“So the Israelites got rid of their images of Baal and Ashtoreth and worshiped only the Lord. Then Samuel told them, ‘Gather all of Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.’ So they gathered at Mizpah and, in a great ceremony, drew water from a well and poured it out before the Lord. They also went without food all day and confessed that they had sinned against the Lord. (It was at Mizpah that Samuel became Israel’s judge.) When the Philistine rulers heard that Israel had gathered at Mizpah, they mobilized their army and advanced. The Israelites were badly frightened when they learned that the Philistines were approaching. ‘Don’t stop pleading with the Lord our God to save us from the Philistines!’ they begged Samuel. 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.


Just as Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines arrived to attack Israel. 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. The men of Israel chased them from Mizpah to a place below Beth-car, slaughtering them all along the way. Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, ‘Up to this point the Lord has helped us!’


So the Philistines were subdued and didn’t invade Israel again for some time. And throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the Lord’s powerful hand was raised against the Philistines.  1 Samuel 7:5-13 (NLT)



The Israelites were in a vulnerable position. They had repented of their waywardness and fasted before the Lord. The Philistines saw this gathering at Mizpah as an opportunity to win a huge battle. They had already experienced attacks from the Philistines that resulted in the ark of God being taken. Now the people were afraid of what would happen this time. Samuel prayed for God to intervene on behalf of the people. When it seemed that time had run out, God showed up in an unexpected way. Samuel couldn’t have asked God to help through a mighty clap of thunder, because God hadn’t answered in that way before. Samuel simply asked God to help, and God decided on His method. The Israelites still had to fight the Philistines, but God was already giving them the victory. The Israelites would have been hungry and tired. So God did what Samuel and the Israelites couldn’t do, and He enabled them to do what they could do. Samuel commemorated God’s victory by setting up a stone as a memorial. He didn’t want the people to forget God’s ability and willingness to help His people.

God may not always deliver us from the battles we face, but He always equips us to walk through them. You may be facing a battle that has created anxiety and fear in your heart. Instead of worrying and letting it steal your peace, sleep, and joy, ask God to help you. God starts working in response to our prayers. Isn’t it just like God to show up in an unexpected way? When we leave the “how” to God, we set ourselves up to experience the creative power of our God. Asking God to help us in our time of need positions us to experience Him in new ways. Just because you have not experienced it before doesn’t mean God can’t do it. If He can make thunder disband an army, He can do anything to help you.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. 

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About Hona Amer

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