We finally get to see Samuel come into his own in this chapter. It looks so simple on paper: Samuel spoke to the whole of Israel. They repented, and God listened. Don’t you wish it were that simple? On the page, it looks as if the Israelites just up and one day said we’re sorry, and all was well, but that’s not the case at all, and to truly resonate with where the Israelites were mentally and physically, we have to read between the lines a little. The first paragraph tells us that at least 20 years go by after the Ark gets returned to the Israelites and sent to Kiriath-jearim. During that time, the Israelites felt abandoned by God (v. 2). That tells us that times were pretty rotten, and verse 3 verifies that even though they had recovered the Ark, the Israelites were still being ruled and oppressed by the Philistines. In other words, every day was kind of a bad day for the Israelites until Samuel spoke up. But also, we have to visualize this move as well. Samuel didn’t just climb on a stage one day and announce that all Israelites had to repent immediately and tear down their idols. This most likely happened in stages and by declaration and word of mouth and all kinds of time and patience. The ceremony at Mizpah probably took weeks to arrange, and the aftermath from it most likely didn’t happen overnight. Still, even though we can’t completely relate to what must have happened during the many years the Israelites were in turmoil, we can know the foundation of how things – once again – started turning around for them. They just needed reminding about how they got there in the first place, and God had been training Samuel as their reminder for many years. The time had come to put his wisdom into play.
Writing prompt: training
Think about something you do now that you weren’t able to do a few years ago. Like, I have been dabbling in baking sourdough bread. A few weeks ago, my loaves were flat and gross, and I didn’t really understand what bread-making was all about, but with lots of studying, patience and hands-on experience, I am happy to say … nailed it! I finally made an edible loaf! That’s kind of where Samuel is in this chapter. He’s spent years learning and studying and obeying, and now he gets to put all that wisdom into play – successfully. Write about something you had to learn that took time and patience and turned out to be a successful and rewarding experience. Don’t have one? Write about something you’d like to accomplish but haven’t because of the time it would take to master.