1 Samuel 7:1-6 - The Elements of Revival

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In this section, we see that the Ark has been returned to Israel, but Israel had not returned to the Lord.  So Samuel calls the nation of Israel to repentance to put away their foreign gods from among them, and prepare their hearts for the Lord and serve Him only.  The result would be that the Lord will deliver them from the hand of the Philistines.    Acts 2,8,9,13

Israel Had The Ark Back; But Things Were Not Really Set Right. Israel realizes that they are no more right with God just because they have the Ark again.  Instead, all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD. 

They Had Good Reason To Lament. Their cities were in ruins, their armies were defeated, and they were under Philistine domination, all because they were not right with God. 

A.     The Elements of Revival.

1.       The Elements That Are Inward (v.2-4)

a)        All the house of Israel lamented after the Lord (v.2).

1)        Lamenting After The Lord (v.2)

(a)      The Idea Of Being Broken And Feeling Wretched Because Of One’s Circumstances—in this case, that of being sinful, lost, and separated from God.


Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom." (James 4:9, NKJV)

It is exactly the feeling expressed by the tax collector spoken of by Jesus who “was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner! ’  (Luke 18:13).

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4, NKJV)

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death." (2 Corinthians 7:10, NKJV)

(b)      Peter Had Sorrow That Produced Godly Repentance.  


Peter said, “I swear by God, I don’t know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went away, crying bitterly." (Matthew 26:74-75, NLT)

1.         Finally realizing the grievousness of his sin, he turned from it in disgust. Like Judas, he fled into the night; but unlike Judas, he returned to the Lord in faith.

2.         His faith had slipped and weakened, but it was genuine faith, and Jesus Himself had prayed that it would not fail:

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”" (Luke 22:31-32)

b)        If you return to the Lord with all your hearts (v.3).

1)        Returning To The Lord With All Your Hearts (v.3): Inward Repentance!

(a)      The Opportunity To Repent Was Given (Joel 2:12-16).  The Lord was ready to forgive and bless, if genuine repentance was demonstrated (Psalm 34:18; 51:17)

(b)      This Calls For A Self Examination!

Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the Lord” (Lam. 3:40).

Through Ezekiel, the Lord says of the genuinely repentant man: “Because he considered and turned away from all his transgressions which he had committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die” (Ezek. 18:28; cf. Ps. 119:59; 139:23-24).

Paul admonished the Galatians, “Each one must examine his own work” (Gal. 6:4)

And to the Corinthians, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5). 

Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, And the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord, And He will have mercy on him; And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah 55:6-7, NKJV)

(c)      This Calls For A Fear Of God!  Although most believers know that intellectually, I’m afraid very few realize what that means practically.

Clearly, the “fear of God” is not optional: “Live in the fear of the Lord always” (Prov. 23:17); “fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt. 10:28); “in all things obey . . . fearing the Lord” (Col. 3:22).

(d)      God Has Always Called His People To Have Such A Perspective Of His Holiness:

The fear of God pressed Manoah to expect instant death because he had seen God (Jud. 13:22).

Standing in the presence of God’s holiness, Isaiah pronounced a curse on himself, “Woe is me, for I am ruined!” (Isa. 6:5)

During our Lord’s earthly ministry, the disciples often came face to face with His power and holiness. On one occasion when they were crossing the Sea of Galilee, a storm appeared. Although they were afraid of the storm, they feared greatly (literally “feared a great fear”) when Jesus calmed the storm (Mark 4:41). They became much more fearful of the presence and power of God than they were of the deadly storm.

(e)      To Revive It, We Must Pursue Holiness In The Fear Of God.

Peter echoed that plea: “But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’ ” (1 Peter 1:15–16; cf. Lev. 19:2).

Today the challenge for Christ’s church is this: “Let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1).

(f)       Fearing God Will Lead to the Obedience of God.

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord… Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God… Noah did; according to all that God commanded him… By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household… (Genesis 6:8-9, 22; Hebrews 11:7, NKJV)

2.       The Elements That Are Outward (v.3-6)

a)        Put away the foreign gods from among you (v.3)

1)        Outward Repentance: The Putting Away Of Foreign Gods (v.3)!

