasing in intercession. This was the right heart. They desired salvation by the LORD from the distress that the Philistines threatened (1 Samuel 7:7-8).
-Samuel now offered up a suckling lamb, an innocent baby lamb, to the LORD as a whole burnt offering. He cried to God on behalf of his people, “and the LORD answered him.” As Samuel was offering the burnt sacrifice, the Philistines drew near for battle against Israel. But, in classic miraculous fashion, “the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day against the Philistines and confused them, so that they were routed before Israel.” The men of war in Israel went out of Mizpah pursuing their enemies and striking them down as far as below Beth-car towards the west (1 Samuel 7:9-11).
-The end result saw Samuel taking a stone, setting it between Mizpah and Shen, and naming it “Ebenezer (the stone of help).” He proclaimed, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.” As for the Philistines, they were subdued and did not come back anymore within the border of Israel. In fact, the Hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel, the righteous prophet who prayed for his people. The cities which the Philistines had taken from God’s people were restored from Ekron even to Gath. This created a temporary, but successful, peace between Israel and the Amorites. Israel had once again been delivered from its enemies (1 Samuel 7:12-14).
-Now Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. He would constantly check on his nation as a judge by going annually, like his father faithfully did, around on circuit to Bethel (between Shiloh and Mizpah in the hill country), Gilgal (east of Jericho by the Jordan River), and Mizpah. When he completed his duties, he would return to his home in Ramah, where he had built an altar to the LORD (1 Samuel 7:15-17).
-*Application* We can essentially see the greatness of Samuel, this righteous man of God, in this narrative. His intercession, authority, and faithfulness are quite evident as we meditate on his rule as a judge in God’s country. When he prayed, he got results. God was with him to deliver His people. We can experience this same type of ministry only through the sole power of the Holy Spirit’s indwelling in our lives. His truth transforms and delivers us from our enemies. Seek the LORD with all your heart (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Verse to Memorize: 1 Samuel 7:3