For the next 20 years, no important events happened in Israel. Israel had no national leader; the army from Philistia (called the Philistines) ruled Israel. They kept the country poor; they took away any valuable things for themselves. After the two defeats in 1 Samuel 4:1-11, Israelís men were too weak to oppose the Philistines.
The people in Israel were serving false gods. They kept small images of Baal (a male god) and Ashtoreth (a female god). They prayed to these gods for large families and successful farms. If they had more sons, Israel would have an army again. Then they could defeat the Philistines and they would not still be so poor. That was why they wanted these things.
Because the people were so poor, they started to ask about Israelís God, the real God, again. They could not serve God at Shiloh still; nobody considered that place still to be holy. God had left it (Psalm 78:59-64).
So, the people went to Samuel. They remembered how God had spoken by means of him in the past (3:19-21).† They asked him how they could serve God.
Samuel told them that they must serve only the real God (Deuteronomy 5:6-10). They must not keep their false gods. They must trust God alone to save them from their enemies.
The people in Israel followed Samuelís advice. They organised a great meeting at Mizpah. It was a very serious occasion. They did not eat on that day; they confessed their evil deeds to God. They poured out water to express their desperate state in front of God (see Lamentations 2:19). They depended on God; only he could help them now.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.