from Lynda Lindsey
Samuel to 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. I Samuel 7:3(b)
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.” I Samuel 7:6
And when the people of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 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.” I Samuel 7:7(b)-8
The boy Samuel, now a man assuming his duties as Israel’s judge, began by calling for national repentance. In order to repent and return wholeheartedly to the Lord, the heart that has cherished and nurtured evil, must be cleansed. Samuel directed his people to put away their idols and foreign gods, to love God and serve Him only, to direct their hearts to the Lord in confession, repentance, fasting and prayer, and to offer God a sacrifice of worship. Samuel offered unceasing prayers on behalf of his people.
In prior battles against the Philistines, the Israelites had been soundly defeated; the Israelites’ insistence on going their own way, rejecting God’s leadership and counsel while relying on human strength and understanding, brought certain defeat. The Israelites, observing the Philistines prepare to launch yet another attack, were afraid but Samuel had well prepared his people by directing their hearts to the Lord. God fought for Israel, just as He had done countless times in the past. God’s thunder confused the Philistines until they fled and were overcome by the Israelites.
Once the Israelites looked again to God for victory, God fought for, saved, and delivered His people. When the hearts of the Israelites were obediently directed to God, the Lord unleashed His mighty power. Samuel erected a stone of remembrance, calling it Ebenezer, a stone of help. What battles do you face? Do you need deliverance and help? Check your heart’s direction, for the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; none can understand it. The Deliverer has come. He has fought, and won, the victory! Symbolically, in your heart, erect an Ebenezer stone in thanksgiving!