The Secret of Protection, Preservation and Provision from God: DEVOTION

Friday, April 09, 2010 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the LORD helped us." So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israelite territory again. Throughout Samuel's lifetime, the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines.  (1 Sam. 7:12-13)

God blessed Samuel and Israel in a special way during a difficult time: "Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israelite territory again." How did Samuel arrive to a place in his life and ministry where an enemy like the Philistines were kept at bay? What was the secret?

The foreground of the secret to this victory was this: "Thus far has the LORD helped us." 

The background to this victory, once understood, is actually no secret at all. It was all about DEVOTION to God.

The background to this victory began with Samuel's mother Hannah (1 Samuel 1). Hannah was a humble woman who was unable to bear children. She was chided by Peninnah, her husband's other wife, for having no children. Even Eli, who was a judge and spiritual leader at that time, misunderstood Hannah's situation.

In her devotion, Hannah prayed and told God, "O LORD Almighty, if you will only look upon your servant's misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life." (1 Sam. 1:11). Eli saw her praying fervently and accused her of being drunk on wine. In reality, her devotion led her to a place of intense prayer.

God answered Hannah's prayers, and Samuel was born. (Samuel means, "God hears"). Her prayer of thanksgiving (1 Sam. 2:1-10) revealed her deep devotion to God, "There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God." (v. 2)

Samuel showed his DEVOTION and sensitivity to God as he ministered unto the Lord as a boy, "Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel"  (1 Sam. 3:3-4). At first Samuel thought that Eli called him, but he soon answered the call of God. Again, his devotion to God led the way.

Due to a lack of devotion on the part of Eli and especially of his wicked sons, Hophni and Phinehas, the Philistines captured the Ark of God.

The Philistines were characterized by their utter LACK OF DEVOTION to God. They had the audacity to put the Ark of God in the temple of their god Dagon, "After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon's temple and set it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD!" (1 Sam. 5:1-3)

Because they didn't heed the principle of DEVOTION to God, they propped Dagon back up. The next day, their idol was on the floor again, with its head and hands broken off! Eventually, even the Philistines got the message that Ark of God can only abide in the presence of people who are devoted to God. They sought to return the Ark of God, even while they continued suffer death for trifling with God's presence.

"So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the LORD. They took it to Abinadab's house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the LORD." (1 Sam. 7:1) The ark was taken to Kiriath Jearim and placed in the house of Abinadab. A DEVOTED person named Eleazar was given responsibility to guard the ark of the Lord for the next 20 years.

There came a time when Israel begin to miss the presence of God. They cried out to the Lord. "It was a long time, twenty years in all, that the ark remained at Kiriath Jearim, and all the people of Israel mourned and sought after the LORD." (1 Sam. 7:2)

Israel began to show a willingness to renew their DEVOTION to God. When Samuel heard this, he said, "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." (1 Sam. 7:3)

The people responded to God in their DEVOTION:
So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only. Then Samuel said, "Assemble all Israel at Mizpah and I will intercede with the LORD for you." 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 of Israel at Mizpah.  (1 Sam. 7:4-6)

This brings us back to the reason why Samuel set up a memorial stone and named it "Ebenezer" meaning, "Stone of Help." DEVOTION always leads us to the right places in God. Devotion is a "Welcome" sign from your heart to God.

Nothing will protect you, preserve you, and provide for you like the presence of Almighty God through the grace of His Son Jesus Christ!