|When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. And when the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. 8 They said to Samuel, "Do not stop crying out to the LORD our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines." 9 Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it up as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. He cried out to the LORD on Israel's behalf, and the LORD answered him. |
10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the LORD thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. (1Samuel7:7-10)
Unfortunately for the Philistines, twenty years had caused them to forget the chaos which the Ark, which represented Almighty God's presence, had wrought in their midst. They thought they could attack Israel and Israel's God again.
When they heard of the Israelites gathering at Mizpah for worship, they decided to take advantage of the situation as the men would have been far from their homes and would only be lightly armed. It was a cowardly and evil act.
The Israelites are afraid. But this time they don't take the ark into battle - they don't resort to manipulation - but instead, they ask Samuel to cry out to God for them. They put their trust in God.
And God answers them! He goes out against the Philistines and utterly defeats them.
There is a subtle but important shift here.
Twenty years previously the Israelites had presumed that God must rescue them and they used the Ark as a remote control or even a hostage to "coerce" God to save them. But their hearts were far from God and God allowed the Ark to be captured to teach them not to presume or manipulate.
Now, they ask Samuel to ask God to rescue them. They are not demanding or coercing, they're simply trusting in God. And God reveals His great glory and power!
We can learn a lot from this...