Israel Turns and God Delivers
1 Samuel 7:4–17
1st and 2nd Samuel Lesson #031
November 3, 2015
“Father, we are so grateful we have this time to come together to focus upon You, to be reminded of Your grace, that Your work toward us, in preserving us and protecting us and above all in saving us, is not based in any way shape or form on what we do or what we do not do. It is exclusively on Jesus’ work on the Cross, that He paid the penalty in full for our sin, for all sin. No sin was left unpaid. The issue therefore is not what we can do to help save ourselves, but we should trust in Jesus. The issue is always the Cross, faith alone in Christ alone. Challenge us with the truth of that and what it means. The fact that we have new life in Him. We are new creatures in Christ Jesus with a new mission, a new purpose, a new destiny in our lives.
Father, as we study this evening, help us to understand the things that we study, the implications and applications for our lives. We pray this in Christ’s name, Amen.”
Let’s turn our Bibles to 1 Samuel 7. Last time, as we were looking at the events in 1 Samuel 7, we were also looking at things over in 2 Corinthians 7 talking about the issue related to the terminology that is usually translated “godly sorrow.”
But above all, we were talking about the issue of what is the role of emotion, if anything, in terms of remorse and sorrow for sin in relation to recovery form rebellion against God. This is really the backdrop for what happens in 1 Samuel 7. There is a lot of misunderstanding and distortion about emotion in terms of recovery in the Christian life.
By way of review the outline in these first seven chapters, and we are coming to the end of that first section, is where Yahweh is preparing to deliver Israel through a great change, in 1 Samuel 1–7.
There has to be a preparation. This is interesting. Again and again we see this pattern with Israel. Before God brings a grace change to the nation, and there is a recovery, He brings them to a point where they are going to realize the flaws and failures in their spiritual life, how they have rejected Him.
They have to understand what it is that they have done wrong. There is a principle there. It is the same principle that applies in terms of confession of sin.
Confession of sin is an admission that we have disobeyed God. It is a recognition. It may or may not involve emotion, as I pointed out last time, because we have very familiar sins, whatever it may be.
It may be a mental attitude sin of anger or resentment or bitterness. These sins have become very much a part of lives. It may have been a problem that caused us great angst when were adolescents.
But after 30–40 years of realizing that we still have that same sin trend, we do not get quite as worked up emotionally about it. The problem is that some people think that you have to. That is what we were pointing out last time.
In this section we see how God has orchestrated the collapse of the old order under Eli, 1 Samuel 2:11–4:22.
In 1 Samuel 5:1–6:21 Yahweh is bringing Israel to the point where they are ready to turn back to Him. The turning back to Him takes place in this section.
As I looked at it last time, I want to read in 1 Samuel 7:2–3, “So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years. And all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.”
What had happened (look at 1 Samuel 6:19), after the men from Beth Shemesh violated the Torah and the instructions on how to handle the Ark of the covenant, (because this is holy; it is the presence of God; this is the throne of God; He is enthroned above the cherubim), they get all curious.
And they are going to take the mercy seat off the top of the Ark. They want to look inside. Basically, they want to put their hands all over God instead of treating God with respect.
God struck 50,070 of the people. The last line is what I want you to pay attention to, “and the people lamented because the Lord had struck the people with a great slaughter.”
I won’t ask for a show of hands, but how many of you have been sorry you got caught, or sorry that you had to pay the penalty? I think that is true for most of us.
See, that is what is happening with Israel at the end of 1 Samuel 6. They are sorry they got punished, but they have not turned back to God yet.
That is what we saw in 2 Corinthians 7, usually translated “remorse” is the Greek word METAMELOMAI. It is emotion that does not produce change.
Paul told the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians that he was glad that he made them sorry, but it was a sorrow, not godly sorrow (that is a bad translation from the Greek), but “a sorrow according to God’s standard.”
The Greek preposition that is used there means according to a standard, KATA. They recognize that they have disobeyed God and failed God. While they do have emotion, they do have remorse, it was only one stage toward the endgame of change.
