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Thus far the Lord has helped us-- thoughts from 1 Samuel 7
Thus far the Lord has helped us
Thoughts from 1 Samuel 7

Last week we considered the circumstances surrounding the birth of Samuel- Israel's last judge before Israel came to be ruled by kings.

Since the birth of Samuel- to 1 Samuel 7 (where we are going to look today)- this is what has happened

a. The Israelites were attacked by the Philistines and lost
b. As part of their defeat, the Ark of the Lord (which they marched into battle with-- in a twisted attempt to manipulate God to act for them) was captured
c. On the day the Ark was captured Eli and his sons died-- resulting in Samuel becoming the new leader of the people (though not much is heard from Samuel until 20 years later)
d. The Philistines kept the Ark for about 7 months. During this time God afflicted them with tumors, rats, and all sorts of hardship. Finally (after putting together an elaborate test to see if their troubles were from God or were just a big coincidence) the Philistines returned the Ark to the Israelites mindful of what God did to the Pharaoh and the Egyptians when they refused to let Israel go (1 Samuel 6:6)

Now for 1 Samuel 7

-We learn that for 20 years the Ark was being kept in a house in the forest of Kiriath Jearim
-Over the course of these 20 years a group of people called the Philistines (who controlled 5 big cities on the coastline) oppressed the Israelites. The Philistines had superior weaponry to the Israelites (being skilled in iron works).
-During these 20 years (and more than that) the Israelites did their own thing -- even worshipping the false gods of the Philistines. Finally, by the preaching of Samuel and the convicting work of God- the Israelites realized that going against God and doing their own thing only brought them heart ache--- the result: a national time of repentance--- How amazing that would be here in Canada!

Something very Interesting: And we shall see this in a moment-- While the nation gathers, under the leadership of Samuel, in repentance that they might recommit themselves to God, the Philistines took that as an opportunity to attack them. As weak and defenseless as they were (for they had not gathered for war but for worship) God acted on their behalf and saved them. The end result was that the power of the Philistines was broken. To commemorate God's deliverance and how all success, achievement, and blessing owes itself to God, Samuel sets up a stone- calling it "Ebenezer" which means "The stone of help" saying "Thus far the Lord has helped us"



1. God's grace is amazing! Despite 20 plus years of doing their own thing, God took the Israelites back, forgiving them of their sin and restoring to them the land the Philistines had taken from them v.2

Thief on the cross. Backsliding Christians. God's grace is amazing

I know some folks, you know some folks who right now are far from God-- who don't care about his ways- who maybe did at one point. It's not too late for them! If they repent, God will take them to Himself and back.

2. While disobedience to God brings discipline and hardship, repentance with obedience brings restoration and blessing. See 4,14

Israel's deliverance, her freedom from her oppressors only came after she confessed her sins and repented (threw away her idols)

For us to be blessed by God- we must do His will, we must deal with the sin in our lives, we must obey Him

3. When a person follows God, it must be from the heart v.3

God is not about externals--- It's the heart plus real obedience that matter

We are called to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind- such is the greatest command of God (Deuteronomy 6:5; Matthew 22:37)

4. God is always true to His word

Samuel to the people-- v.3 - if you repent, if you turn back to the Lord and follow Him from your heart, God will deliver you out of the hands of the Philistines.

Immediately there is a test of this promise-- AND God comes through! See v.10

5. Samuel, in his intercession for the people stands as a type for Christ. See v.8-9

I John 2:1-2 says; "My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."

6. The lamb that Samuel took and offered as a burnt offering to the Lord points to Jesus and His sacrifice for our sins v.9

Lamb offered as a burnt offering-- A gift to God, either in thanksgiving or for atonement for sin.

JESUS-- the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Jesus who died in our stead as a sacrifice/offering of atonement for our sin. (John 1:29)

The call of Jesus and the Bible- put your faith in Christ. Turn to him for the forgiveness of your sin-- for it is found in nothing and no one else.

7. God has a way a continually showing himself to be the ONE TRUE GOD v.10

"But the LORD thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel" v.10

How does God show Himself, yet again that He is the One True God? He acts against the Philistines in a manner that the Philistines claimed their god acted. Baal- thought to be the god/master of thunder and rain.

By His actions God shows Baal to be a false god and Himself to be the true God. This is now the third time in third time in three chapters that God has demonstrated such to the Philistines a. When they put the Ark in the temple of their false god Dagon (Dagon fell over in the night and his hands were broken b. The elaborate test of sending the Ark home on a cart hauled by mother cows -- test designed to see whether the tumors and plague of rats were from God or were a big coincidence c. Now the thunder!

We are not to worry about the haters and those who disdain God's name. We are to stay faithful. Satan is a defeated foe. God will vindicate himself and deal with the wicked. In the meantime we are love and serve others in the name of Christ- praying that they might be saved.

There is one true God. The God of the Bible. We are to worship, serve, love, and obey Him alone


In v.12 Samuel does something really important when he sets up the stone at Mizpah-- the stone he called "Ebenezer" saying "Till now the LORD has helped us" or "Thus far the LORD has helped us"

Note: 20 years before the Israelites had suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of the Philistines at Mizpah. Now, because of God, the Israelites saved at the very same place.

This stone: A visible reminder that God was their God, He their helper, He there source of strength. The stone a monument to God's faithful and love.

When a parent with their children would see this stone they would be able to recount what God had done for them right there-- a likewise remember what was required for the victory that day-- being right with God.


It's good for us to keep a record and or regularly reflect on what he has done for us. Sometimes keeping a token or memento of God's grace and work in our life is important (I really should go get a piece of my little black car and if I could of the Dodge Spirit- for they both were gifts from the Lord

Sometimes its hard for us in the moment to see what God is doing in our lives, but think back over the span of years. Ponder where you have been and what the Lord has done for you. In my own life I can think back to when I started out from home at age 18. A lot has happened over the last 26 years (married, children, home, church, etc) When I think about this I can see how the hand of God has been upon our lives -- helping us, protecting us, carrying us, blessing us, teaching us, refining us. I have a lot to be thankful for-- and it's all a good reminder to keep on being faithful, to keep on pursuing after Christ and holiness.

Might I encourage you to do a little self review of your time in Christ. I'd also encourage you to collect some mementoes or keep a journal of God's goodness along the way-- things that you purposefully choose that are connected to God's work in your life. Collect them, keep them (but don't idolize them), and use them as reminders of His great love.

When I think of the statement "Thus far the Lord has helped us/me" I'm encouraged. I'm also strengthened for I know that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion. God has helped me/us. He will continue to me/us-- our role- stay faithful, stay true, keep on with Christ.


Song to sing

Come thou fount of every blessing
One true God