And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the LORD only.
Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the LORD for you.” So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the LORD and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the LORD.” And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah. Now when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the people of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines.
Comment: Sometimes I wish the writers of the Bible had put in dates when things happened. We do have some time markers – Eli and his sons died when the Philistines had captured the Ark of God; the ark was with the Philistines for seven months before it was sent back to Israel on the cart drawn by two cows; we are not told how old Samuel was at this time but as Eli was very old when he died, it is safe to assume that Samuel was an adult. He, having trained under Eli, became the next judge. Samuel called upon the people to…..
- Forsake the ways of false worship into which they had drifted. Eli and his sons had not been godly leaders.
- He called them to heart-felt and pure worship of God.
- He set up his headquarters at Mizpah, and called the people to come there.
- The people repented and confessed. They returned to God
- Pouring out water presumably was at that time an act of deep worship. Maybe because water was pure and very precious; a guess!
The Philistines hearing of a reunited tribe of Israelites, commenced preparations for another war to subdue the people whom they saw as likely to rebel against their overlords.
Prayer: I’d rather not stray, but if I do help me to repent quickly, O God.