Change is the meaning of the word METANOEO, which means to change your mind. It is usually translated “repent.” But even in the English language, the word for “repent” is often defined as remorse. It means to change your mind, change the direction of your life. That is what we are seeing here.
I put this chart up on the screen last time because it is an overview, a blueprint of the Christian life. The Christian who is walking by the Holy Spirit is what is exhibited in this top cycle. When a believer is living in rebellion and disobedience to God, that is what is demonstrated in the bottom cycle.
How does a person go from walking according to the sin nature to walking according to the Holy Spirit?
It is through confession of sin. I ran through that the last time—that we confess sin. I have a series of passages to go to.
In John 15, the necessary condition to produce fruit and to grow is to abide in Christ. You can abide or not abide.
Galatians 5:16ff, the sole and necessary condition to produce the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22–23 is to “walk by the Spirit.” You can either walk by the Spirit, or not walk by the Spirit.
If you put those two passages together, then what we learn is that if abiding in Christ is a sole and necessary condition for producing fruit, growing and maturing; and if walking by the Spirit is the sole and necessary condition for producing fruit, then walking by the Spirit and abiding in Christ correlate to one another. They are roughly synonymous, two sides of the same coin.
Then if you take Galatians 5:16ff and you compare the language there to the language in Ephesians 5:1ff that talks about walking in truth, walking in the light, and walking in the love, that is contrasted to walking in darkness.
So again you have abide or do not abide, walk in the Spirit or walk according to darkness, walk in darkness or walk in the light, and in 1 John, walk as a fool or walk as wise in Ephesians 5.
What is characteristic of the person who is walking in love, walking in the light, walking in truth is that they are being filled by the Holy Spirit.
English translations usually muck that up a little bit, because in English when you look at that kind of construction in the Greek with the preposition “in,” you can translate it “filled with the Spirit”, “filled by the Spirit”, or even “filled in the Spirit.”
But “filled by the Spirit” fits best. That shows that the Spirit is filling us with something.
We are not getting more of the Spirit, because God the Holy Spirit indwells in every believer completely, totally, fully from the instant of trust in Christ as Savior. God the Holy Spirit is in each one of us. He is leading us according to Romans 8.
But if we do not walk according to the Spirit, as Romans 8 says, but we walk according to the flesh, then we are not going to produce. We are going down here in this lower cycle. We will go through various tests in life, but instead of applying the Word, we are going to try to handle it on our own, which is going to yield to sin and morality, what we call human good.
It is not good that is produced by the Holy Spirit. It is just good that is produced like any unbeliever. It leads to temporal death. That is a deathlike existence. We are living like a spiritually dead person. This leads to spiritual weakness and instability, which unfortunately characterizes a lot of Christians and a lot of us at different times.
When we are not walking with the Lord we are spiritually unstable, and we make what the writer of Proverbs calls foolish decisions. If we continue long enough in this cycle, we will regress spiritually. We will lose ground in terms of our spiritual growth. Our heart can be hardened against God. We just spiral out of control spiritually.
But if we confess our sin and add to that a change of mind, genuine repentance, which we will talk about in a minute, then as we walk by the Spirit, it produces a richness and abundant life that Jesus promised us.
Our life becomes an evidence for the truth of God’s Word. We produce divine good that is the fruit of the Spirit, character change. It leads to greater endurance just like an athlete.
The more you work out, the more you develop your stamina, the more you develop your endurance, and the stronger you become. This leads eventually to spiritual maturity. The goal for the Christian life in the Church Age is to walk by the Spirit.
We are looking at an Old Testament passage. In the Old Testament they did not have the Holy Spirit. They just walked in obedience or in disobedience. It is a different dispensation. They are not indwelt by the Spirit. They are not filled with the Spirit. They do not have the baptism of the Spirit. It is a different dynamic under the Mosaic Law.
But there are certain principles that apply and that we can use for illustrative principles. That is what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:3, which is where I started last week in that section of 1 Corinthians 10:1–13 where Paul says that these things that happen in the Old Testament were an example to us.
