1 Samuel 7:5-11 “As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel…”
I’m guilty of far too often reading my Bible as just words in a book. If I’m really being honest, sometimes the book doesn’t keep my attention and it becomes more like an exercise of “can I pronounce all these words?” Especially with the Old Testament! I know it can get overwhelming, but this morning the Bible came to life in this story! It became an epic battle scene that wouldn’t make it into a Hollywood movie because people today wouldn’t believe it could happen… but this is a true story, people!! It really happened!
Reading through this story of 1 Samuel it seems like another episode of the people obey God, rebel, God lets them be rebellious, they see life without God and ask for His forgiveness. But then in chapter 7 there is a twist in the pattern. The people are trying to repent of their rebellion and so all the people of Israel meet in a place called Mizpah and repent together to make themselves right with God. The hard part is their enemies, the Philistines, find out they’re all in one place and seize the opportunity to attack them all at once.
So we pick up in this verse where Samuel the prophet is crying out to God on his people’s behalf and their giant enemies (the same people who spawned Goliath… of David and Goliath) are charging the area planning to kill them all! This isn’t a calm scene. This is a real life, ultimate terror, hopeless situation. They even ask Samuel to “not cease to cry out to the Lord… that he may save us…” (v. 8) because they knew without God’s help they were going to die.
I imagine Philistines banging on doors and people screaming all around (my imagination, not Bible) and yet there is Samuel, “offering up the burnt offering”. This makes no sense! By all logic he is about to die, but he doesn’t focus on his circumstance, he fixes his eyes on his Heavenly Father and trusts Him.
I want that kind of faith! I want to focus on the Lord so much that no matter what is going on in my life or the lives of my loved ones, I will not be shaken. I want to trust Jesus so much that I would be willing to put myself in a situation like Samuel’s where my life would be over if God didn’t answer my prayers.
Spoiler alert: God heard Samuel. He confused the Philistines and Israel “pursued the Philistines and struck them”. God showed up! Speaking from someone who has been placed, often involuntarily, in positions where I had to trust God because I had no other option… He always shows up! He loves you and He loves me too much not to! It doesn’t matter what mess is in your life or how deep you feel like you are. If you are willing to give God your relationships, career, kids, lifestyle, your everything, He will show up. It might not look like you wanted or expected it to, but He promises never to leave or forsake you and God can’t break His promises, nor would He want to.
Today, I don’t know what chaos is surrounding you. I don’t know if you have your own Philistines creeping up to your door or if the chaos has already hit and you feel under attack every day whether internally or externally. One thing I know is the same God who heard Samuel is listening for you. He wants to step in and save the day, that is what every good dad does! So pray. Believe. And watch God work!