1 Samuel 7
3 And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only.
5 Then Samuel said, “Assemble all Israel at Mizpah and I will intercede with the Lord for you.” 6 When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel was leader[a] of Israel at Mizpah.
7 When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. And when the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. 8 They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9 Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it up as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him.
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. 11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Car.
The incidents in these verses occurred just before Israel started asking God to let them have an earthly king. That is contrasted with Samuel's role as a judge over Israel, and a close observation of that contrast gives us a very important glimpse into the kind of man Samuel was.
His role, in the light of the victorious achievements over the Philistines, was two-fold. First, his message to Israel about returning to the lord and getting rid of their false Gods, denotes an act of rescue. Their response of committing themselves to serve only the Lord, was accompanied with the promise that they would be delivered out of the hands of the Philistines.
In addition, the second role Samuel was playing here is to rescue Israel from themselves. Just as they were saved from destruction at the hands of the Philistines for following God's instruction. Likewise they were saved from their own apostasy in their repentance and confession of sin against God.
This is an important lesson for us to learn, especially in our lives when we have a tendency to call out to God to rescue us from the predicaments we bring to ourselves. God is always willing for us to return to him. He has been and will be our rescuer just as he was for Israel. But don't forget, God is also in the business of saving us from ourselves. The key, as Samuel was quick to point out, is in confession and a continual commitment to God and his ways. Just like Israel, we too, need a reminder from time to time to return to our covenant with God, and return to loving him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.