What happens is 20 years after the Ark returns to Kirjath Jearim, 20 years after they lamented because God punished them, now they are lamenting after the Lord. It took 20 years for them to say, okay Lord, we are tired of the discipline.
We are tired of the punishment. We are tired of going through this. We want to turn back to You. We want to trust You. Some people are called stiff-necked. The Israelites were called stiff-necked by God many times in the Scripture because they refused to respond.
The point that I was making with the New Testament illustration I went to last week is that we need to understand the difference between being emotional and having remorse, which does not take us anywhere. A lot of people just think that it is all about emotion.
Emotion does not impress God. Sometimes it impresses us, but it does not impress God because God in His omniscience knows how many more times we are going to sin and commit that same sin that we are telling Him we will never ever, ever commit again. We just do not want to get spanked for it.
God in His omniscience says, I know you are going to commit that sin 25,732 more times, so quit trying to pull the wool over My eyes by your crocodile tears. Just admit and acknowledge what you did was wrong. That is all it is.
It is just like when you are in a court of law. I always use the example of when I first went to Connecticut. I spent quite a bit of time going to visit the local magistrate because I would get these little citations for going too fast.
The country roads in Connecticut had speed limits that were roughly 15–20 miles per hour slower than here. You are driving down a road and you think you ought to be doing 45 miles per hour and the speed limit is 30 miles per hour, and you are in trouble.
A police officer told me one day, “I do not want to give tickets to pastors. Just go into court, sign your name as Reverend Dean, and the judge will take care of you,” which I did. I still had to pay the fine, but I had to give a donation to a charity, and it did not go on my record. After that, I taped my business card to the back of the driver’s license. I never had to learn that lesson again.
We do not like to get caught. We do not like to get the fine. We do not like to change, but I could not work up any emotion and go in and say, “Oh, I am so sorry I sped. I will never do it again.” I could never do that. That would be a boldface lie.
Those of you who know me know me too well. Emotion is not what the judge in the courtroom is looking for. He is looking for an admission of guilt or a statement of innocence. That is what God is looking for in His justice. Fess up, meaning admit it or not.
Israel is turning to God. This is the point God brings us to when we are in carnality, when we are in disobedience. Let us see what happens next.
Samuel gives them further instruction. He says in 1 Samuel 7:3, “If you return to the Lord with all your hearts.” That is the starting point. It involves confession, but it does not end with confession.
I think a lot of people get the idea that all I need to do is keep confessing my sin. But the point in Scripture is not confession—that is just recovery.
The point in the New Testament is to stay in fellowship, to abide in Christ, to continue to walk by the Spirit.
When we are young, it is going to be like a revolving door, because just like any human in the physical life, any new born babe, you are learning what it means to become obedient.
But the time should come when you realize, “I am really tired of getting my butt whacked. I need to stay in fellowship a little bit longer and walk with the Lord, because that is where the real action is. That is where real life is.”
That is the exhibiting of our turning to the Lord. It starts with a mental attitude. In the Hebrew this is the word shub. This is an important word even in modern Hebrew.
If a person becomes religious, it is called teshuvah from shub. It has a “t” prefix on it, but it is the same word. It is turning to the Lord. Samuel says, “If you return to the Lord with all your heart.” This word “turn” shows up a lot of different places.
In Deuteronomy 4:30, this is Moses speaking before they went into the land. He said, “When you are in distress,” [in other words when I am bringing judgment upon you] “and all these things come upon you in the latter days,”[that is the latter days of Israel when they are scattered among the nations] “when you turn to the Lord.”
What is the solution? It is turning to the Lord away from idols. Anyone who is not worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God that created the heavens and the earth and the seas and all that is in them, is worshiping an idol.
That idol may be Allah, the father god of Mormonism, your career, your pleasures, drugs, pornography, or your own personal pleasure in entertainment. There are a lot of different idols that we can establish that take us away from the Lord.
