April 9: 1 Samuel 4-8
8 And the people 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.” 9 So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. And Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. 10 As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were routed before Israel. 11 And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car.
12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” 13 So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 14 The cities that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath, and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines.
1 Samuel 7:8-14, English Standard Version
So much is covered in these five chapters of 1 Samuel that I encourage you to take the time to read them all.
The Philistines continued to rule over the Israelites for several years until finally the Israelites went to Samuel lamenting after the Lord.
3 And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.
1 Samuel 7:3-4
As Christians, we can often look back over our lives and find times when we drifted away from the Lord. Many times some singular event broke us from our wandering and caused us to return to the Lord. That is exactly what happened here for the Israelites.
Before going to battle they pleaded with 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.” In response, the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were routed before Israel. . . . Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer [rock of help] ; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.”
Samuel set up the rock, Ebenezer, so that whenever Israel looked upon the rock, they would remember the miraculous way in which God delivered them from the Philistines.
What is your Ebenezer? As you look back over your Christian life, ponder the times when you felt the overpowering help of the Lord through some very difficult times. Think of the grace God has given you to go through seemingly impossible circumstances.
The hymnist said it well,
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constraned to be;
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
Robert Robinson, 1758
God Bless You,