Friday after the Third Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: 1 Samuel 7:1-17 (NKJV)
7:1 Then the men of Kirjath Jearim came and took the ark of the Lord, and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and consecrated Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the Lord.
2 So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years. And all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.
3 Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only.
5 And Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” 6 So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured it out before the Lord. And they fasted that day, and said there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the children of Israel at Mizpah.
7 Now when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel had gathered together at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8 So the children of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines.”
9 And Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. Then Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. 10 Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the Lord thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel. 11 And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below Beth Car.
12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”
13 So the Philistines were subdued, and they did not come anymore into the territory of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 14 Then the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered its territory from the hands of the Philistines. Also there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.
15 And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16 He went from year to year on a circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, and judged Israel in all those places. 17 But he always returned to Ramah, for his home was there. There he judged Israel, and there he built an altar to the Lord.
Luther says that God sometimes pulls away from His children to the point that they will think He has abandoned them. He does this to (1) keep His people from putting trust in themselves, (2) give an example to others, to shake the self-confident and comfort those who are afraid, and (3) teach His saints where they should seek true peace.
When Israel trusted in the location of the Ark, God pulled back and allowed the Israelites to be overtaken by the Philistines. The Ark of the Covenant is, eventually, returned to Israel, but the Philistines dare to go up against them again. Notice Israel does not rely on the Ark for protection, yet a fear of the Philistines exists. Having been rightly focused by God, however, the Israelites reveal where trust should be placed. They ask Samuel to cry out to the Lord, that He may save them. Their strength only comes from the Lord.
Amidst our own sinful mistrust God sometimes mercifully pulls back to rightly focus us. Thus, as our cries for mercy go up to the Lord, He brings us to trust in the strength that He alone supplies—the fully atoning merits of Christ Jesus! Only through Him is there sure comfort and true peace!
We pray: O God, the protector of all who trust in You, without whom nothing is strong and nothing is holy, multiply Your mercy on us that, with You as our Ruler and Guide, we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.