God says, “When you turn to the Lord.” What we see again and again is turning is not just a matter of confession. It does not end with confession. It is supposed to move. The normal move, as expressed in Scripture, is to obey.
Again and again you see this connection throughout all of Scripture: turn and obey, turn and obey.
Deuteronomy 4:39, “Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the Lord Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.” Turning here has to do with turning thoughts over in your head. I pointed this out last time.
Deuteronomy 30:1–3 talks about the end times, the last days of Israel. In Deuteronomy 30:2 it talks about after all these things, these disciplines listed in Deuteronomy 28, have come upon you, and you are scattered throughout all the nations of the earth, then when you recall these things to mind, here at the end of Deuteronomy 30:1, “when you recall these things to mind among all the nations where the Lord your God drives you, and you return to the Lord your God and obey His voice.”
Notice again, it is turn and obey. It is turning and obeying. What we are going to see in other passages later on is it is turning to God and getting rid of the idols. It is removing those idols out of our life. That is the result of applying the Word to those situations. It is not just confessing and continuing to do the same things. It is confessing and turning, putting aside those things.
The promise of God in Deuteronomy 30:3 is “the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity.” That has not happened yet. This is a turn that is a spiritual turn to God.
There is a return of Israel prophetically that is the return in unbelief. I believe that is what we are seeing now. It started with the first aliyah in the 1890s. It is continuing, and almost 50% of worldwide Jews now live in the land of Israel.
Isaiah 11:11 says that there are going to be two worldwide returns. The second one is in belief. The first one is in unbelief. There has never been a worldwide return until you get to the end of the 19th century. We now have a worldwide return.
You see this same word in Jeremiah, Jeremiah 3:22, “Return, you backsliding children.”
Jeremiah 4:1, “Return to Me’’ the Lord says.
Jeremiah 18:8, “If that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil.”
Notice, it is turning. It is rejecting the wrong path and turning to the right path. This is what happens.
1 Samuel 7:2, “… And all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.”
1 Samuel 7:3, then the Lord said, “if you return.” Then Samuel spells out the rest of the process—that it does not just start with turning, which is comparable to repentance, but it is a turn that results in action, in a certain specific action that comes across.
Here he says:
“If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then”:
First Step: “put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you.” Get rid of the idols in your life.
Second Step: “and prepare your hearts for the Lord.”This again is mental attitude.
“Heart” does not refer to emotion, except for maybe 3% of its uses in the Old Testament. It relates to the mind, the center of the soul, the thinking of the soul. Scripture says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.” It is the thinking part of the soul. “\And serve Him only.”
First you “turn.” Then,
Then there is a result. Then, “He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.”
This is not talking about individual spiritual life of people in the nation. This is talking about the corporate spiritual life of the nation. This terminology comes right out of the Old Testament.
It is a recognition that there is more to the spiritual life of their nation, as they walk with the Lord in terms of the Mosaic Covenant, than simply ritual. They have to change their mental attitude so that they are not focused on the idols of those around them, but are focused on the Lord.
We see an interesting example of this kind of thing still under the Mosaic Law.
Matthew 5:23–24 Jesus is using the example of an individual who has already confessed. He has already gone through the cleansing ritual. He is coming to the temple to bring an offering. As he is prepared to bring an offering to the Lord, he is reminded by God somehow. It is interesting.
Sometime if you read through the book of Nehemiah, remember, they do not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They are not walking by the Spirit in the Old Testament.
But Nehemiah would say, the Lord put it into my mind to do this. That is not revelation. That is not God speaking. That is God working in and through your mentality to bring thoughts to your consciousness.
You and I cannot always tell the difference between where those thoughts come from. The Holy Spirit often takes the Word that is stored in our soul and He brings it back to memory.
But God does not speak to us in this dispensation like He did prior to this dispensation. In this dispensation, the Canon is closed. The last person God spoke to, the last person to receive divine revelation, was John the Apostle about AD 95–96.
God has not spoken to anybody since.
