1 Samuel 7:7-17 - Samuel Leads The Nation to Victory
A. Israel’s Victory Over Philistia
1. Where God Is Working, Satan will Oppose (v.7-8)
a) When the Philistines heard (v.7)
1) The Philistines Response.
(a) Remember Their Response In 4:7-8? The Philistines should have been afraid of a repentant, God-seeking Israel, because with God fighting for them they were invincible.
(b) The Philistines saw Israel crying out to the Lord this time in humility, & they may have been saying, “Look at those weakling Israelites. They are such wimps, crying out before their God like this.”
(c) Your Biggest Weakness Is God’s Greatest Opportunity (1 Cor.1:27-29; 2Cor.12:7-10).
1. God chooses the weak things of the world. When He uses what is weak, His power and might are that much more evident.
2. Remember, God has allowed adversity into your life to loosen your dependence on your own strength.
b) The lords of the Philistines went up against Israel and the children of Israel were afraid (v.7).
1) Satan Works Through Fear / Our Feeling of Confidence Can Be Very Deceptive.
Twenty years earlier Israel was completely confident against the Philistines when the ark had come into the camp and the Philistines were afraid of Israel. But Israel’s confidence was false, and they were soon defeated.
Here, Israel is fearful and sure of defeat, they have no confidence at all. But they are humble and repentant before the LORD, and will see a great victory.
In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence, And His children will have a place of refuge." (Proverbs 14:26, NKJV)
1. Often, we can’t go by how we feel (good or bad), we just need to humbly do what is right before God and trust Him for the victory.
2. Israel seemed to have more faith when they were trusting in the ark than when they were humble and repentant before the LORD. But small faith in the true and living God is more powerful than the strongest faith in a lie.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love." (1 John 4:18)
Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." (John 14:27)
For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7, NASB95)
2) Satan Works Through Scorn and Intimidation (Nehemiah 2:9-10, 19-21).
(a) When God is building up something, the enemy wants to tear it down. Two weapons:
1. Scorn”— to “mock, scorn, laugh at, ridicule”. It is also compared to “slander, speaking against, murmur, backbite.”
2. Despise”— The basic meaning of the root is “to accord little worth to something.”
a. Goliath despised David because he was but a youth (1 Samuel 17:42)
b. Michal, David’s wife despised him when he was dancing before the Lord (2Sam.6:16)
3) Satan Works Through Discouragement and Criticism (Nehemiah 4: 1-3)
One Measure Of A Leader Is To Be Able To Measure Criticism; to not allow one to be run down by the critical, while still be sensitive to God’s voice even in the midst of criticism.
Discouragement Is Such A Powerful Weapon because it is somewhat the opposite of faith; where faith believes God and His love and promises, discouragement looks for and believes the worst - and tends to pretty much forget about who God is and what He has promised to do.
4) Satan Has No Authority To Stop The Work (Neh.4:1-3)
Because Nehemiah and the workers do in fact have legal protection from the king (proven by the letters mentioned in Nehemiah 2:7), Sanballat and Tobiah have no authority to actually stop the work; all they can do is discourage the Jews into stopping.
1. The Exact Same Attack Comes Into The Life Of The Believer - who is legally set free by his King; yet can be discouraged into drawing back from what God has set before them.
2. We Work Differently Under Faith Or Discouragement. We pray differently under faith or discouragement; we read and hear the word differently under faith or discouragement – no wonder Satan works so hard to keep us from faith and in discouragement!
Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:38-39)
5) Nehemiah Comes Against the Attack With Prayer (Heh.4:9)
Nehemiah’s response is a great example: he didn’t debate, he didn’t form a committee, he didn’t even deal with the two enemies directly - he took it to God in prayer.
1. For Nehemiah, prayer was a first resource, not a last resort. Don’t think of God as a spare tire, you only pull Him out when your life has a flat. When times of opposition come, God wants us to rely on Him - and the purest way of expressing our reliance on God is in prayer.
