1 Samuel 7


‘So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the LORD. They brought it to Abinadab’s house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the LORD. The ark remained at Kiriath Jearim a long time—twenty years in all. Then all the people of Israel turned back to the LORD. So Samuel said to all the Israelites, ‘If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.’ So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths and served the LORD only. Then Samuel said, ‘Assemble all Israel at Mizpah, and I will intercede with the LORD for you.’ When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the LORD. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, ‘We have sinned against the LORD.’ Now Samuel was serving as leader of Israel at Mizpah. When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. They said to Samuel, ‘Do not stop crying out to the LORD our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.’ 1 Samuel 7:1-8

As we saw in the last chapter when the Philistines returned the ark, the men of Beth Shemesh couldn’t bear the presence of the ark and so the men of Kirjath Jearim came and took it, 1 Samuel 6:19-20.

They placed the ark in Abinadab’s house, and consecrated Eleazar his son, to guard it. The ark remained at Kiriath Jearim for twenty years in all, this means that the ark stayed there until David began his reign, 2 Samuel 6:3-4.

Samuel Subdues The Philistines At Mizpah

Notice how Samuel takes the role of a judge, he calls the people to repent, give their hearts totally to God and get rid of the foreign gods amongst them. This tells us about the idolatry which was going on amongst God’s own people. If Israel wants to end the oppression from the Philistines, they must do as God requires.

The Baals were handmade images, that represented the Canaanite gods, and the Ashtaroth were handmade images that represented fertility. This would include the fertility of crops, animals and man, which tells us that everything they did religiously was governed by these handmade images. This god was also known as Astarte was worshipped by the Phoenicians and Canaanites, the Greeks also worshipped this god and called it Venus, who was the goodness of sex and fertility.

Although Samuel gathered Israel at Mizpah, he knew that this would result in the Philistines attacking them. Hence when the Philistines gathered together to attack, the Israelites became frightened. Notice that they turn to Samuel to ask him to plead to the Lord on their behalf, this tells us that appear to accept Samuel as their judge and leader.

Mizpah was like a gathering point for Israel, we see them gathering there when they declared war on Benjamin, Judges 20:1 and it was this place where Saul was made king, 1 Samuel 10:17.

‘Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. He cried out to the LORD on Israel’s behalf, and the LORD answered him. While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the LORD thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar. Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us.’ So the Philistines were subdued and they stopped invading Israel’s territory. Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines. The towns from Ekron to Gath that the Philistines had captured from Israel were restored to Israel, and Israel delivered the neighbouring territory from the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.’ 1 Samuel 7:9-14

Notice as Samuel was offering the sacrifices up to the Lord, the Philistines attacked but the Lord steps in with ‘loud thunder’. We don’t know exactly how God did this but we do know that the result of this miraculous intervention meant that Israel defeated the Philistines and pushed back as far as Beth Kar which was around 5 miles west of Jerusalem.

After God gave Israel the victory, Samuel took a stone and named it ‘Ebenezer’, which means, ‘stone of help’. Erecting a stone monument was very common among God’s people, Genesis 28:22 / Genesis 31:45 / Genesis 35:14 / James 24:26. God’s victory over the Philistines was so that the Philistines didn’t return to the areas where Israel lived at that time.

‘Samuel continued as Israel’s leader all the days of his life. From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places. But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also held court for Israel. And he built an altar there to the LORD.’ 1 Samuel 7:15-17

Notice that Samuel went on a circuit, this tells us that he travelled around Bethel, Gilgal, Mizpah, and Ramah as a prophet and a judge. This also tells us that the people came to him when he was in one of those places.

Samuel built an altar, which is interesting because it tells us that during this time the tabernacle and the altar had been destroyed at some point, he wouldn’t have done this if the tabernacle was still there, along with the altar inside it, we also know that God would never have accepted it, if they were still there, Deuteronomy 12:5 / Deuteronomy 12:13.

Go To 1 Samuel 8


"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."