It is really sloppy, sloppy language to say, well God spoke to me and told me to do this. A lot of times all people mean by that is basically God brought something to their attention. The Holy Spirit somehow along the way brought something to their attention in their mind, and they are responding to it.
But they use a very mystical language. God is not speaking like that today. He is not giving new revelation. The Canon is closed. The revelation has ceased. The test today is, are we willing to trust the Word of God in its sufficiency to live on its basis, or do we have to have God reaffirming it all over again? Are we willing to trust what it is?
Remember, the classic example of this is in Luke 16:19–31, when Jesus tells the story about Lazarus and the rich man.
Lazarus was a beggar outside the gate of the rich man. The rich man died and he was not a believer. He went to the place of torments in Hades. Lazarus was a believer. Lazarus goes to where all Old Testament saints would in the Old Testament. He went to a place called “Paradise.” He did not go to Heaven yet, because sin had not been paid for yet.
Lazarus goes to Paradise, and there is this conversation that takes place because the rich man is over there in Torments. The rich man is burning up. He is dying of thirst. There is a gulf, water, between the two locations. He can see father Abraham on the side of Paradise.
The rich man says, “Father Abraham, just let Lazarus dip his finger in the water and put that on my tongue.” (That indicates some kind of interim body before we get our resurrection body.) Then he said, “I do not want my brothers to go through this. Let Lazarus return from the dead.”
This is not the Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha. The rich man says to let Lazarus return from the dead and “warn my brothers about this, so they will not make this mistake.”
Abraham gives one of the most insightful statements. Today we hear all these things come up. I saw an interview just the other day with some pastor from Austin who wrote a book about these near-death experiences and people who believed they died. They saw Jesus and went to Heaven.
That is not biblical.
There are a lot of reasons for that, but this applies to that. Abraham said, “if they will not believe Moses and the prophets, then they will not believe somebody come back from the dead.”
That is what happened later with Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha. It happened with the Lord Jesus Christ.
What God is saying is you do not need to have miracles. You do not need to have some kind of new revelation or stimulation or something from God to validate His Word. If you will not believe the self-authenticating Word of God, then you will not believe somebody’s experience, because the complete authority is located in the Word of God.
That is the test for today. Are we willing to trust the Word of God in its sufficiency and in its totality, or are we looking for some kind of additional experience to validate it?
The issue that Abraham says in that story is that if Moses and the prophets are not enough, there is no additional miracle or experience that will validate that. The issue is that we are to turn to God.
What Jesus is talking about in Matthew 5:23–24 is if you have gone through the cleansing ritual in the Old Testament, you are pure. You go into the temple and bring your gift to the altar. Then you remember that there is a sin against a brother. You are in a position where you are in fellowship.
At this point God has brought something to your mind. You are to leave your gift there, leave the altar, and go your way. The Law said to love your neighbor as yourself. If you continue once God has brought this sin to mind, and you do not deal with it, then you are out of fellowship again.
Jesus says in Matthew 5:24 first be reconciled to your brother and then come and bring your gift. It is totally structured within the offerings framework of the temple. But this is the kind of thing we see many times in the Old Testament. It is that when we are going to obey God there is confession. There is consequent action that is expected.
For example, in Genesis 35:2, “And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him.” This is when Jacob is going back to the land. He is going to enter into the land. They are going to offer sacrifice to God. He says, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you,” remove the sin, cleanse yourselves, and change your garments (preparation for worship).
Isaiah 55:7, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord.” There is a correlation between not just confession. Turning to God means removing other things from the life.
Jeremiah 25:5–6, “Repent now every one of his evil way and his evil doings.” That means to turn from it. “And dwell in the land that the Lord has given to you and your fathers forever and ever.”
What does it mean to repent from those things? “‘Do not go after other gods to serve them and worship them, and do not provoke Me to anger with the works of your hands; and I will not harm you.’ ”
The same kind of thing Joshua said in Joshua 24:20, “If you forsake the Lord and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after He has done you good.” What happens? Again we see this same pattern over and over again.