(a)      The Inward Was More Important Than The Outward, And It Had To Come FirstThat is why Samuel first called Israel to return with all your hearts, and then told them to put away the foreign gods. 

(b)      The Inward Is Proven By the Outward. 

What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him…? Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead… You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble…?  But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead…? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also (James 2:14,17,19-20,26 NKJV)

Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance (Matthew 3:8, NKJV)

b)        Prepare your hearts for the Lord (v.3)

1)        The Preparation Of The Heart (v.3): John’s Was To Prepare The Hearts Of The People For The Work That Jesus Was Going To Do. 

The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ ”" (Luke 3:4-6, NKJV)

King Rehoboam did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord." (2 Chronicles 12:14)

c)         Serve Him only (v.3)

1)        We Are To Serve the Lord Only.

(a)      Israel Did Not Feel They Were Rejecting The Lord God; they felt they were only adding the worship of other gods to their worship of the LORD. But this was totally unacceptable; as Jesus said in Matthew 6:24:

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Matthew 6:24, NKJV)… Samuel was calling on Israel to turn their backs on these other gods and serve Him only.

2)        The Men God Has Chosen To Serve His People Have Always Had Hearts Devoted To Him.

Nehemiah 9:8 says about Abraham "You found his heart faithful before You”

When Samuel searched for a successor to Saul, the Lord reminded him that “the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).

Godly King Jehoshaphat of Judah was blessed by God because he “set [his] heart to seek God” (2 Chron. 19:3).


Saul, was chosen largely because he was “a choice and handsome man, and there was not a more handsome person than he among the sons of Israel” (1 Sam. 9:2), and had turned out to be a disaster.

To replace Saul, God “raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will’ ” (Acts 13:22; cf.. 1 Sam. 13:14).

When he turned over the kingdom to his son Solomon, David advised him to “know the God of your father, and serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind” (1 Chron. 28:9).

God used King Josiah to lead a spiritual revival because his heart was tender and he humbled himself before the Lord (2 Kings 22:19).

Ezra was used by God because he “set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).


d)        He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines (v.3)

1)        The Result: Deliverance (v.3): Delivered Means “To Draw To Oneself,” Or “To Rescue.”

(a)      Because They Had Repented The Lord Had Delivered Them From Their Enemy

(b)      The Lord Has Delivered Us From Our Enemy: "He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love," (Colossians 1:13)

(c)      This Happened Instantly: “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17).

(d)      Believers Do Not Need Deliverance From The Dominion Of Sin And Satan; they need to act as those who have been delivered (Rom. 6:2, 7, 11).

3.       The Doing Of Revival/Repentance (v.4-6)


1)        They Put Away Their Foreign God’s And Served The Lord Only (v.4)

(a)      Colossians 3:5-10 put to death your members… Paul uses a figure of speech known as metonymy. When he speaks of killing bodily parts or members, Paul is actually referring to the sins associated with those members (Matt.5:29-30). Paul is saying that believers are:

1.         To make a decision to put sin to death, bringing the flesh under subjection to the Spirit-filled new nature.

2.         The positional reality must be worked out in the believer’s practical living.

3.         Put sin to death by yielding to the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:13), the Spirit’s weapon is the Word (Eph. 6:17), as the believer is strong in the Word, he “overcomes the evil one” (1 John 2:14).

2)        Gathering Of The People At Mizpah (v.5).  This was the place where Jacob separated from Laban (Genesis 31:49), and was the gathering place for a repentant Israel in Judges 20:1. This was a place remembered for separation and repentance. 


3)        Praying To The Lord (v.5).  Samuel had already called the nation to repentance, and they had made a beginning to it. Samuel knew the work God was doing in them could only be completed through prayer. 

4)        So They Gathered Together (v.6).  This showed the spiritual need Israel felt at the time. They did well to express their repentance both with the desire to put away the bad, and to pursue the good. 

(a)      The Experience Of Conviction Of Sin Proves Nothing. It is our response to that conviction that demonstrates repentance. Israel responded by both putting away the bad and going after the good (Acts 2:37-47) 

5)        Pouring Out Water Before The Lord (v.6).  A ceremonial pouring of water, in this context, was a demonstration of having one’s soul poured out before the LORD. It was an expression of emptiness and need.  

