First Samuel 7 Commentary
What may easily escape our attention is the fact that Samuel served as Israel’s Judge for a very long time. He had also served as a priest during his formative years under Chief Priest Eli. It is however his pastoral work that has been so extensively covered that many only know him as the prophet of God. This chapter takes a very quick swipe over the many years that Samuel served as Israel’s Judge. You could lift this chapter and insert it in the Book of Judges without creating a mess!
Unlike Eli the Chief priest, Samuel has the sense to advise the nation on the correct response to foreign oppression: genuine repentance and a return to the true worship of the Creator God. He is very different from the other judges that the LORD has used before. None of them had the sense to understand sin as Israel’s core enemy.
The people oblige and we have peace during Samuel’s tenure as Judge of Israel. The battle at Mizpah is an important one as the LORD intervenes. The LORD would be generous throughout the lifetime of Samuel. Not only was aggression from the Philistines stopped, but Israel also went ahead and recovered lost territories.
Ebenezer is so named to highlight the victory of God’s people over their enemies. But it is God’s victory. The contrast being highlighted here is that at Mizpah, genuine repentance brought victory. But at Shiloh, idolatry, and sin, exemplified by Hophni and Phinehas; and false worship, exemplified by the Ark’s presence in battle, failed to secure the intervention of the LORD.
Ebenezer is a statement that reflects the prophet’s thoughts on the many victories that the LORD enabled Israel to experience. The many years of oppression had come to an end at Ebenezer. It speaks of both relief and joy. It served as a Launchpad for further recoveries.
The Ark remained at Kiriath Jearim for 20 years. The LORD continued to work in the life of Samuel, but not from in between the Ark’s cherubim. It should be everyone’s ambition to experience the LORD’S workings in the field of their vocations. Let the temple teach you how to hear the voice of the LORD but real work is out there where we need to exercise holiness. It is out there where we need to tell the world that their problems require genuine repentance and a return to the true worship of the LORD.
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