1 Samuel 7:3-17
After whatever was going on in 1 Samuel 6, Samuel rose up as one last judge over Israel. Considering the fact that Samuel was very similar to a judge and that he immediately called for Israel to repent before God, it is obvious that Israel had drifted from God. Again, I am not sure what their role should have been when the Ark had been captured, but once they had received it back, they did end up in disobedience to God. After a great number of men had been killed, they went into 20 years of mourning, and from what Samuel says at the beginning of 1 Samuel 7, they must have also remained in disobedience. Nevertheless, after Samuel’s requests, Israel changed their attitudes and actions and turned back to God, putting away their idols.
Samuel then asked that they all gather at Mizpah as one nation so that he could pray over them. Once Israel was gathered together as one, the Philistines decided that it was time to attack once again. Israel became fearful that the Philistines would destroy them, so they asked Samuel to continue to pray for their safety. Samuel cried out to God and asked for protection, and God answered his prayers. As the Philistines drew closer to Israel, God struck them all with confusion. They changed their plans and went off in a different direction, allowing Israel to pursue them and destroy them (at least that group of Philistines).
After their defeat, the Philistines gave up on trying to take control of Israel. As long as Samuel was the judge over Israel, the Philistines stayed away. Furthermore, they gave up all the lands that they had already captured, and all of Israel’s lands were restored to them. The text does not mention how long Samuel judged in the land of Israel, but he was their judge until the day that he died. One reason as to why it is not mentioned is possibly due to the rise of Israel’s first king, which will be discussed in 1 Samuel 8. Nevertheless, Israel found themselves in a time of peace once again under the leadership of Samuel.
At this point God had not only revealed Himself to the Philistines, showing them His power, but He also showed Israel that He was still their Protector. He was not going to allow any nation to come in and destroy His chosen people. Of course, He still expected obedience from them, and when they became disobedient He continued to punish them. But God wanted Israel to remember that He was their ultimate leader. He was the one that they could depend on no matter what. They had had leaders such as Moses and Joshua and even a series of judges to rule over them since the time that they had left Egypt, but even their earthly leaders were submissive to God’s will. God chose to use different men to lead His nation, but He really did not need anyone to do that since He was their leader, their Judge, and their King. All God was to Israel, He is still today. We can trust that He still watches out for us. We may not see it as clearly as Israel did in these supernatural stories, but even Israel did not recognize God’s power in those miraculous events. God is still at work around us, and He is still our ultimate authority. As His children, we must never forget those truths, and we must remain obedient to His commands.