Until Now The Lord Has Helped Us: Stories of God's Mercy
In Samuel 1 chapters 4-6 God was acting to bring the people of Israel to a point of desperation; and then they were ready to return to God in repentance and faith. This is where we pick up the story in 1 Samuel 7.
Readying for God's Mercy (v.2-6)
- Samuel was Israel's judge, and the function of a judge is more executive and not just judicial.
- He prepared the people for God's mercy, and called them to repentance.
- True genuine repentance is tangible and difficult and also results in obedient action. We see there that repentance requires a change in the heart direction, not merely an emotional response.
- Genuine repentance is tangible
- Salvation is by faith alone, and while there is no merit in repentance in and of itself, there is no saving help without such repentance.
Receiving God's Mercy (v.7-11)
- The People of Israel recognise their helpless state and turn to God for mercy and help. How far they've come when they tried to use the ark of the covenant to manipulate God!
- These verses show us their desperation, but it also encourages us! Desperation is never in trouble when it rests on the omnipotent God.
- Samuel, as Israel's judge, prays to God on Israel's behalf, and God answers his intercession. 1 Samuel gives us a a picture of Jesus Christ! For us today, when we come before God in the same helpless and desperate state, we also also rely on the prayer of another, whose prayers are effectual
- God answered and demonstrated his mercy by delivering his people
Remembering God's Mercy (v.12-17)
- In order to remember God's mercy, they set up a memorial and called it Ebenezer -- Rock of Help" and "Till now the LORD has helped us" (v.12)
- It was to remind them that God has helped us till this day and this time. It also served as a continual reminder of God's faithfulness.
- What do we learn from this? It is memory that keeps gratitude fresh and that gratitude keeps faith faithful. What about us? Have we forgotten?
- Deliverance will come in God's perfect timing
- All of us without exception are sinners in continual daily need of God's mercy and help
- God has helped us and shown mercy to us in the past and he will do so again for us in the present
- God has demonstrated his mercy clearly in the crucifixion and death of his Son in our place
Looking at what God in his mercy had done for us in Jesus Christ, how much more can Christians today on this side of the Cross say this very same thing, "Till now the LORD has helped us".
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