(a)      What Do These Verses Say About The Heart (Psalm 62:8; Lamentations 2:19; Job 3:24)

(b)      What Did Hannah Do In (1 Samuel 1:15)

6)        They Fasted and Confessed Their Sin (v.6)

(a)      Asking Forgiveness Implies Confession (1 John 1:9).  To confess means basically to agree with, and when we confess our sins we agree with God that they are wicked, evil, defiling, and have no part in those who belong to Him. 

(b)      Confession Of Sin Is Vital To Maintain Relationship With God (Is.59:1-2).  As God convicts us of sin that is hindering our fellowship with Him, we must confess it and receive forgiveness and cleansing for our relationship with God to continue without hindrance.

(c)      Sins Will Withhold Good Things From Us (Jer.5:20-25)

"For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord will give grace and glory; No good thing will He withhold From those who walk uprightly." (Psalm 84:11, NKJV)

(d)      Sins Will Withhold Good Things From Us (Jer.5:20-25)

7)        Both Satan And Our Prideful Nature Fight Against Any Kind Of Admission To Wrongdoing.

(a)      God Has A Strong Reason For Hating Pride So Much—It is the sin that led to the fall of humanity, pride is what prompted Lucifer to say in his heart:

I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God,  And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north.  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High (Isa. 14:13–14).

(b)      God’s Grace Is Reserved For The Humble. 

For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (57:15).

(c)      God Lives In An Exalted Place.  Who lives with Him there?  Not the high and mighty, but the lowly.  God concluded His message to Isaiah by saying,

To this one I will look, to him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word” (66:2). He blesses the humble, but He opposes the proud.

Peter’s advice is, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time” (1 Peter 5:6).

After all, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

Remember Fonzy of Happy Days I was wwwwwwrrrrr!  But confession is the only way to a free and joyful life. Proverbs 28:13 says, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.”

John Stott says, “One of the surest antidotes to this process of moral hardening is the disciplined practice of uncovering our sins of thought and outlook, as well as word and deed, and the repentant forsaking of them”

8)        Where God is Working, Satan will oppose (v.7-8)

(a)      They were afraid (v.7).  In (4:7) the Philistines were afraid of Israel for they thought that “God has come into the camp”.  Israel was trusting in the ark, and they thought that God was with them when he wasn’t.  Now twenty years later, in (7:7) the Philistines went up against Israel & Israel were afraid, but this time the Lord was with them.  

(b)      They continued to cry out after the Lord (v.8)

(c)      They trusted in the Lord, not the ark (v.8 see 4:3-11)

4.       The Lord Helps and Hears (7:9-12)

1)        Offering up sacrifices to the Lord (v.9)

(a)      Offered up a whole burnt offering

(b)      Cried out to the Lord

(c)      The Lord answered (call on me in the day of trouble) call on me and I will show you great and mighty things Jer.

2)        The Deliverance of the Lord (v.10)

(a)      The enemy drew near as they were offering up burnt offerings

(b)      But the Lord thundered against them

(c)      Philistines were confused and overcome

5.       The Lord Restores (7:13-17)

Why was the Lord against the Philistines all the days of Samuel?  What kind of person was Samuel for the Lord to work such mighty things in his life?

I might do that by reading Romans 12:11, which says, “Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord” (niv). Then I might illustrate that kind of zeal in Acts 2: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.… And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved” (vv. 42-47 niv).

Are tragedies necessary if we are to triumph? These chapters of 1 Samuel may suggest it. 

Hannah’s personal tragedy led her to pray to God and to reorder her priorities (1 Sam.1:1-21; 1 Sam.1:21-2:11). This in turn led to great blessings, as she recovered her vision of God and also was given a large family.

Israel’s defeat, and the death of the men who violated the sanctity of God’s ark, were also tragedies (1 Sam.4:1-3). But the battle purged Eli’s wicked sons from the priesthood, brought Israel a new awareness of the holiness of God, and led to a spiritual revival (1 Sam.6:21-7:14). That revival made it possible for God to give Israel military victory and peace!

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