And the people of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the LORD our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. And Samuel cried out to the LORD for Israel, and the LORD answered him. As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the LORD thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel. And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the LORD has helped us.” So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The cities that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath, and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites.
Comment: The Israelites were under bondage to the Philistines after their previous defeat. Now, under Samuel, there was a religious revival. Obviously (the distances were small between the two nations) the Philistines heard of this and foresaw an uprising. The Israelites were frightened, but pleaded with Samuel to ‘cry out’ to God. I assume that there is a fervency implied by those words and not just a request to pray! Samuel did cry out and offered a sacrifice.
God intervened, it sounds as if by a huge thunderstorm which disarranged the plans of the Philistines. On the other hand the Israelites saw it as an act of God and swooping down had a great victory, winning back all their own area and throwing off their overlords. Peace reigned after that for some years.
Samuel marked the victory by erecting a large stone marker at a place which he called Ebenezer in thankfulness to God.
Prayer: Make me a thankful and prayerful person, who is not afraid to express my gratitude to my fellows and to You, O God.