Call to Worship May 2 2021

Expository Thoughts on 1 Samuel 7

After disobedience, chastisement, and frowning providence, “Israel lamented after the LORD” (1 Samuel 7:2). They lost the Ark, which represented the loss of God’s presence. They lost favor with YAHWEH in defeat to the Philistines according to their sin. They lost recognition of their singular reliance in all of heaven and earth. So many years were spent in idolatry and all its sinful practices that God did not allow His people to find rest. Sadly this reminder would be needed again, but God brought Israel to a recognition of the folly of self-reliance and self-righteousness. They were soberly reminded of the holiness of God by the return of the Ark. God used trial and death to remind them that He alone was their only refuge in all of existence. 

They now turned in repentance of their sins toward Yahweh, the one true living God. This repentance was a long time (20 years) in preparation. Once it commenced the people were prepared to turn to the LORD and forsake all other gods. The repentance spoken of in these passages has not only lament, but serious actions. “Genuine repentance…is a tangible repentance. It does not stop with tears and weeping, but moves to concrete action: ‘put away your foreign gods.’ True repentance will meet Yahweh’s demand for exclusive allegiance with whatever it takes to obey it.”[1] God truly is a jealous God and has that right by measure of His holiness. All other gods are images of imagination and handmade. Yet, the one eternal living God has commanded that He alone is to be obeyed and worshipped in a corporate setting and in all of life. 

Israel turned to the LORD in repentance and the LORD delivered them from their enemies. Their understanding of God’s holiness propelled their activity. They listened to the word preached by Samuel. They heeded God’s word and removed the idols. Israel went before the LORD in prayer and fasting. They recognized God was their only hope in the matters of everyday life including protection. He would aid them on this earth and keep them in death according to His covenant promise. So, when the Philistines heard the news of Israel’s gathering at Mizpah, they took this opportunity to remind Israel who was in charge of the land. Yet this time Israel called upon God alone. They pleaded with God’s man to intercede on their behalf. God aided, protected, and delivered them from the Philistines and they raised their “Ebenezer.” 

The Old Testament is not alone in this teaching of God’s holiness, repentance, and walking according to the Lord’s commandments. Remember the Lord Jesus made the same claim of His holiness. He said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30 NAU).  Furthermore, He stated, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37-38 NAU). Therefore, Christ requires no less than God the Father. We must worship Him according to revealed truth about His person and work. We must follow the express commands of scripture, which Christ has not abolished, but fulfilled. We must confess and repent of our sin with genuine lament and serious actions in accordance with our repentance (I John 2:1-12). Through Christ alone the holiness of God is revealed and upheld before men. 

The Lord Jesus is the one we must plead to in prayer. Samuel was a representative priest and Jesus is the only High Priest. He is the one who intercedes on behalf of believers before the heavenly Father. Remember the believer’s “Ebenezer” is the cross. It was there that the perfect Son of God was sacrificed. At Calvary Jesus procured the only help for sinners through His shed blood. It was at the cross that the Father’s holy wrath was poured upon His Son. It was there that God’s chosen people were delivered from their enemies: Satan, the world, and the flesh. Sin lost its complete dominion upon God’s people and death lost its sting upon His resurrection. May we never forget the gospel is our daily Ebenezer for Christ alone is our only true help in this fallen world. Soli Deo Gloria!  

[1] Dale Ralph Davis, I Samuel: Looking on the Heart, (Christian Focus Pub., 2014.), 55.