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1 Samuel 7:214 comment (0)

September 18, 2008

By Doug Wilson

Related Scripture: 1 Samuel 7:214

Explore the Bible
Associate Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

1 Samuel 7:2–14

A report of a survey published in June of this year suggested that 70 percent of religious Americans believe there is more than one way to eternal life. Popular talk-show hosts suggest there are many ways to the One we call God. Politicians suggest there is no place for the Bible in making public policy. The push for “tolerance” has led many to believe no one can know for certain which is correct. Whom can we trust?

Society calls for a form of tolerance that demands all beliefs to be accepted as equally valid. But opposites cannot both be true. Either Jesus is the only Way or He is not.

Evidently Eli’s sons were under the delusion that the army with the Ark of the Covenant before it is invincible. They trusted in the Ark as a religious relic with magical powers. They took the Ark to a battle against the Philistines, and they lost both the battle and the Ark. They died in the battle, and Eli died later that day when he received word that his sons had been killed. 

When the Philistines attacked, they defeated the Israelites and stole the Ark. In their arrogance, they trusted that their god Dagon was greater than the Lord, the God of Israel. After Dagon’s image was found broken and the Ashdodites suffered a strange ailment, they returned the Ark as far as Kiriath-jearim (also Kiriath Jearim and Kirjath Jearim). It remained unused for Israel’s atonement for 20 years. During those intervening years, Israel had turned their spiritual devotion to the fertility god Baal and goddess Asherah, or Ashtoreth.

Abandon Divided Loyalties (2–4)

Israel’s tribes were in spiritual chaos. They had, in large part, abandoned the Law of Moses and their God. People thought they could claim to be heirs of the promises of Abraham and worship the regional fertility deities who would ensure the fruitfulness of their wives, livestock and land. Samuel confronted their syncretism calling for them to commit themselves fully to the Lord.

Unite for Spiritual Renewal (5–6)
Samuel called for a spiritual gathering before the Lord at Mizpah (“watchtower,” where Jacob and Laban had agreed not to harm each another, Gen. 31:49). Indications are that Shiloh had not survived the Philistine occupation. At Mizpah, the Israelites poured out precious drinking water and denied themselves food as an act of repentance for depending upon false gods. They confessed their sins openly and submitted to Samuel’s leadership as their God-ordained judge. He now had the authority to judge their complaints according to the Torah, the written Law.

Confront Crises with Prayer and Action (7–11)
What does it take for believers to bear with personal and corporate crises? Praying brothers and sisters will say we need to take these problems to the Lord. Practical, hands-on believers respond with: “Don’t just stand there; do something!” Both are right. We must depend upon the Lord to give us direction, and then we must follow His lead.

The Philistines were marching against Israel and the leaders were afraid. They begged Samuel to intercede for them. Not only did he pray but he also offered sacrifice to the Lord as atonement for Israel’s sins. God responded with terrifying thunder that made the Philistines turn tail and run. The Israelites went from being the pursued to the pursuers. After the intercession and intervention came action.

Acknowledge God’s Provision (12–14)
What does “Here I raise mine Ebenezer” mean in the hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing?” In Hebrew, Ebenezer means “rock of help.” Samuel set up a large stone to mark God’s protection — His help — against the Philistines. As long as that rock stood, it was to be a reminder of the Lord’s faithfulness in delivering Israel. God saved Israel from the Philistines, and He continued to protect them throughout the rest of Samuel’s life. Perhaps it is time for you to set up a rock of remembrance to remind you of God’s faithfulness, deliverance and help to you.

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