Samuel rules in Israel
2 The Covenant Box stayed at Kiriath Jearim for a long time. It was there for 20 years. During this time, the Israelites were sad. They prayed for the Lord to help them again.
3 Then Samuel said to all the Israelite people, ‘If you truly want to turn back to the Lord, you must show that you mean it. You must remove all your foreign gods and the images of Ashtoreth. You must give your lives completely to the Lord. You must worship only the Lord. If you do that, he will save you from the power of the Philistines.’
7:3Ashtoreth was a false god that the Canaanite people worshipped.
4 So the Israelites removed all their idols of the false gods called Baal and Ashtoreth. They only worshipped the Lord.
5 Then Samuel told all the Israelites, ‘Meet together at Mizpah. I will pray to the Lord for you there.’
6 So they all met together at Mizpah. They got water from a well and they poured it out for the Lord. They did not eat food that day. They prayed and they said, ‘We have done bad things against the Lord.’
Samuel became leader of the Israelite people at Mizpah.
7 The Philistines heard the news that the Israelites had met together at Mizpah. So the Philistine rulers led their people to attack the Israelites. When the Israelites heard about this, they became very afraid of the Philistines. 8 They said to Samuel, ‘Pray to the Lord our God. Do not stop. Ask him to help us. Ask him to save us from the Philistines.’ 9 So Samuel took a baby lamb. He gave it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. Samuel asked the Lord to help the Israelites. The Lord answered his prayer in this way:
10 While Samuel was giving the burnt offerings to the Lord, the Philistines moved nearer to attack the Israelites. But the Lord caused a very loud noise of thunder to frighten the Philistines. They became very confused and they started to run away from the Israelites. 11 Then the Israelite men came out from Mizpah. They chased the Philistines as far as a place near Beth-Kar. They killed the Philistines as they chased them.
12 After that, Samuel took a stone. He fixed it in the ground between Mizpah and Shen. He called the stone Ebenezer. He said, ‘The Lord has helped us all this way.’
7:12Ebenezer means ‘stone of help’. Samuel put up this stone to give honour to God as Israel's helper.
13 That is how the Israelites won the fight against the Philistines. The Philistines did not attack Israel's land again. All the time that Samuel was alive, the Lord stopped the Philistines from attacking Israel.
14 The Israelites took back the towns and the land that the Philistines had taken from them. These towns were between Ekron and Gath. Also, the Israelites and the Amorites did not fight against each other.
15 Samuel continued to be the leader of the Israelites while he was alive. 16 Every year, he travelled to Bethel, Gilgal and Mizpah. In all those towns he was a judge for the Israelite people. 17 But he always returned to his home at Ramah. He was a judge for the Israelite people there too. He built an altar in Ramah to worship the Lord there.