2. A Seeking After God (1 Samuel 7:8)
a) They Turned Their Fears Into Prayers — Seeking God (2 Chronicles 29:3)
The Bible says, “to cast all your cares on Him; for He cares for you.” Don’t be worried.
1) What Does It Mean To Seek The Lord? It Means You Will:
(a) Put God First In Your Lives. No matter what happens to us or around us, we choose to obey God, follow God, and have a daily and intimate relationship with God.
(b) Want The Lord In Your Life. Those who seek the Lord are in pursuit of the Lord. They talk to Him, listen to Him, and are eager to consult Him at all times.
(c) Be Reading God’s Word On A Regular Basis. Over time, we will grow in our understanding of the fullness of God’s plan and His desires for us.
(d) Be Asking The Holy Spirit To Lead And Guide Our Daily Decisions. We will turn often to the Lord and ask, “Is this something You want me to have? Is this something that has Your stamp of approval on it? Is this something that is right for my life?”
(e) Consult God First & Foremost In All Matters (Prov.3:5-6; 16:3; 1 Chronicles 28:9; 2 Chronicles 26:5; 1 Samuel 23:2-4; 30:8; 2 Samuel 2:1; 5:19-20, 22-25; 21:1)
2) There Is A Reward To Seeking God (2 Chronicles 14:1-4, 9-11)
3) Asa began well but ended foolishly (2 Chronicles 15:1-7, 10-15)
"Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Galatians 3:3)
b) They Trusted In The Lord, Not The Ark (v.8 see 4:3-11)
The humble state of Israel’s heart is shown by they did not feel worthy to come to the LORD themselves (Do not cease to cry out to the LORD our God for us).
3. The Lord Helps and Hears (7:9-12)
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1, NKJV)
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth." (Psalm 145:18, NKJV)
a) Offered Up a whole burnt offering (sucking lamb)… crying out to the Lord (v.9)
Why did Samuel take time for a sacrifice at such a critical time? Because he knew he could only effectively pray in light of God’s atoning sacrifice
1) There Was A Time of Worship — Offering Up Sacrifices To The Lord (v.9)
Think of that poor lamb - a suckling lamb - who had never hurt anyone or who had never sinned itself, had its throat slit, its blood poured out, its body cut up, and its carcass burned.
Why? Because Samuel and Israel were saying, “This is what we deserve. This is the punishment that should come upon us. We thank you God, for accepting the punishment of this innocent lamb instead.” When we trust in the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), we are saying the same thing.
b) Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel and the Lord answered Him (v.9)
1) Samuel Modeled A Response Of Prayer (v.9)
(a) The people knew Samuel prayed (vv. 8, 9).
(b) The Bible speaks of Samuel as a mighty man of prayer Exalt the Lord our God And worship at His footstool; Holy is He. Moses and Aaron were among His priests, And Samuel was among those who called on His name; They called upon the Lord and He answered them." (Psalm 99:5-6, NASB95)
(c) Samuel was deeply committed to prayer (1 Sam. 7:8, 9; 8:6; 12:19, 23; 15:11; Ps. 99:6).
(d) Scripture repeatedly records that Samuel prayed when he was troubled (1 Sam. 8:6; 15:11).
2) Application (Jer.33:3; Psalm 50:1; Isaiah 65:24)
c) The Lord thundered against the Philistines that day… & confused them (v.10)
1) The Lord Fights For Israel / Deliverance of the Lord (v.10)
Going back a couple of chapters, it was at Ebenezer where the children of Israel twenty years earlier were thoroughly defeated by the Philistines. That’s where 30,000 of them got wiped out, and that’s where the Philistines gained the supremacy over Israel.
Now In The Same Place Of Great Defeat, They Have Great Victory. What made the difference between defeat and victory? When they went out twenty years earlier and were defeated:
1. They went out without prayer.
2. They went out without seeking the guidance of God and without seeking the help of God.
3. They went out in their own strength and in their own power & they were thoroughly defeated.
Now, They Go Out Relying Upon God. Are They Fearful? Yes! Because they knew their strength was weak, but they were trusting in God.
