We ended the previous chapter by reading two verses into chapter 7, and ended with Israel lamenting after the Lord. Samuel responds to this by explaining to the Israelites what they needed to do if they were serious about their repentance and desire to follow God. Samuel asks them to put away their idols and to serve the Lord only. Why is this not obvious to them, and why is it not obvious to us? Since the fall it is so easy to put other things, people, ideas on the throne instead of God. But there is only one true God. So, the Israelites follow Samuel’s directions. After fasting they find out that the Philistines are about to attack and they are afraid. Samuel prays and makes another offering, and God routs the Philistines himself with a thundering sound that confuses the Philistines. The Israelites chase them off, and for all the time Samuel is judge over Israel, the Philistines are no longer a problem. Israel regains its territory, and Samuel puts up an Ebenezer as a reminder that God has helped them. Samuel judged Israel in a rotation each year moving on, and he built an altar in his hometown where Hannah and Elkanah were and that was where he spent a year in the rotation.
Samuel, the house of Israel, the Lord, the Philistines, and the Amorites
Verse 3 “And Samuel said to all the house of 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.”
Verse 10 “As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were routed before Israel.”
Remember chapter 2 in Hannah’s prayer she says, “The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven.” (verse 10a) This came true for her son here in chapter 7 as well as continues to be true of God throughout the Bible as we saw during our cross references in chapter 2.
1 Kings 8:48-50 “if they repent with all their mind and with all their heart in the land of their enemies, who carried them captive, and pray to you toward their land, which you gave to their fathers, the city that you have chosen, and the house that I have built for your name, then hear in heaven your dwelling place their prayer and their plea, and maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against you, and all their transgressions that they have committed against you, and grant them compassion in the sight of those who carried them captive, that they may have compassion on them”
Isaiah 55:7 “let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
Hosea 6:1 “”Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.”
Joel 2:12 “”Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;”
Deuteronomy 30:1-10 “And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God has driven you, and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. And the Lord your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. And the Lord your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today. The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.”
Genesis 35:2-3 “So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.””
Joshua 24:14-15, 23 “Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord…He said, “Then put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the Lord, the God of Israel.”
Judges 10:16 “So they put away the foreign gods from among them and served the Lord, and he became impatient over the misery of Israel.”
Judges 2:13 “They abandoned the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth.”
2 Chronicles 19:3 “Nevertheless, some good is found in you, for you destroyed the Ashterahs out of the land, and have set your heart to seek God.”
2 Chronicles 30:18b-19 “May the good Lord pardon everyone who sets his heart to seek God, the Lord, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.”
Ezra 7:10 “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.”
Deuteronomy 6:13-14 “It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear. You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you—for the Lord your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the Lord your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.”
Deuteronomy 10:17-22 “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear. He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen. Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.”
Deuteronomy 13:4 “You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him.”
Matthew 4:10 “Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'””
Luke 4:8 “And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.'””
1 Samuel 2:10 “The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the power of his anointed.”
2 Samuel 22:14-15 “The Lord thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered his voice. And he sent out arrows and scattered them; lightning, and routed them.”
Psalm 18:13 “The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire.”
REPENT. Whatever gets in the way of the Lord, no matter how often, or what it is, or how long we did or didn’t realize that it was an idol in our lives, we must repent and turn fully back to God. As people come to Christ there is usually baggage still hiding out under the surface or hanging on. We must continually turn over those idols to God, that we may live our lives entirely for Him. Instead of acting as though the Israelites are amazing, perfect models for living, we should see that they are mirror reflections of ourselves. Messed up, broken, damaged human beings in desperate need of a Savior. They do not serve the Lord without turning back to idols and the like every generation or so, and that is as an entire group! We aren’t talking about a family falling away from the church here and there, the Israelites turned away en masse. We must pursue and keep on pursuing, and then pursue some more our God of love, forgiveness, grace, salvation. We must not ignore the Old Testament either because false assumptions about the glory of Israel comes from that. As we read the Old Testament we find why Jesus came with such harsh words for the Israelite leaders that were not truly leading the people into loving and serving God, but rather into glorifying themselves. We must realize that all people are fallen and in need of a Savior, and that we will keep on falling down until the trumpet blows and we all finally get to go home!
Jesus in the Old Testament
“This chapter bears the imprint of gospel principles. Samuel makes an appeal to the Israelites, who after 20 years of neglecting the Lord now show signs of wanting to return (v. 2). Samuel exhorts the people to return with all their heart, to demonstrate their repentance by putting away false gods, and to serve God alone. Such full-hearted, active conversion is their only hope of salvation from all that threatens them (v. 3). The people respond in all sincerity (vv. 4-6), but instead of their situation immediately improving, circumstances get worse! Perhaps alarmed by the Israelite assembly at Mizpah (v. 5), the Philistines come out in force with hostile intent (v. 7). There is a gospel reality to this part of the story. How many new converts, perhaps expecting immediate resolution to problems in their lives, discover that in the short term things get worse! But also true to the gospel pattern, deliverance is forthcoming in God’s perfect timing, which can be delayed beyond human expectations. Consider Paul’s words to the Thessalonians about turning and waiting:”*
1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 “For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
This is the cost of discipleship, that things don’t just get easier by following Jesus. They will often get harder. Jesus’ standards are much higher than any others in the world.
“”Till now the LORD has helped us.” Looking at what Christ has done, how much more can believers today say this very thing.”*
*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.
Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please take a moment to leave a comment to share with us.
Next Week: 1 Samuel 8
To receive this Bible Study in your email CLICK HERE