Study In 1 Samuel. Chapter 7v1-17. Catastrophe And Revival . God's awesome judgement on the men of Beth Shemesh , who had looked inside the ark, had the effect of producing a holy fear in the whole community.
God's awesome judgement on the men of Beth Shemesh, who had looked inside the ark, had the effect of producing a holy fear in the whole community.
Like the Philistines the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh reckoned God was too hot to handle and they decided to play their own game of pass the parcel with the ark. And so word was sent to the men of KireathJearim to come and take the ark and give it a home.
Now we really need a map of Israel before us to see the significance of this action. KireathJearim is on the very border of Judah. It is in Judah but only just. Israel’s treatment of the ark
reflects their attitude towards God.
God was only just given house room.
He certainly was not brought into
the centre of their national life.
That is a graphic picture of what individuals, churches and
nations often do in relation
During this time, God was creating an appetite for blessing through Samuel's ministry. Samuel preached for 20 years before there was any significant movement [this should encourage ministers to be faithful in their ministries]. When the people eventually seek God’s blessing v2, Samuel tests the genuineness of their request by telling them to put their moral and religious life on a right footing. Vs5-6 indicate those elements that are involved in spiritual restoration: humble intercession, willingness for obedient service [to be like poured out water], self abasement and confession.
Notice that it was not until Israel was prepared to put away her strange gods that God was prepared to answer their cry for his powerful intervention in their midst and with it he brought a new spirit of reality among his people. God did this by creating a hunger and a desperation in their hearts that could not be denied. Ask, how desperate am I for the blessing of God? Do we say with the hymn-writer;
The dearest idol, I have known
What ere that idol be
Help me to tear it from thy breast
And worship only thee
Idolatry can be very deep seated and have little to do with external things. The thing that dilutes and distracts our worship more than anything else is in fact our love of self.
Martin Luther put his finger on the matter when he said that he was more afraid of the great pope ‘Self’ than all the other popes in Christendom.
The Philistines heard of Israel's national repentance and planned an attack v7. On a human level they were opposed to the consolidation and solidarity Israel, who, if they became spiritually distinctive, could pose a significant threat.
But on another level we surely need to discern the incitement of Satan. A national revival in Israel was certainly not in his interests.
The Israelites were fearful of the Philistine advance because they had previously suffered two significant defeats at their hands. Besides that, Samuel, whom they viewed as their leader, was not a military man.
However, they meet their fears with God's promise which had been given earlier in v3 and so ask Samuel to do what he does best. Pray!
Prayer is practical! In response to prayer God routed the Philistines, thereby demonstrating that, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God.”2Cor.10v4.
After Israel’s victory over the Philistines Samuel raised up a stone for all Israel to see and called it Ebenezer v12 the "stone of help”: a name associated with the place of their earlier defeat by the Philistines. cf. 4v1.
Clearly, Samuel’s purpose in raising this stone was to act as a permanent reminder to Israel that God can reverse every defeat in our lives and will come to his people’s help if they but trust him to do so.
The standing stone at Ebenezer would remind future generations in Israel of the difference God's presence can make. Previously they had taken God's presence for granted. It was a foolish presumption which owed more to superstition than to faith. On this occasion God's presence was sought through repentance, faith and earnest entreaty. We must not allow that reality to be erased from our memories. There is a whole world of difference between presumption and the dependence of faith.
This victory had long term consequences as v13-14 makes clear. God would protect his people as they walked in obedience and heeded his voice throughout the length of Samuel's ministry.
Like Israel, we are often able to look back on defeats and reverses in our lives and bless God for them as we see them to be the means God used in restoring us to a right walk with him. Isn’t it simply marvellous that God goes to all that trouble over us?