10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites.
The history of Israel is not unlike our own personal history. Like us, sometimes they were faithful, but at other times, they turned their backs on God to pursue other gods. Samuel was judge over Israel and urged the people to abandon the foreign gods they served. This they did to worship God alone. Samuel assembled the people together and they fasted, confessing their sins.
The Philistines, ever the biblical “bad guys”, decided that while Israel was gathering for prayer, they would attack. The Israelites, learning of the imminent attack, were justifiably afraid of being massacred, and pleaded with Samuel to keep praying for them. Samuel took a lamb to sacrifice before the Lord, crying out to the Lord, and God heard their prayers. The Philistines drew near, but they did not expect that God would intervene in a powerful way with thunderous noise, and they were thrown into a panic. The Israelites took advantage of their confusion and vanquished them so thoroughly that the Philistines were subdued for a long time.
Would you not expect that following this miraculous intervention by God, that they would enjoy a long time of close fellowship with God, walking in his ways and following his commands? Unfortunately, as we will see in following chapters, this did not happen. And what of us? We draw near to God when God has done something that greatly helps us, but that appreciation soon fades, along with our faith and earnest desire to serve God. Jesus once denounced cities in which his miracles had been performed, because even then, they did not repent. God is not a showman, a magician, a performer for us to awe over. God is our maker, who loves us and forgives us, who sent Jesus to take our sins upon himself to redeem us, who wants us to listen, love and obey God in return.
Gracious and loving God, Father of us all, set our hearts in harmony with yours – wanting what you want, living as you wish, and giving you the glory. Let our love deepen and grow, not because something has happened the way we wish, but because you deserve all our praise. In Christ we pray, Amen.