Lighthouse Leader Study Guide
Date: February 5, 2017
Series: The kings & the King: A Study of 1 Samuel
1 Samuel 7:3-17
This Week’s Printable Resources:
Overview of this Lesson
In 1 Samuel 7 we get to witness something that many of us pray for, but will likely never see—a national revival. Imagine seeing the entire nation turn to God! The revival in 1 Samuel 7 is an amazing testimony of God’s movement among His people.
If you study revival in history, you will quickly recognize that national revival is a rare manifestation of God’s work among us. In reviewing US history, we see four recognized “Great Awakenings” since 1776, and of these, most scholars agree that the Second Great Awakening was the only true “great” awakening or revival that impacted the country as a whole.
National revival is fantastic, but much more practical and applicable for us is the reality of personal revival. A nation turns to God when God’s people turn to Him. Revival is an “if… then…” statement as we see in this week’s memory verse (below). “If you are returning to the Lord… then put away your idols and serve the Lord only.”
The requirements of revival are no different today than they were during the times of Samuel. Yes, our idols have changed, but we do still worship false gods, things we place in priority over the Lord God.
In this lesson, you are challenged to examine your own life for the existence of idols and to repent and put away your idols and serve God and God alone.
Memory Verse for This Week
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.” – 1 Samuel 7:3
This Week’s Core Practice
Worship (Psalm 95:1-7): I worship God for who He is and what He has done for me.
|This Week’s Take Home Truth
“For revival to be experienced, all rivals must be extinguished. Our worship of God (hearts) and service to God (hands) must be single-mindedly, exclusively His.”
- What do you think it would take to cause people from all over the country to suddenly turn to God?
- How do you think people would respond if there was a national revival, and in the midst of the revival, America was suddenly attacked by China & Russia?
- Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?
Make sure you ask this question this week. It gives people the opportunity to discuss questions or issues that come up beyond the written questions. People’s responses can often lead into one of the questions in the “Digging Deeper” section. Also, some weeks this question will result in a lot of discussion, other weeks, not so much.
Read the Text (1 Samuel 7:3-17)
In 1 Samuel 7 se see the evidence of a national revival under Samuel. With this revival, Israel emerges from a long, dark period in their history in which they casually acknowledged the Lord and worshipped false gods along with the Lord. As a result of their sin, Israel experienced a devastating defeat in 1 Samuel 4. As we turn to 1 Samuel 7, 20 years have passed, during which time Israel has been under the military rule of their hated enemy the Philistines. National revival begins when individuals turn from their sin and worship the Lord God exclusively. Read 1 Samuel 7:3-17.
1 Samuel 7:3-17 (ESV)
Samuel Judges Israel
3 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.” 4 So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.
5 Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” 6 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. 7 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. 8 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.” 9 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. 10 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. 11 And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car.
12 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.” 13 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. 14 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.
15 Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16 And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. And he judged Israel in all these places. 17 Then he would return to Ramah, for his home was there, and there also he judged Israel. And he built there an altar to the Lord.
In this section, feel free to develop your own questions to help guide your group’s discussion. Below are some suggestions. Remember, if you are hearing from everyone in your group, chances are you won’t have to time to discuss every question. You may start with one that catches your attention so you don’t run out of time. For example, it’s not odd to start with Question #6, then go to Question #5 and if you have time come back to Question #4.
- What contrast do you see between 1 Samuel 4 and 1 Samuel 7?
Dale Ralph Davis notes the contrast between 1 Samuel 4 and 1 Samuel 7:
Chapters 4 and 7 are meant to stand beside one another; there is a formal parallel between them, a parallel that sets off the contrasts. Note the following:
|Chapter 4||Chapter 7|
|Israel “struck down”by Philistines, v. 2, 3, 10Manipulation, “Let it save” v. 3
Philistines hear, v. 6Result: “Ichabod” v. 21
|Philistines “struck down”by Israel, v. 10Repentance, “Let Him deliver/save” v. 3, 8Philistines hear, v. 7Result: “Ebenezer” v. 12|
Here in chapter 7 Israel is not dabbling in religious magic (ch. 4) but walking by sheer faith. They dangle by the mere mercy of Yahweh. They see no recourse, but, taking their cue from Samuel (v. 3c), they share his position (“Let him [Yahweh] save us from the hand of the Philistines,” v. 8). Their only weapon is prayer, their only hope that Samuel might place his hand upon the throne of the Lord for them. And even Samuel is reduced to a cry of distress on their behalf (v. 9). Desperation, however, is never in trouble when it rests on omnipotence. Yahweh blasted the Philistines with his thunder and threw them into confusion (v. 10b). It’s only what he had promised to do (Lev. 26:8; Deut. 28:7). Hannah had known it years ago (1 Sam. 2:10a).
- How would you describe a revival?
One of the best summary descriptions of “Revival” is found at the beginning of an article titled “Seasons of the Spirit,” in Christian History Magazine:
“The Scriptures show us that God’s people go through periods of spiritual renewal, and periods of spiritual decline. We might think of these times like waves and troughs, or like mountains and valleys.
“During a renewal, or awakening, there will be not only a great reviving of Christians, but also a large impact on the problems of society. The period of God’s blessing may last for many years, as did the Second Great Awakening in America, or be rather brief, as was the Third Awakening of the late 1850s.
