1 Samuel 7:3-17 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Samuel as Judge
3 Then 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 Astartes from among you. Direct your heart to the Lord, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So Israel put away the Baals and the Astartes, 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. They fasted that day, and said, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah.
7 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 The people of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, and pray that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9 So Samuel took a sucking lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord; 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 voice that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion; and they were routed before Israel. 11 And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and struck them down as far as beyond Beth-car.
12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah,[a] and named it Ebenezer;[b] for he said, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” 13 So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel; the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 14 The towns that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered 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 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 come back to Ramah, for his home was there; he administered justice there to Israel, and built there an altar to the Lord.
1 Samuel 7:3-17 The Message (MSG)
3 Then Samuel addressed the house of Israel: “If you are truly serious about coming back to God, clean house. Get rid of the foreign gods and fertility goddesses, ground yourselves firmly in God, worship him and him alone, and he’ll save you from Philistine oppression.”
4 They did it. They got rid of the gods and goddesses, the images of Baal and Ashtoreth, and gave their exclusive attention and service to God.
5 Next Samuel said, “Get everybody together at Mizpah and I’ll pray for you.”
6 So everyone assembled at Mizpah. They drew water from the wells and poured it out before God in a ritual of cleansing. They fasted all day and prayed, “We have sinned against God.”
So Samuel prepared the Israelites for holy war there at Mizpah.
The Place Where God Helped Us
7 When the Philistines heard that Israel was meeting at Mizpah, the Philistine leaders went on the offensive. Israel got the report and became frightened—Philistines on the move again!
8 They pleaded with Samuel, “Pray with all your might! And don’t let up! Pray to God, our God, that he’ll save us from the boot of the Philistines.”
9 Samuel took a young lamb not yet weaned and offered it whole as a Whole-Burnt-Offering to God. He prayed fervently to God, interceding for Israel. And God answered.
10-12 While Samuel was offering the sacrifice, the Philistines came within range to fight Israel. Just then God thundered, a huge thunderclap exploding among the Philistines. They panicked—mass confusion!—and ran helter-skelter from Israel. Israel poured out of Mizpah and gave chase, killing Philistines right and left, to a point just beyond Beth Car. Samuel took a single rock and set it upright between Mizpah and Shen. He named it “Ebenezer” (Rock of Help), saying, “This marks the place where God helped us.”
13-14 The Philistines learned their lesson and stayed home—no more border crossings. God was hard on the Philistines all through Samuel’s lifetime. All the cities from Ekron to Gath that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored. Israel also freed the surrounding countryside from Philistine control. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.
15-17 Samuel gave solid leadership to Israel his entire life. Every year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah. He gave leadership to Israel in each of these places. But always he would return to Ramah, where he lived, and preside from there. That is where he built an altar to God.