Drop the Crutch

1 Samuel 7:1-2 - So the men of Kiriath-jearim came to get the Ark of the Lord. They took it to the hillside home of Abinadab and ordained Eleazar, his son, to be in charge of it. 2 The Ark remained in Kiriath-jearim for a long time—twenty years in all. During that time all Israel mourned because it seemed the Lord had abandoned them.

  • God told Joshua, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."
  • The Israelites continue to live in a state of denial blaming God.
  • God hadn't abandoned them, they abandoned God!

What situations are you blaming God for?

1 Samuel 7:3-6 - Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you want to return to the Lord with all your hearts, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Turn your hearts to the Lord and obey him alone; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” 4 So the Israelites got rid of their images of Baal and Ashtoreth and worshiped only the Lord. 5 Then Samuel told them, “Gather all of Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” 6 So they gathered at Mizpah and, in a great ceremony, drew water from a well and poured it out before the Lord. They also went without food all day and confessed that they had sinned against the Lord. (It was at Mizpah that Samuel became Israel’s judge.)

  • The people mourned. God had their attention, but He didn't have their heart.
  • They were still holding on to their other gods.
    • Could the God of the desert still be God over the plains?
    • Implemented a "Just in case" policy
  • Paul's meeting with the Athenians [Acts 17:22-31]

Paul's message and Samuel's message are the same: DROP THE CRUTCH

  • Like the nation of Israel, God is bring us to a place of dependence on Him. It's an all or nothing proposition.
  • We want it both ways--God + an insurance policy
I put it now to some of you who would like to keep your sins, and yet go to heaven. You lament after the Lord. You would be a saint; but then you want to be a sinner, too. You would be a child of God; but then you would not like to turn out of the devil’s family. You would not like to be ridiculed by the world. No, you want the crown without the cross. You want the end without the way. You want heaven without holiness, and forgiveness without repentance; and this can never be. It is useless lamenting after the Lord, if it does not lead you to give up your idols.
— C.H. Spurgeon

Samuel's 3-Step Plan

  1. Drop the Crutch (Samuel called them idols)
  2. Turn your heart to the Lord
  3. Obey Him alone
  • At this point, the people of Israel do something we haven’t seen them do up to this point in our study on Samuel… they confessed their sin.
  • Samuel’s promise to the Israelites was that if they do this and commit wholeheartedly to the Lord, then they will no longer have to fight alone—God will go before them and fight on their behalf.

1 Samuel 7:7-9 - When the Philistine rulers heard that Israel had gathered at Mizpah, they mobilized their army and advanced. The Israelites were badly frightened when they learned that the Philistines were approaching. 8 “Don’t stop pleading with the Lord our God to save us from the Philistines!” they begged Samuel. 9 So Samuel took a young lamb and offered it to the Lord as a whole burnt offering. He pleaded with the Lord to help Israel, and the Lord answered him.

  • A monumental shift has taken place!
  • As the Philistines approach to attack, the Israelites don’t run for the ark, they pray!
    • A shift from superstitions to dependence.
  • Whenever God’s people get serious about their relationship with Him, the enemy will seek to attack.
1 Peter 5:8 - "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

1 Samuel 7:10-11 - Just as Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines arrived to attack Israel. But the Lord spoke with a mighty voice of thunder from heaven that day, and the Philistines were thrown into such confusion that the Israelites defeated them. 11 The men of Israel chased them from Mizpah to a place below Beth-car, slaughtering them all along the way.

  • The difference between you fighting in your own strength, and the Creator God fighting on your behalf.
  • One Word from God can do more to affect your situation than anything you can muster up in your own strength.
  • How you fight matters. Fight with prayer.

1 Samuel 7:12 - Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!”

  • Samuel assembled the nation at the same place where they had experienced so much devastation. 
  • Here in the place of tragedy, they now erect a stone of victory.
  • Three Angles
    1. We still have to fight.
    2. Take time to look back.
    3. Have the confidence to look forward.
  • We need to set up some stones, some markers, in our life.

Drop the crutch--Grab a stone.