“When the winds of a renewal have passed, the Church may enter a period of lethargy, possibly for many years. Such cycles have already been repeated many times during the 2,000 years of Christian history. It is not that the Spirit of God cannot sustain the higher life for Christians; rather, the Spirit allows times of decline to cause His people to pray for growth and for power.”
- What is the necessary first step in order for revival to happen?
As described above, is something that seems to come and go in cycles both throughout the Bible (Old and New Testament) and throughout church history.
Inevitably, revival begins when the people of God turn from their carnal, worldly ways, repent of the clear and obvious sins, and devote themselves to the Lord.
In the case of the revival seen in 1 Samuel 7, Samuel begins by telling the people, “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” (v. 3).
The Bible then tells us, “So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the LORD only” (v. 4).
This is how revival begins: when we turn from our idols and worship the Lord God with full devotion and faithfulness. There is no alternative.
- How are the idols found in the Old Testament different from the idols we serve today?
In many ways, they are not different. The people of the OT may have worshipped statues and carvings, but the end result was bondage to false gods and false beliefs. In the case of the Canaanite gods found at the time of 1 Samuel (Ashtaroth), worship was co-mingled with ritualistic sexual practices, which the people (including Israel, unfortunately), believed brought fertility and prosperity. Imagine a religion where the most vile sexual practices imaginable to man were actually sanctioned and promoted as a form of worship. Forget giving a tenth of your income. Instead, the worships of Ashtaroth were expected to go to a “temple” to Ashtaroth and engage in sex with temple prostitutes who were there to serve the god.
Today, we struggle with the same bondage to sexual sin and sins all fall under the broad banner of idolatry. What are these sins? The Apostle Paul lists them for us in Colossians 3:5-8:
Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them. But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.
Whether you lived at the time of Samuel or you live in Iowa today, idolatry is still idolatry, and it was just as difficult for the Israelites to turn away from their idolatry then as it is for us to turn from our idolatry today.
- What is the difference between emotionally repenting and turning to God and spiritually repenting and turning to God?
There’s a familiar saying that makes a point: “Do you know how many innocent men there are in prison today? All of them. Every man in prison believes he is innocent of the crimes for which he is serving time.”
True, that may be a little bit of hyperbole, but the point is made. It is very difficult for us to truly acknowledge and repent of our sin. We go through the actions of repentance, which may include real tears and real anguish, but, in truth, we are simply doing what is expected of us at the moment. Inside the heart of every man, woman, and child beats the heart of innocence. Situations may force us to acknowledge wrong doing from time-to-time, but in reality, it is a very difficult thing to experience true repentance. Most of us are simply sorry we got caught!
True repentance is described in Psalm 51. In this Psalm, David is responding to the Lord after being confronted by Nathan the Prophet for David’s sin with Bathsheba. Listen to some of the words he speaks:
For I acknowledge my transgressions,
And my sin is always before me.
Against You, You only, have I sinned,
And done this evil in Your sight—
That You may be found just when You speak,
And blameless when You judge.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
And in sin my mother conceived me.
Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
- How can we see revival in our own life, family, community, and nation?
“You desire truth in the inward parts.” That is where true repentance begins. Not just when we publicly acknowledge our sin (which is important), but when we truly accept the truth and reality of our sin in our inward parts, deep down where no one but the Lord can see.
Here’s the key: true repentance is one of the fruits of genuine faith (salvation). Apart from the grace of God working in our life to bring genuine salvation, true repentance is impossible. We must trust God alone for victory and peace in our life, not whatever false idols the Devil may place in our path.
[NOTE: We often misunderstand repentance to be a required part of salvation, but this is a false representation of the word. As Arnold Fruchtenbaum argues, this is only because the word repentance is often used as a synonym for the word believe.
This week’s Take Home Truth sums it up perfectly: “For revival to be experienced, all rivals must be extinguished. Our worship of God (hearts) and service to God (hands) must be single-mindedly, exclusively His.”
These questions are given to prompt both reflection and learning on a personal level, and should likely be completed individually and apart from your regular group time.
- Looking back at this week’s teaching and study, what’s the most important thing to remember?
- What idols exist in your life that need to be set aside so that you and your family, your church, your nation might experience revival?
Application from Todd’s Sermon
Here are some notes from Todd’s sermon that you can work into your discussion at an appropriate time. These outline in a clear and simple way what we learn about revival from 1 Samuel 7. NOTE: These are not included in the handout included in the worship folder. They are for your reference only.
Requirements for Revival 7:3-4 action, internal confession (prayer, confession, etc)… external action (prayer, intercession, destruction)
Source of Revival 7:5-9 The Lord … he sends it, we don’t manufacture it. Are there things we do to prepare? Yes! But we don’t produce God’s moving…we only prepare for it.
Evidence of Revival 7:10-17
- victory (seems to be the short term evidence)
- peace (sees to be the long term evidence)
 Dale Ralph Davis, Focus on the Bible Commentary – 1 Samuel: Looking on the Heart, (Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 2000), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 75.
 Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations, and Quotes, electronic ed. (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2000), 672–673.
 Repentance is used as a synonym for believing, and means nothing different than believing in Yeshua the Messiah. One changes his mind and believes in Yeshua the Messiah (Lk. 24:47; Acts 17:30; Rom. 2:4; 2 Tim. 2:25; 2 Pet. 3:9). Only in that sense is repentance truly a condition for salvation. But if, as some groups use it, repentance means, “to feel sorry for one’s sins,” then it indeed becomes a false addition to salvation. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Messianic Bible Study Collection, vol. 111 (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1983), 7-8.