1 Samuel 7:4,“So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths and served the Lord only.” First they did what? They lamented. God brought them to a point of sorrow according to God. They turned to God.
Then they asked Samuel what they should do. He told them to put away these gods. They do that. “So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths and served the Lord only.”
What happens here is something that happens a lot of times in Israel. It happens with us individually. Any time we start becoming serious about our spiritual life, there is going to be some opposition. Satan just loves to throw up some opposition in our direction. The world system seems to cooperate with that.
Sometimes our sin nature is just all too ready to try to block any attempts that we have to start walking with the Lord. We always have to be prepared for that.
This is what happens: Israel puts away the Baals and the Ashtoreths to serve the Lord only.
Then they ask Samuel what do we do?
In 1 Samuel 7:5 he says, “‘Gather all Israel to Mizpah and I will pray the Lord to you.’ ” But what happens while they are gathering in Mizpah is the Philistines get word of this. What happened spiritually, since the Philistines are their overlord at this time, is when Israel says we are turning back to God, they are rejecting the gods of the Philistines.
That is called treason. By taking a stand against these false gods they have been worshiping and turning to God, they are committing an act of rebellion. It starts theologically. It starts religiously. They are committing an act of rebellion against the Philistines.
The Philistines start to gather their armies together. They are going to come against the Israelites at Mizpah. Something really interesting happens here. In 1 Samuel 7:6 it says, “So they gathered together at Mizpah.”
Here is Mizpah. It is located about 20 miles north and a little west of Jerusalem. There is no central sanctuary there. It has a history in the background of Israel, as a place where they met. They confirmed the covenant. They are going to meet together there.
What happens is they come together. They “drew water, and poured it out before the Lord.”
What in the world is going on here, because there is no ritual that calls for this in the Mosaic Law? This symbolizes something. We ought to ask the question: what does that water symbolize in the Scripture?
Water symbolizes cleansing. It also symbolizes life. There is a recognition here that they are cleansed, and also recognition that there is life. In Eden, water was a symbol of life. In Revelation 21, we see water flowing out of the throne of God. It is used there also as a symbol of eternal life.
It is used in Lamentations 2:19 where Jeremiah says, “Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord.”
This is the need of Judah—to confess sin before the Lord as they are getting ready to go out under the 5th cycle of discipline by Nebuchadnezzar conquering them.
This is one of the most interesting and significance events. It may have its origin in this event, because this act of pouring out water before the Lord at Mizpah became part of the ritual of Israel.
We have a feast where Jesus is in Jerusalem in John 7:37–38. On the last day, Jesus comes out and makes an announcement to the crowd. He cries out, “If anyone thirsts,” as they are pouring out the water. He is identifying with that. He says, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” I am the Source of life.
Drinking—we do that in communion service. We drink the cup. That is a picture of belief, of taking something in. So when Jesus says “if anyone thirsts let him come to Me and drink,” He is saying basically to come and believe upon Him. This is what is spelled out in the next verse. “He who believes in Me.”
See, believing in Him is parallel to drinking the water. Just as in communion, the reason we eat the bread and drink the cup—those symbolize the fact that we have trusted in Christ. We have believed in Him, His person, and His work for our salvation.
In John 7:38, Jesus goes on to say what He means by this: “He who believes in Me as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”
It is a cleansed heart because of confession. This pouring out of the water is a depiction of cleansing of sin—the new life that comes. See, the believer is walking in darkness, walking in sin. It is the life of death.
That is how Paul describes it in Romans 6. You are living like a dead person. It is not spiritual death. It is not eternal death. It is what we call carnal or temporal death. It is living like you are spiritually dead instead of experiencing the abundant fullness of Christ’s life.
In 1 Samuel 7:7 we read, “Now when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel had gathered together at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel.”
The previous two or three verses are telling us what Israel is doing. Then the Philistine spies, as their intelligence network reported back to them, heard that Israel was gathering together at Mizpah. They decided to respond and put down this rebellion. They went up against Israel.
