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1 Samuel 7






BY: Jeremy Witt

The Ark of the Covenant was left in Kiriath-Jearim with a Levite named Eleazar.  (Verse 1) For 20 years the Ark is there and seems almost forgotten.  The Tabernacle was in Shiloh and most likely destroyed by the Philistines in the battle mentioned in 1 Samuel 4:1-18 because of the evil deeds of the priests in 2:12-17.  We know that the Tabernacle and its articles inside were saved because they reappear at Nob during Saul’s reign in 1 Samuel 21:1-6 and at Gibeon during the reign of David and Solomon in 1 Chronicles 16:39, 21:29-30, and 2 Chronicles 1. 

(Verse 2)  Let’s remember that many people have died at the end of chapter 6 and now the people are in a time of mourning and probably living in fear.  They may not know what to do.  It may be like that dusty Bible for many.  It is there in the back of our minds but not paid much attention.  What we know is that other things have become more important.  The people didn’t want to give up some things, so they just put God on a shelf like some of their wooden or stone idols.  It took the nation 20 years to come to a point that life as they knew it was not enough.  During this time, the Philistines have essentially done whatever they wanted to Israel.  The people of Israel have done things their own way and worshipped other gods.

In verse 3, Samuel who is now a grown man (at the very least, he is in his 30’s or 40’s), speaks and tells the nation, if you are tired of living life as you have and are ready to return to the LORD, repent and get rid of those things that you have made more important than the LORD God. 

Historical background:  Baal was the god of the Canaanites, the god of thunder and rain, believed to control vegetation and agriculture.  Baal was the son of El, the chief god of Canaan.  Ashtoreth was the goddess of war and war.  In Babylon, she was called Ishtar and Aphrodite in Greece.  She represented fertility, and the Canaanites believed that the sexual union of Baal and Ashtoreth would magically rejuvenate the land and make it fertile. 

A revival swept the land as they removed their gods in verse 4.  Samuel calls the nation to Mizpah in verse 5.  Mizpah is where Samuel became judge for the nation.  It was here that Judges 20:1 took place with the tribe of Benjamin.  The first king, Saul, will be identified and presented to the nation here in 1 Samuel 10:17 and following.  Mizpah will be a special place for Israel. 

Samuel prays to God in verse 5 and pours water out before the LORD in verse 6.  This most likely represents repentance from sin and following God alone.  Isn’t it when things go bad that we realize what we have done wrong?  It is in times of pain and suffering that we pray more too.  We realize that we are in control and in need of God.  When things are good, we think that we did this and lose our focus upon Him. 

Verse 7 compounds the Israelites understanding of their need for God when the armies of the Philistines show up.  Notice verse 8.  The people called out, a sacrifice was made, and God showed up and showed off!  Confusion falls upon the Philistines when God speaks, and Israel defeats them. 

Samuel sets up a stone called Ebenezer.  For those of you old enough, this is where the hymn, “Here I raise my Ebenezer” is referring.  This was a monument or marker to remind the nation what God had done.  We need spiritual markers or monuments to help us not to forget how the LORD has shown up for us.  Do you know your Ebenezer moments?  Have you shared them with your family?  Let us remember what the LORD has done and to help our children and grandchildren to know what the LORD has done.

Posted by Jeremy Witt with

1 Samuel 6






BY: Jeremy Witt

This chapter is one that again amazes me.  I am amazed at the response of the Philistines and their leadership.  The fear and awe that they display cause me to wonder and think why it did not lead them to more.  Maybe you feel the same and sense how that applies to us.  I will get to that at the end of our time this morning. 

This story of the Ark’s return to Israel is quite an interesting one.  The Philistines were ravaged with tumors, death, and loss of harvest.  They knew it was the LORD and not merely a chance.  It was moved from city to city  But when they came to this realization, they sought a way to rid themselves of this.  But they simply did not wish to just send it away, but they sent a guilt offering along with it.  See verses 3-5.  The rest of their plan is given in verses 7-12.  Why was this plan put into place?  First, to place two cows that have never had a yoke on them was unheard of.  Second, for the cows to go in a straight line would be next to impossible.  To take their calves away from them made this a certain impossibility.  For the best-trained cattle to go in a straight line without guidance would be rare.  The Philistines did this to confirm that this was of God and not mere coincidence.  This showed them that God was in control by overruling the instincts of the cows.

When the cart arrives back in Israel in verse 13, it is during the wheat harvest  The people recognize the Ark, and the Levites are notified.  The people stop working during the harvest, which is time-sensitive.  This is one of the busiest times for a farmer, so the fact that they stopped working speaks volumes to me.  They sacrifice the cows and use the cart for the fire as an offering is made to God.  These are all good responses because this shows us that God was more important than the harvest.  However, things change in verse 19 when some men open the Ark, which was forbidden by God.  Curiosity got the best of them.  I can’t speak as to why they opened the Ark up, but it cost them everything.  This response did not simply affect the men, but also 50,070 people died because of the disobedience.  This is a great reminder for us that our actions affect others. 

Let’s go back to our beginning.  As I think about why I am reminded of many times that the LORD has shown up and displayed Himself to me.  I am reminded of times that He has spoken clearly to me.  Yet my memory rears its ugly head to the many times that I have seen God show Himself and also of the times that I have failed Him.  Why did I stray?  Why was I not faithful?  The Israelites did not fear the LORD as much as the Philistines did.  They looked inside the Ark and God’s anger fell upon them.  If I am a believer of the LORD, why would I expect more of an unbeliever?  Why would a pagan or lost person show more than I have?  Just a thought

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