1 Samuel 7
Then all the people of Israel turned back to the Lord. 3 So Samuel said to all the Israelites, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only.
5 Then Samuel said, “Assemble all Israel at Mizpah, and I will intercede with the Lord for you.” 6 When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.” Now Samuel was serving as leader of Israel at Mizpah.
7 When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. 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 sacrificed it 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. 11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar.
For Israel, Kings were not in God’s Plan A; He intended them to be a theocracy, with God as King and His priests His representatives. But instead people (even the priests) went their own way and it took God sending Judges periodically to get the people out of the sticky messes they got themselves in. Samuel was not so much an early prophet as the last judge.
In the pattern of the judges, he led Israel to victory over their enemies, not this time by brawn (Sampson), or brains (Ehud), but by godly example, repentance and faith. They were terrified of a big Philistine incursion, but once the people had done their part in repenting and getting rid of false gods (v2-7), Samuel did his part in prayer and intercession (v8-9), and God did His part: He basically said “boo!” and the Philistines ran away (v10).
It really does not take much for God to do His part in dealing with whatever situations and problems we have made for ourselves. He is God, after all. All we have to do is return to Him in truth, speaking the truth (confession v6) and acting in truth (doing away with what we know to be wrong v3), then in His grace He will act.
As easy as that? Well, let’s remember that the real price in 1 Sam 7 was paid by the suckling lamb in v9; for us the Lamb of God, Jesus, on the cross. Neither easy nor cheap.
How many times God has heard my cries for help in one situation or another, yet all that was really needed was for me to truly “return to the Lord with all my heart”, because the Lamb has already been sacrificed.