“And when the children of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines.”
They looked at the circumstances like many of us do, and they became fearful. They look out on the employment situation in Houston. They were not too happy, especially if they were in the oil business. They became fearful. They looked at the things that were going on in their school or with their children. They became fearful. They look at the fact that their children are being overwhelmed with a lot of human viewpoint idiocy, lies, and political correctness in the school. They became fearful. There are a lot of reasons people become fearful. Some people manufacture fear because that is the trend of their sin nature.
Israelites had a circumstance that they could not resolve on their own. They became fearful. They cried out to the Lord. They called upon Samuel to cry out for them in 1 Samuel 7:8, “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.’ ”
Notice, this is another use of the word “save” that does not refer to eternal salvation. It refers to a temporal deliverance from a temporal problem.
The Israelites are crying out. This is the same kind of thing that we saw happen again and again in the book of Judges, where they are about to be attacked by an enemy force, and they cry out to the Lord. They are calling upon Him to sustain them in the midst of the difficulty. They cry out to Samuel and Samuel does what?
Samuel is going to show this is how you trust the Lord. What does he do?
1 Samuel 7:9, “And Samuel takes a suckling lamb.” This is a lamb that has not been weaned yet. It is a lamb that in all the descriptions of Scripture would be without spot or blemish. He takes that suckling lamb “and he offers it” (as an olah) “as a whole burnt offering.”
What happens is this baby lamb is taken. If you have never seen a baby lamb, go to the stock show some time and just look at some baby lamb. Think about having to take that lamb when you sin and having to bring that to a priest.
While you are standing there, the priest is going to have you put your hand on that lamb and confess your sin. In doing that, your sin is being transferred to that lamb. That lamb is now going to bear the punishment of your sin. Because of what you did, that lamb is going to die.
That lamb is going to die. That is what happened at the Cross. Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” He had to die because of our sin.
The burnt offering, the lamb, has its throat cut. It is placed upon the altar. The fire is lit, and it is completely consumed. It is a picture of substitutionary atonement—that something has to die in our place for our sin.
It is a picture of the fact that it is because of a sacrifice that we either gain fellowship with God to begin with in salvation, or experientially we are restored to fellowship because of that.
What happens next as we read in 1 Samuel 7:10, “as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel.”
This is phenomenal. They are not armed with anything more than bronze weapons. The Philistines have iron weapons. The Israelites do not. They are out gunned. They are outmanned. The Philistines have greater tacticians. They are a greater military. How in the world are we going to do this?
This is another example that the battle is the Lord’s. Whatever the battle is in your life, the battle is always the Lord’s.
They draw up and then it says, “But the Lord thundered with a loud thunder.” This is fascinating because the word that is used here is not the normal word for thunder. This word is used only when God is speaking from Heaven.
This word is used to describe the thunderous supernatural sound of God speaking into His creation.
There are passages like 1 Samuel 7:10. It goes back to the context of Hannah’s psalm in 1 Samuel 2:10 where she predicts as she says, “The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them.” Again, God is the one doing this kind of thunder.
Some other passages:
2 Samuel 22:14, “The Lord thundered from heaven”the psalm says. “And the Most High uttered His voice.” Uttering His voice is parallel to thundering. It is the voice of God speaking into His creation.
Psalm 18:13, “The Lord thundered from heaven, and the Most High uttered His voice, hailstones and coals of fire.” This is God bringing judgment on an enemy.
Psalm 29:3, “The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders.”This is probably relating to the Noahic Flood.
Psalm 96:11, “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and all its fullness.”
Psalm 98:7, “Let the sea roar, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell in it.”
The roaring is this thunder as a result of God’s work.
Job 37:4, “After it a voice roars; He thunders with His majestic voice, and He does not restrain them when His voice is heard.”
All of this is God speaking. This is the same thing that happens when—a different word, but— when the Roman guard is about to lay hands on Jesus when they are arresting Him at Gethsemane. Remember? There is this flash and this loud sound. The soldiers fall down on their faces before Jesus.
