TRUSTING IN THE LORD ALONE
1 Samuel 4:1b-7:17 September 21 2008
About the time Israel took control of Canaan, the
Philistines rose to power along the Mediterranean coast .
They possessed many military advantages over the
Israelites. Their weapons were made of iron , where as
Israelites still used weapons of bronze. The Philistines
were equipped with swift chariots, ideal for the flat
terrain of the coastal plain. However, their chariots
were of little value in the rugged hill country east of
the plain. There, topography offset the Philistine’s
military superiority and Israel maintained firm
control . Consequently Israel and the Philistines
settled into a uneasy stalemate, each awaiting an
opportunity to complete their conquest of the region.
Late in Eli’s Life , open war erupted between
Israel and the Philistines . Israel lost the first battle.
When Eli’s sons brought the ark of the covenant from
Shiloh, their action backfired. The army was routed ,
the ark was captured , and Eli’s sons were killed.
When Eli heard this news , he fell and broke his neck.
Afterwards, the Philistines marched to Shiloh and
destroyed the city.
Twenty years later a revival took place in Israel .
Samuel summoned the people to Mizpah for worship.
When the Philistines learned of this assembly, they
decided to attack. But the Lord stood with Israel,
and the Israelites won a decisive victory over
1. Get Rid of Divided Loyalties (1 Sam. 7:2-4)
1Sam. 7:2 It was a long time, twenty years in all,
that the ark remained at Kiriath Jearim, and all the
people of Israel mourned and sought after the LORD.
7:3 And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel,
“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.” 7:4 So the Israelites put away
their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.
Twenty years in all.L. Probably the 20-year interval
between the return of the ark to Israel and the assembly
called by Samuel at Mizpah (1 Sam.7: 5). Ashtoreths .
Ashtoreth was a goddess of love, fertility and war,
worshiped in various forms by many peoples of the
ancient Near East, including the Canaanites ( Jdg 2:13).
The worship of Ashtoreth is frequently combined with
the worship of Baal (1 SAm. 7: 4; 12:10; Jdg 2:13; 3:7;
10:6), in accordance with the common practice in
fertility cults to associate male and female deities.
2. Join with Others in Spiritual Renewal (1 Sam. 7:5-6)
1Sam. 7:5 Then Samuel said, “Assemble all Israel at
Mizpah and I will intercede with the LORD for you.” 7:6
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.”
And Samuel was leader of Israel at Mizpah.
Mizpah . A town in the territory of Benjamin
(Jos 18:26), located about seven and a half miles north
of Jerusalem. It was here that the Israelites had
previously gathered to undertake disciplinary action
against Benjamin (Jdg 20:1; 21:1) after the abuse and
murder of the concubine of a traveling Levite in Gibeah
of Benjamin. Several other places bore the same name
(2 Sam 22:3; Ge 31:49; Jos 11:3,8; 15:38). I will intercede .
(1 Sam. 7:8-9; 8:6; 12:17-19, 23; 15:11). Samuel, like
Moses, was later remembered as a great intercessor
( Psalms 99:6; Jer 15:1). Both were appointed by God to
mediate his rule over his people, representing God to
Israel and speaking on Israel’s behalf to God. They drew
water and poured it out before the Lord. There is no other
reference to this type of ceremony in the OT. It appears
to symbolize the pouring out of one’s heart in repentance
and humility before the Lord. For related expressions
( 1Sam. 1:15; Psalms 62:8; La 2:19). Samuel was Leader .
(1 Sam. 7:15; 4:18.
3. Confront Crises with Prayer and Bold Action
(1 Sam. 7:7-11)
1Sam. 7:7 When the Philistines heard that Israel had
assembled 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 may rescue us from the hand of the
Philistines.” 7:9 Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and
offered it up as a whole burnt offering 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 with loud
thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such
a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 7:11
The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the
Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point
below Beth – Car.
The Lord thundered with loud thunder . The Lord had
promised to be the protector of his people when they were
obedient to their covenant obligations ( Ex 23:22; Dt 20:1-4;
2 Sam. 5:19-25; Jos 10:11-14; Jdg 5:20-21; 2Kings 7:6;
19:35; 2Ch 20:17,22).
4. Commemorate the Lord’s Help (1 Sam. 7:12-14)
1Sam. 7:12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up
between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying,
“Thus far has the LORD helped us.” 7:13 So the Philistines
were subdued and did not invade Israelite territory again.
Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the LORD was
against the Philistines. 7:14 The towns from Ekron to Gath
that the Philistines had captured from Israel were restored
to her, and Israel delivered the neighboring territory from
the power of the Philistines. And there was peace between
Israel and the Amorites.
Ebenezer. (1 Sam. 4:1). Did not invade Israelite territory
again . Some interpreters see a contradiction between this
statement and subsequent references to the Philistines in
(1 Sam.9:16; 10:5; 13:3,5; 17:1; 23:27). This statement,
however, only indicates that the Philistines did not
immediately counterattack. (2 Kings 6:23-24 )for a similar
situation. A summary statement marking the end of the
author’s account of Samuel’s ministry as Israel’s leader
(1 Sam. 7: 6).
The Philistines are mentioned in Egyptian and
Assyrian records as well as in the Bible. War scenes on
Egyptian temples from the time of Ramses III
depict the Philistines in feathered helmets.
Despite the multiplicity of information, some
facts remain elusive or contradictory. The Philistines
are commonly associated with the Sea Peoples who
migrated from the Aegean region to Canaan. However,
Bible narratives about Abraham designate southwest
Canaan as ‘the land of the Philistines." Abimelech, the
king of the Philistines, was an important character in
the time of Isaac. Some scholars argue these references
were added back into the biblical account. Another
possibility is that Philistine colonists established
trading settlements in the region long before the massive
invasion that occurred at a later date.
Five major cities – Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath ,
and Gaza – dominated Philistia . Each city was semi –
independent, with its own ruler. During time of war they
formed into a well – organized military force The Bible
identified Dagon , Ashtoreth . and Baalzebub as deities
they worshiped. The philistines are depicted as typical
of Israel’s foes in Scripture. Although David suppressed
the Philistines, they did not lose their independence
totally until the Babylonians conquered the region.