To provide some context, at the end of chapter 6, the Ark of the Covenant had just been returned to Israel after it had been stolen because of their sins. There are many great lessons that can be learned from this passage. In fact, this passage kinda epitomizes 1 Samuel for me.
“And the men of Kiriath-jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord and brought it to the house of Abinadab on the hill. And they consecrated his son Eleazar to have charge of the ark of the Lord. 2 From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.”
Random lesson 1: In verse two, did you catch that “20 years”??? It took TWENTY YEARS for Israel to come to repentance. That's a LONG time! That's probably longer than the average reader of this post has been alive! In summary, we can linger in our sin for a long time.
“3 And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.
Random lesson 2: From verse 4, Israel “served the Lord ONLY”. If you want to serve the Lord, you have to do it wholeheartedly. “And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'” Matthew 22:37
5 Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” 6 So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah. 7 Now when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the people of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8 And the people of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9 So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. And Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. 10 As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel. 11 And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car.
Random lesson 3: From verses 5 – 11: The favor of God means everything! Without it earlier, the Israelites were slaughtered! With it here, they routed the Philistines.
12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” 13 So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 14 The cities that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath, and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites.
15 Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16 And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. And he judged Israel in all these places. 17 Then he would return to Ramah, for his home was there, and there also he judged Israel. And he built there an altar to the Lord.
Random lesson 4: From verses 12-17: It's important to set up ways to remember what God's done for you. It was done many times in the Old Testament, but it's important to do it today as well: “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:5-9
Ever heard of the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”? There are two versions of the song. There's a new version that has altered some lyrics to make it easier to read, but the old version references v.12 when it says “Here I raise my Ebenezer, here by thy great help I've come. And I hope by thy good pleasure safely to arrive at home. Jesus sought me when a stranger, wand'ring from the fold of God. He to rescue me from danger bought me with his precious blood.” Amen and Praise the Lord for all that He has done!
Thanks for reading!