SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- The ark of the Lord was taken to Kiriath Jearim and remained there for 20 years.
- The Israelites finally seemed ready to return to God. They rid themselves of foreign gods and idols so they could serve the Lord only. At Mizpah, the Israelites confessed their sin.
- Samuel, now a grown man, becomes Israel's leader (verse 6) and judge (verse 15). Samuel was the last in a long line of Israel's judges. God was Israel's true leader, while the judge was to be God's spokesman to the people.
- Noticing the Israelites return to unity and spiritual commitment, the Philistines set out to attack them. God gave the Israelites a decisive victory. During Samuel's lifetime Israel also gained back the land the Philistines had previously captured.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Idols today are much more subtle than gods of wood and stone, but they are just as dangerous. Whatever holds first place in our lives or controls us is our god. Money, success, material goods, pride, or anything else can be an idol if it takes the place of God in our lives.
- Memorials can help us remember God's past victories and gain confidence and strength for the present. After finally defeating the Philistines, Samuel set up a stone as a memorial of God's great help and deliverance. This would serve as an ongoing visual reminder for the Israelites of God's faithfulness in the past.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- Do you have any "foreign gods" in your life that threaten the priority of God in your life? God alone is worthy of our service and worship, and we must let nothing rival Him. Ask God to help you dethrone anything that distracts you from Him, making Him your first priority.
- When has God helped you in the past? What can you do to remember God's deliverance from past difficulties? During tough times, it's helpful to remember crucial turning points in your past to help you through the present.