THE BOOK OF 1 SAMUEL
The Lord can be trusted
1 Samuel 7:3-11 SCC 11/9/14
Samuel became a source of deliverance for Israel. Samuel exercised the same function as the judges whose experiences appear on the pages of Judges. Note the continuation of the key word “hand” in this chapter v 3, 8, 13-14. It reflects the writer’s continuing interest in the source of true power. Here is what the Lord wants from the faithful…
LOYALTY TO THE LORD INDICATES ALLEGIENCE TO HIM 7:2-4
Verse 1: Twenty years after the Philistines had returned the ark Samuel led the people in national repentance. Samson’s ministry may have taken place during these 20 years. The word “consecrated” means to officially set apart. Why didn’t they just return the Ark to Shiloh? Some Bible scholars think the reasons may have been that the Philistines destroyed the city of Shiloh.
Psalm 78:60; So that He forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, The tent He had placed among men,
Jeremiah 7:12; “But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. 13 And now, because you have done all these works,” says the Lord, “and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer, 14 therefore I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to this place which I gave to you and your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.
Verse 2: The Philistine oppression resulted in the Israelites turning to the Lord for help. All Israel lamented after the Lord. What does this mean? The word lament means to “cry out” meaning to cry out in such a way--that a realization takes place--the children if Israel began to realize that their spiritual condition and personal corruption and their economic ruin was caused by their unwillingness to serve Lord; it was because of their personal wickedness; corporate idolatry and cultural compromise.
Verse 3: The prophet Samuel issues the people a challenge, a challenge to repent and reform. Samuel reminds them of their unique relationship with the covenant-keeping God. It would appear that the Lord gave Samuel one message; the theme was simple--repent of your sins; commit to the Lord. Think about this for just a moment; for twenty long years Samuel preached a message of personal repentance and total commitment. His audience? The children of Israel--the message--put away your idols, strip away all your titles, commit whole heartedly, unreservedly, and experience deliverance.
Verse 4: Put away the foreign gods (Baal-the god of the storm and king of the Caananite pantheon; Ashtaroth--fertility goddess--sex--war). Repent of your past attitude toward the Lord. Renounce the things that are hindering your spiritual life and rededicate yourselves to His service. But to put away the Baals and the Ashteroth; meant to abandon that which seemed fashionable, reasonable, dependable, agreeable, sensible and even rational. It meant to turn away from the sensual--to the stark and sober. Worship of Jehovah was unattractive. And the served the Lord alone—allegiance!
PRAYER TO THE LORD INDICATES DEPENDENCE UPON HIM 7:5-11
Verse 5- 6: Samuel called on the people to gather, to go public--with their willingness to serve the Lord.
I will pray to the Lord for you. The Pouring out water symbolized the people’s feeling of total inability to make an effective resistance against their enemy. The idea that water poured forth and gathered on the ground couldn’t be gathered again becomes a symbol and a sign of no turning back. The idea is to go public with their decision to follow God’s will forever--no turning back. The people showed that they felt a greater need to spend their time praying to strengthen themselves spiritually than eating to strengthen themselves physically. They admitted that what they had been doing was a sin against God. Refraining from food or water seems a token of their repentance and sincerity in seeking God.
Verse 7: The report of this assembly reaches the Philistines, who seem to misinterpret its purpose, and assume it is a military uprising. The children of Israel faced an immediate threat from their former masters. The Christian who decides to repent, will once again be tempted by the secret sin (or not so secret sin); which held him or her so long in the grips of bondage. But we must remain wholly dependent on the Lord.
Verse 8: The Israelites sensed their continuing need for God’s help and appealed to Samuel to continue to intercede for them. Mizpah was apparently a high place, and the Philistines might have encircled the Israelites, ready to attack them. Samuel gave intercession priority in his ministry because he realized how essential it was to Israel’s welfare. The Israelites are frightened when they learn that the Philistines are coming. Instead of marching ahead with the ark like a rabbits foot, this time all they can do is cast themselves upon God and trust in Him appealing to Him on the basis of grace, not magic.
Verse 9: The sucking young lamb he sacrificed for the people represented the nation as it had recently begun to experience new life because of its repentance. The burnt offering was an offering of dedication, but it also served to make atonement for God’s people. While the Philistines assembled poised to attack, the situation looked impossible for the Israelites. But depending on the Lord in prayer, He answers.
Verse 10: God’s deliverance was entirely supernatural probably to impress the people with His ability to save them in a hopeless condition and to strengthen their faith in Him. Samuel is still offering the sacrifice to the Lord as the Philistine warriors arrive. Baal was supposedly the god of storms, but the Lord humiliated him here. At that moment, God brought a powerful thunderstorm. Seeing what was happening, the Philistines panicked. The situation looked hopeless. Things suddenly changed when Samuel offered a sacrifice. But on that day the Lord thundered loudly against the Philistines.
Verse 11: There was a great victory for the Israelites, and it was all God’s. Over and over in Israel’s history God came to the rescue of His people in most miraculous ways – often ways that involved God’s control over nature, such as the exodus when God parted the Red Sea. At such times, it was God who brought about such confusion and destruction that the Israelites could hardly have taken credit for the victory.
COMMEMORATING THE LORD INDICATES DEVOTION TO HIM 7:15-17
Verse 12: The Israelites memorialized God’s help with a stone monument that they named Ebenezer. God did not need men to vindicate His name. To raise your Ebenezer means to mark the place of God’s victory in your life. Sometimes as we experience the joy and intoxicating freedom of God’s deliverance; we forget to praise Him for His goodness towards us. We should retain memories related to the Lord’s goodness and help to our families. These objects then serve to remind us and teach our children.
Verse 13: The result is that the Philistine domination over Israel ends. They do not invade Israel all the days of Samuel, for the hand of the Lord is upon him and against them. The cities, which the Philistines have taken from the Israelites, are restored to Israel. Peace is also established between the Israelites and the Amorites. All of this our author directly relates to the reign of Samuel. This victory ended the 40-year oppression of the Philistines. However, the Philistines again became a problem for Israel later. The memorial stone bore witness to the effectiveness of trusting the Lord and His designated judge.
Verse 14: This victory began a period of peace with the Amorites as well as with the Philistines. The Amorites had controlled the hill country and the Philistines had dominated the coastal plain. The native Canaanites, these Amorites, would have profited from Israel’s superiority over the Philistines since the Philistines were more of a threat to the Canaanites than were the Israelites. One of the benefits of getting right with God is that territory previously taken is restored. Another benefit of getting right with God is peace with your enemies.
Verse 15-17: In addition to providing the special leadership just described, Samuel’s ministry as a judge in Israel included regular civil, as well as spiritual, leadership. Samuel covered a four-town circuit as preacher (prophet) and judge. The fact that Samuel built an altar v 17 illustrates his response to God’s grace and his commitment to the Lord. He is a kind of “circuit judge,” who makes his rounds from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in each of these locations.
1. Be decisive in word and action in your walk with God.
2. Use physical reminders pointing to times when “the Lord has helped us”. Family Ebenezer’s remind us of God’s grace, power, and love in the battles of life.
3. Call people back to the core principles, to the core message of the Covenant keeping God.
4. Draw strength from the Lord. Continue--in the character of Christ and the content of the Bible message.
5. Renew allegiance to Christ based on the Scriptures, the Word of God.