4. They went with prayer, sacrifice; and now God delivers the enemy into their hands.
2) The Lord Thundered Against And Confused Israel’s Enemies (v.10-11).
God fought from heaven on behalf of Israel, and sent the Philistines to defeat. But this was a special work of God. After all, the Israelites heard the same thunder, but only the Philistines became so confused . . . that they were overcome. God not only send thunder, He sent confusion to the Philistines and confidence to Israel.
“Confused” “harass,” “trouble,” often with the purpose of creating panic. God is striking Israel’s enemy with panic for their sake (Ex 14:24; Ex 23:27; Josh 10:10; Jud 4:15).
1. It is also significant to understand that Baal was thought to be the god of weather, and was sometimes pictured with a thunderbolt in his hand. When Israel put away their worship of Baal (1 Samuel 7:4), it was as if God said, “I’ll show you who the real God of thunder is.”
2. This was the kind of victory Israel was hoping for in 1 Samuel 4, when they brought the Ark of the Covenant into battle. If they would have only repented and sought the LORD as they are doing here, they could have had this kind of victory long ago.
How Many Times, As We Are Struggling Against The Flesh And The Enemy, Do We Seek To Go Out In Our Own Strength Then Finding Ourselves Defeated And Wiped Out?
1. I don’t have the power to resist to temptations of the flesh. I need the strength of God. I need the help of God. We have to rely upon God if we are going to be victorious. So the vast difference between defeat and victory.
2. Jehoshaphat Sought The Lord And Had Victory (2 Chronicles 20:1-4)
2) Samuel Set Up A Stone And Names It Ebenezer (‘stone of help’ v.12).
This is the site of the dual defeat of Israel at the hands of the Philistines near Aphek in the N of Sharon. The sons of Eli were slain, & the ark was captured (1 Sa. 4:1–22; 5:1).
The name of the stone, which Samuel erected between Mizpah and Shen some years after this battle, to commemorate his victory over the Philistines (1 Sa. 7:12). The stone was probably given the same name as the site of Israel’s earlier defeat in order to encourage the impression that that defeat had now been reversed. The exact site of the stone is unknown.
(a) It Was A Stone Of Remembrance, Looking Back To The Past.
1. The Crossing of the Jordan (Joshua 4:4:1-8, 19-24)
a. The Stones Were To Be A Sign & Memorial To Them And Their Children (v.6,21).
1) The purpose of this memorial was so that the people of Israel could teach their children about the great things God has done, so that the work of God would not be forgotten in future generations. Teaching their children would give them a point of contact with God’s work in the past, and remember that God’s work did not begin with them and their time.
2) Judges 2:7-23 Joshua’s generation dies, one rises up who does not know the Lord.
3) Luke 8:26-39 Jesus cast out demons and tells him to go and tell of this great thing.
b. The Stones Were To Be A Sign & Memorial To The Children Of Israel Forever (v.7).
1) It is so easy for us to forget the great miracles God has performed on our behalf. We don’t remember the past great works of God so that we can live in a dreamland of the past, thinking that the best days of our Christian experience are behind us. We remember them as a point of faith, so we can trust God for greater and greater works in the future, because we have seen and experienced His past faithfulness.
2) We often fail in our trust of God because we forget the great things He has done, and often the faith of our children is weak because they have never been told how great God is and how real His working is in our lives.
c. The Stones Were To Be A Sign To All The Peoples Of The Earth (v24).
God wants all people to know that the “hand of the Lord” is mighty, & that they may fear the Lord God forever”.
Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you." (1 Samuel 12:24, NASB95)
God thunders with His voice wondrously, Doing great things which we cannot comprehend." (Job 37:5, NASB95)
Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’" (Jeremiah 33:3, NKJV)
We Must Be Careful Not To Boast In Great Things Of Ourselves:
"The tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!" (James 3:5, NKJV)
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the Lord." (Jeremiah 9:23-24, NKJV)
2) Our Stone of Remembrance.
(a) The Stone Which The Builders Rejected (Matthew 21:42-44; Ac.4:10-12; Eph.2:20; 1Pet.2:4-8)
1. A stone placed at the corner, or the intersecting angle, where two walls of a building come together. In biblical times, buildings were often made of cut, squared stone. By uniting two intersecting walls, a cornerstone helped align the whole building and tie it together.
2. In his address before the Jewish Sanhedrin, the apostle Peter quoted Psalm 118:22 and boldly proclaimed that “Jesus Christ of Nazareth,” crucified and raised from the dead, was the stone rejected by the builders who has now become the chief cornerstone (Acts 4:11; capstone, NIV; Eph. 2:20).
3. This chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ, is the foundation of the church, because “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). In Him “the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Eph. 2:21). All who believe in Jesus find a solid Rock on which to build their lives.
4. Jesus is scourged and beaten / (Matthew 28:15-56)
5. Jesus is buried / The Stone in front of the tomb (Matthew 28:57-66)
6. Jesus is risen / The Stone is rolled away (Matthew 28:1-20)
7. Do this in remembrance of Me (1 Cor.11:23-26)
(b) It Was A Stone Of Recognition, A Stone For The Present (Psalm 46:1).
1. “Thus far the Lord has helped us” — The Israelites knew that the Lord has been with them all the way & He was the one responsible for getting them to this point
2. We do not stand in this place of prominence because of our great wisdom above others. This great church does not stand as a monument to wise strategy sessions, or the power of positive confessions.
3. This is not the fulfillment of a dream or ambition of men.
4. This church stands as a monument to the power of Jesus Christ to build His church, using the foolish and simple things in order to confound the wise.
5. This is the work of God and it is marvelous in our eyes.
(c) It Was A Stone Of Revelation, A Stone For The Future.
1. God's help in the past is only a prophesy of His help in the future.
2. God has not brought me this far to drop me, dump me, to let me go, or forsake me. Having brought me this far, God is going to take me all the way.
3. He hasn’t begun a good work in me, just to give it up. “He who has begun a good work in you shall continue to perform it until He brings it to completion.” “Now unto Him who is able to keep you from falling.” But then, Jude went on to say, “And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory.”
4. If the LORD has brought me this far, then He is going to take me all the way. All the way into the presence of His glory, and is able to present you faultless. The glorious work that God has begun in our lives, He is going to continue as we yield ourselves unto Him. As we remain surrendered to Him, He’s going to take us all the way.
2. The Lord Restores (7:13-17)
a) The hand of the Lord was against the Philistines… Israel’s cities were restored (v.13-14)
1) What Satan Has Taken Away, the Lord Can Restore
The word translated “restore” literally means “repair, mend, or refurbish.” It conveys the idea of bringing something damaged back to its former condition.
1. It is the same word used in Matthew 4:21 to speak of James and John mending their nets. It also appears in 1 Corinthians 1:10, where it speaks of reuniting two factions, like the setting of a broken bone. In that verse, the King James Version translates the word with the expression “perfectly joined together.”
2. Matthew 12:9-14; Galatians 6:1
2) Comparison Between Samuel And Samson.
Samuel was not a military man, but he was just as successful, or more successful, than Israel’s best generals, because the LORD fought for Samuel.
1. Compare Samuel - a humble, spiritually minded judge
2. To Samson, who was a compromising, carnal judge.
3. Samuel seemed so much weaker, and Samson seemed so much stronger, but who was more effective in leading Israel into victory over their enemies?
1) There was peace between Israel and the Amorites (v.14)
2) Samuel travels throughout Israel, serving as judge over the people (v.15-17)
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?
(a) 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).
(b) 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!