I think this is that same thing. It does not scare the heck out of you. It scares a whole lot more out of you.
And the Philistines just immediately blanched and ran.
1 Samuel 7:11, “And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below Beth Car.”
This is a continuation of holy war that God instituted that was temporary. There is no continuation of it. It only occurred for a limited time, as God was authorizing Israel to bring divine judgment on the Canaanites.
It has nothing to do with Jihad today. Jihad is a satanic perversion of what God was doing to clear and clean out, surgically remove, the abomination of the Canaanites.
The land that the Israelites recover is land that had previously been lost. So because of their obedience they are going to have a supernatural victory over the Philistines. They are going to recover land that they had lost.
1 Samuel 7:12, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer.”
There is a song, a hymn we sing, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” In the second verse it says, “Here I place mine Ebenezer.” Most people are asking: What does this have to do with Scrooge? What does this have to do with…? I do not understand.
1. Ebenezer is a Hebrew word for the “stone of help,” that God is our Rock of Help. He is the One who helps us.
There is another Ebenezer that is mentioned in a different location. That was at the battle of Aphek that we studied back at the beginning of 1 Samuel 4, that the Israelites gathered at Ebenezer and the Philistines gathered at Aphek.
At that Ebenezer, God did not help them because He was taking them under divine discipline. But at this Ebenezer, God is giving them the victory because they have returned to him in obedience. God gives them victory. That is what the meaning of this is—the Lord has helped us. It literally means “He is the Rock of our Help.”
2. That second word ezer—listen to this: that second word ezer is what God gave Adam. The Lord gave Adam an assistant. Only God and the wife are called an assistant.
Feminists today say that that is derogatory to call a wife the assistant to the man. But if it is derogatory to call the wife an ezer, then it would be derogatory to call God an ezer. If it is derogatory to call God an ezer that is blasphemy. To say it is derogatory to call a woman an ezer, is an attack and an assault on the very character of God, who is our ezer. He is the One who sustains us. He is our Helper. He is the One who helps us.
Why is He our Helper (ezer)? Because He is our Rock. We see this term eben used again and again in relationship to God. Here are several verses:
Deuteronomy 32:4 says, “He is the Rock.” It is almost as if “Rock” is a nickname for God.
That is what I think Jesus is referring to when He is talking to Peter and has that interchange. He says, “On this Rock.” He is referring to Himself. “I will build My church.”
“He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.”
Deuteronomy 32:15, “But Jeshurun [Israel] grew fat and kicked.” They got prosperity and they forgot God. “You grew fat, you grew thick. You are obese! Then he forsook God who made him, and scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation.”
Deuteronomy 32:30, “How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them.”It is the Rock who gives them the ability to have military victory.
In 2 Samuel 22:3, “The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge.”See, God is our Rock.
2 Samuel 22:32, “For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?”
2 Samuel 22:47, “The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let God be exalted, The Rock of my salvation!”
The issue is that in whatever situation you are in, when your life is like the Israelites, and you are surrounded by the Philistines, the only hope is that God is our Rock! Even when you are not surrounded by the Philistines. It is petty problems. We have the Rock to sustain us. God is the One who protects us.
Scripture uses all these metaphors:
He is the One who protects us. He is the One who sustains us. He wants us to trust Him fully and trust Him alone and not say, Lord, I really trust you for things, but I have got enough money in the bank. My 401(k) is okay. We are trusting in all these other things. God wants that exclusive trust on Him.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things and to be reminded that the battle is Yours. The battle belongs to You. You are the One who wants to give us victory, but the conditions are that we need to be walking with You. We need to trust in You. We need to be walking by God the Holy Spirit, in fellowship. We need to be applying Your Word. Those are the conditions. Then You deliver us. Then You sustain us through each and every problem, no matter how overwhelming it may be.
Father, we pray that You would challenge us with these promises and these principles we have studied this evening in Christ’s name. Amen.”