1 Samuel 7

• Philistines Returned the Ark — 1 Samuel 6:1-7:2
• Samuel Called Israel to Spiritual Renewal — 1 Samuel 7:3-14
• Summary of Samuel’s Ministry — 1 Samuel 7:15-17

1 Samuel 7:3-15
7:3 And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, “If you are returning [must leave something (in this case, the foreign gods and Ashtoreths) in order to return] to [to center lives on the Lord; to exclusively worship and obey] the LORD with all [not part; wholehearted devotion] your hearts, then [practical steps] [1] rid yourselves of the foreign [Canaanite] gods [Baals] and the Ashtoreths [wife of Baal and goddess of fertility and love] and [2] commit [“establish your hearts” (cf. Josh. 24:14-15 and Matt. 6:24)] yourselves to the LORD and [3] serve him only, and [once conditions are met] he [God] will deliver [rescue; good news for oppressed people; cf. 7:8] you out of the hand of the Philistines.”

7:4 So [in response to Samuel’s spiritual challenge] the Israelites put away [abandon; an intentional act of repentance; necessary in order to experience spiritual renewal] their Baals and Ashtoreths [chief Canaanite god and goddess respectively, during this period; people carried small images of these gods; that which caused their love for God to grow cold], and served the LORD only [cf. Deut. 6:13; Matt. 4:10].

7:5 Then Samuel said, “Assemble all [probably representatives from all the tribal territories] Israel at Mizpah [name means “watchtower”; a place located about five miles north of Jerusalem; cf. Judg. 20:1] and I [Samuel] will intercede [a function of a true prophet] with the LORD for you.”

7:6 When they had assembled at Mizpah, [1] they drew water and poured it out before the LORD [meaning of this act is uncertain; this practice not described elsewhere in OT; perhaps represented their lives poured out to God; perhaps to symbolize their reliance on the Lord; perhaps a symbol of contrition]. On that day [emphasizes immediacy; no delay] [2] they fasted [denying physical needs to focus on spiritual needs; spiritual discipline that often accompanied repentance and renewal] and there [at Mizpah] [3] they confessed [essential to spiritual renewal; must lay aside pride in order to confess; people confessed sin to God not to Samuel], “We have sinned against the LORD [cf. Ps. 51:4].” And Samuel was leader [spiritual leader rather than chief of state] of Israel at Mizpah.

7:7 When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled [perhaps Philistines thought Israel had assembled in preparation for a military strike] at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. And when the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines.

7:8 They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the LORD our God for us, that he [people looked to God rather than to Baals and Ashtoreths] may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.”

7:9 Then Samuel took a suckling lamb [at least eight days old (cf. Lev. 22:27)] and offered it up as a whole burnt offering [an offering completely consumed on the altar; priest and worshiper received no part of the animal] to the LORD. He cried out to the LORD on Israel’s behalf, and the LORD answered him.

7:10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the LORD thundered [showing He (and not Baal) was in control of the weather] with loud thunder [a ferocious storm] against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed [to put to disorderly flight or retreat] before the Israelites.

7:11 The men of Israel rushed out [boldly] of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Car.

7:12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up [as a commemoration and reminder to future generations; a tribute to God apart from whom victory is inconceivable] between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer [means “stone of help” (cf. Gen. 49:24; Ps. 46:1)], saying, “Thus far has the LORD helped us.”

7:13 So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israelite territory again [for the remainder of Samuel’s lifetime].

7:14 Hebrews regained territory previously lost to Philistines.

7:15 Samuel was the judge over Israel the rest of his life.

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