“Restore us, O God of our salvation, And cause Your anger toward us to cease.” -Psalms 85:4 NKJV
At the beginning of the seventh chapter of 1 Samuel, we read about the men of Kirjath-jearim going to fetch the Ark of the Lord. They bring it into the house of Abinadab, where it stays for twenty years. The Ark had been taken by Israel’s enemy, the Philistines, and it had stayed in their land for seven months.
In verse three, Samuel pleads with Israel and urges them to RETURN to the Lord with all of their hearts. During the period of the judges, Israel had gone off into sin and apostasy, and now God’s prophet calls them to repent.
Samuel commands Israel to put away or REMOVE the idols from among themselves and prepare their hearts to serve the Lord only. If they obey in this, Samuel says that God will deliver them out of the hand of the Philistines.
They then gather at Mizpeh and pour out water before the Lord, fast, and confess that, “We have sinned against the Lord.” The children of Israel RECOGNIZE AND CONFESS THEIR SIN to the Lord.
When the Philistines hear that the children of Israel are at Mizpeh, they go up to attack Israel. Afraid, the children of Israel REQUEST PRAYER from Samuel. They tell Samuel not to cease crying out to the Lord so that God will save them from the Philistines. Samuel then takes a suckling lamb and makes a burnt offering to the Lord, and cries out to the Lord.
The Lord then thunders upon the Philistines, and God ROUTS THE ENEMY. Israel pursues the Philistines and smites them all the way to Beth-car. Samuel takes a stone called Ebenezer (literally Stone of Help), and sets it up between Mizpeh and Shen to help Israel to REMEMBER how God had delivered them.
God also RESTORES to Israel the cities– from Ekron to Gath–that the Philistines had taken from them. The Philistines are subdued and no longer come into the coasts of Israel. So God relieves Israel from the oppression of their enemy.
Here we have a great pattern for us to follow. When we have sinned against the Lord, we should return to Him, remove the idols, confess our sins, pray for restoration, and then let God fight our battles. When God delivers us, we should remember what He has done for us and give Him thanks.
What a gracious and merciful God we serve that He would be so kind and forgiving toward us! It is because of what Jesus did on the cross, when He paid for our sins, that God shows us mercy. The risen Savior offers us deliverance from sin, death, and hell; He offers us new life and the ultimate restoration–eternal life with Him in heaven. Praise the Lord, our great Deliverer.