1 Samuel 7

1 Samuel 7

Bible Passage:  1 Samuel 7

And here we again… Another part in the saga between Israel and the Philistines…

It’s been over twenty years since the Philistines defeated the Israelites and captured the ark of God, only to bring more troubles upon themselves, and the ark was finally returned to Israel in Kirjath Jearim.

And during the time before the Philistines decided to battle the Israelites again, Samuel called for all the people to put aside their foreign gods and prepare their hearts to serve and worship the Lord God only. He also told them to gather at Mizpah where he would pray for them.

Before we continue to look at the ensuing events, let us refer to a few chapters ago when the Israelites last fought the Philistines.

Let’s go further back in time to the battle where Israel lost in Chapter 4 in our imaginary time machine/vortex…

*Cheesy sound effect*

Israel had just lost part 1 of their battle with the Philistines. So what did they do? They brought out the ark of God of course! And with that, their morale soared and they gave a loud cry that intimidated the Philistines!! Victory to the Israelites!!! Get the streamers and party hats ready, because they have got this one in the bag!!!! We are the CHAMPIONS!!!!!

And then, Israel lost…

Now, let’s return to the time of Chapter 7…

*Cheesier sound effect*

When the people of Israel gathered in Mizpah, the Philistines heard of this and decided to go against them. The Israelites were afraid and they asked Samuel to continue praying for them. Samuel thus made a burnt offering, cried to the Lord, and God acted upon it, handing Israel an awesome victory over the Philistines.

If we compared the two events, we can spot some crucial differences:

  1. The Israelites brought out the ark in the first battle, but not in the second one.
  2. The Israelites had a huge boost in confidence when they brought out the ark, but in the second battle, they were afraid.
  3. The Israelites lost the first battle because God was not with them, but won in the second one because God helped them.

Relying on God or relying on something else?

In Chapter 4, when the Israelites brought out the ark of God, their morale increased because they believed that “it” could grant them victory. Note that, at least in NKJV version, the Bible stated “it”, not “God” (see 1 Samuel 4: 3), indicating that they placed their faith in the ark, not God Himself. Or as biblereadingcompanion put it, a good luck charm. They really thought that that physical object could save them. If we look in verse 7, even the Philistines mentioned “God”. Think about that for a second…

But in Chapter 7, they did not bring out the ark, but they asked Samuel to keep praying for them. Just moments before that, they had already decided to put away their false gods and serve the true God, indicating repentance on their part. And then when the Philistines wanted to attack them, they did not seek assurance in a physical object, but they knew that they needed the help of God. They knew that they had nothing else to rely on but God… They knew that only God could save them…

So the children 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.”…

– 1 Samuel 7: 8

Confidence in God vs. confidence in man…

They were afraid, yes, but unlike the Israelites in Chapter 4, the Israelites in Chapter 7 knew how to turn to God for help. To me, they did not have confidence in themselves, but they had more confidence in God, but the previous batch had all the confidence in themselves and the ark, but showed zero confidence in God. So which one turned out better?

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man…

– Psalms 118: 8

In the end, the main reason that Israel won the battle was because God was with them. In Chapter 4, when they might have brought out the ark, but I think God had already left them by then. And no “good luck charm” or amount of man’s confidence could help them win. But in Chapter 7, all it took was repentance and a cry out to God for them to be victorious. And God did most of the work for them too…

Do we tend to rely more on some material item or some superstition than on God when we meet with some battle? Although we may have confidence in ourselves, have we placed any trust and confidence in our heavenly Father?  Does our strength come from God?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths…

–          Proverbs 3: 5-6

The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold  and my refuge; My Saviour, You save me from violence…

–          2 Samuel 22: 3

May we learn to place more trust and confidence in our Lord, and not rely on the things of man, and that God may be with us and help us all the way…

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