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The literary structure of 1 Samuel 4-7

The literary structure of 1 Samuel 7:3-17

We are in 1 Samuel again today, chapter 7 if you would like to turn. We have come now to the concluding story of a set of five stories that began in chapter 4 and most of which have to do with the ark of the covenant.

  • In the first, the ark was taken to the battle of Aphek-Ebenezer, thinking that God would help them if the ark was there, even if they didn’t deal with their sin and unfaithfulness.
  • In the second, the ark was captured and the high priestly family of Eli was judged.
  • In the third, Yahweh took matters into his own hands and defeated the Philistines and their gods by means of the ark until they begged for it to leave.
  • In the fourth, the ark came back to Israel, but the Levites of Beth-shemesh were judged for their disrespect to the ark and so the ark ended up in Kiriath-jearim.

At the very end of this fourth story it says, “a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord” – 7:2. After judgment on their high priests and Levites, after Philistine oppression year after year, after seeing God’s power displayed through the ark, but not for them – they hit rock bottom. Things were so bad, for so long that they knew something had to change. And so they reconsidered their ways and began to long for the Lord God.

Well, Samuel saw this godly sorrow, which leads us to –

The story of God’s salvation

3And 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.” 4So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.

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