The Philistines suffered much for the Ark of the Covenant, and when they returned the ark the misguided Israelites suffered also. Now, after a lengthy period of time, with Samuel maturing in years, the Israelites seek guidance and relief from the oppression of the Philistines. Samuel responds that if they prepare their heart for the Lord he will seek the Lord’s guidance and help the Israelites in this difficult time. The Philistines heard of the Israelite gathering and prepares to meet it. As they sought to interrupt the gathering the Lord intervenes and routes the Philistines with the Israelites chasing them (7:11). With Samuel as the leader of the nation the Philistines posed a threat no longer.
Application: It is interesting to note, and worthy of our interest, that Israel’s victory in battle was directly related to the Lord’s leadership. Samuel calls upon the people to prepare their hearts before the Lord (national repentance) and with this action the Lord brings disaster upon the Philistines. The Lord did not destroy them, but scattered them to such a degree that they were not a threat to Israel, as they once were, while Samuel was their judge. The lesson in this, I think, is obvious. When one prepares his heart to the Lord, the prepared one can’t be defeated because the Lord is on his side. We don’t want to misconstrue this; this does not mean that physical life will be sustained. It does mean, however, that one’s life is not in this physical realm, and with the eyes on Jesus victory is assured.