We know from reading through the book of Judges how God raised up leaders for a certain victory and to watch over a certain region. After all the Israelites have been through with the fiasco surrounding the Ark of the Covenant, the people were feeling abandoned by God. By using Samuel in this way, God let the people know his power was still with them.
Thankfully, the people understood the seriousness of the situation and heeded Samuel’s advice. “Turn your hearts to the Lord and obey him alone; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” The day the people gathered at Mizpah, for what sounds like a revival of sorts, was the day Samuel was appointed as judge.
Just when it seemed like the Israelites were getting their bearings with their faith, so to speak, they heard the Philistines were on the move. Fear gripped them. Memories of past defeats began to loom large, and yet the people sought God’s rescue through Samuel.
I loved how God showed up that day. “But the Lord spoke with a mighty voice of thunder from heaven that day, and the Philistines were thrown into such confusion that the Israelites defeated them.” We don’t hear God’s voice so profoundly on a regular basis. I’m sure the people were as surprised as the Philistines, and yet it was music to their ears.
We know that Samuel’s mother, Hannah, had dedicated Samuel to the Lord. It is good to see that Samuel took that seriously and lived his life honoring God. We’ve got a lot more to learn about Samuel’s life, so don’t let the way this chapter closes disturb you. Think of it like the close to Act I.
My biggest takeaway from today’s reading is the immediacy of answered prayer. Rather than act afraid of the threat of the Philistines, Samuel continued the conversation with God. “So Samuel took a young lamb and offered it to the Lord as a whole burnt offering. He pleaded with the Lord to help Israel, and the Lord answered him.”
Don’t you sometimes wish that God would answer your prayers as quickly? In the face of our own battles, we need to cling to what Samuel knew. God is faithful. He will answer our prayers, but perhaps not in the way we had hoped. Trusting God to know what’s best for us is easier when we remember his faithfulness.
We might want to take a closer look at how we pray. What do our prayers look like? Do we plead with God only when the situation is dire and life threatening? Do we humble ourselves before him and bring a sacrifice of our praise (instead of a young lamb)? Sit quietly with God a little longer today.
Let’s pray …
Father God, thank you for each answered prayer. You are faithful and full of mercy. Help me to be watching for your movement in my midst. I want to follow and obey you. Open my heart to be ready to serve you in ways that you desire. In Jesus’ name. Amen.