I Samuel 7:3 And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.

4 Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only.

5 And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD.

6 And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the LORD, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the LORD. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.

7 And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines.

8 And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the LORD our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.

9 And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him.

10 And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.

11 And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar.

12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.

13 So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.

14 And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron even unto Gath; and the coasts thereof did Israel deliver out of the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.

Proverbs 28:13 He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.


MEMORY VERSE: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. —I John 1:9


CENTRAL THOUGHT: A true confession of sin will not only bring the mercy, pardon, and forgiveness of God, but will also put us in the place to receive the help and deliverance of God.




I Samuel 7:4 “Baalim and Ashtaroth”: Baalim, the male god and Ashtaroth (Ishtar of the Accadians and Astarte of the Phoenicians and Greeks) his female counterpart. In Canaan, Baalim (Baal means lord; plural is Baalim) was the sun god; he was also worshipped as the storm god and the fertility god. Baal worship was very sensual and involved prostitution.

Ashtaroth became the moon goddess. “Solomon introduced the worship of this idol (I Kings 11:33). Jezebel’s 400 priests were probably employed in its service (1 Kings 18:19). It was called the ‘queen of heaven’ (Jeremiah 44:25)” (Easton’s Bible Dictionary).

I Samuel 7:6 “Drew water, and poured it out”: a symbol of sorrow and of pouring out their hearts to the Lord in penitence.

I Samuel 7:10 “Discomfited”: the confusion of sudden panic.




Our lesson today is an Old Testament example of the type of repentance which touched the heart of God. After twenty years of the ark of the Lord being displaced, the people of Israel began to seek the Lord, lamenting the absence of the presence of the Lord. When Samuel told them they must turn away from their idols, they followed His instruction, repented, and “served the Lord only.” Samuel announced a national day of fasting and prayer. He prayed for them, and they poured out their hearts also before the Lord, symbolizing the act by pouring out water and acknowledging their sins with a public confession.

There were other confessions of sin in the stories of the Bible; however, some of them did not achieve the kind of results the Israelites received in the account just mentioned. Pharaoh, when refusing to let the children of Israel go out of Egypt to serve the Lord, would make a pretense of confession just to get the plagues stopped. Time and again he did this with no intention of carrying through with his promise to let the Israelites go (Exodus 9:27). Achan confessed his sin only after the lots were drawn and pointed to him. God had already given orders that the man who had taken the accursed thing would be burnt with fire (Joshua 7:15). Saul also confessed, “I have sinned,” and asked Samuel to pray for him, but his heart was not sincere (I Samuel 15:24).

David confessed his transgression after covering it with deceit and lies and keeping silent about it for a time. When God confronted him through Nathan, the prophet, David threw off his cover and said, “I have sinned.” God didn’t take his life, although that was the just punishment for his sin of having Uriah killed; however, God told him He was bringing a sword upon David’s family because of the evil deed. What might have happened if David had not confessed? We can only imagine.

The verse from Proverbs states the importance of not just confessing, but also forsaking sin when seeking the mercy of God. Our memory verse comforts with the promise that God will forgive and cleanse from all unrighteousness when a true confession of sin is made.

—Angela Gellenbeck



  1. What was the “fruit meet for repentance” demonstrated by the Israelites when they were seeking for God?
  2. By what symbol did they show their confession and repentance being poured out before God?
  3. What did God do when the Philistines attacked them?
  4. What monument did they erect to remind them of God’s deliverance, and what did it say?
  5. Give the promises about confession of sin from Proverbs and I John.




I had never before connected the “Ebenezer” stone with the repentance and confession of Israel until this study. This monument was much more than a remembrance of “a time the Lord helped us.” There was much preparatory work done before this great deliverance from the Philistines. They had a period of longing and lamenting after God. Then the ultimatum by the prophet. At that point they could have cooled off their search for God and just kept on with things as they were. I’m glad we have this account to teach us that if we “follow on to know the Lord” He will come to us with forgiveness and deliverance.

Again, true repentance is about forsaking the worship and service to other gods and returning to “the Lord only.” Once they had done that, they could truly pour out their prayer and confession and their plea for God to deliver them from the oppression of the Philistines.

Many people today are oppressed. Anxiety, depression and mental disease, alcohol and drug addiction, anger, bitterness, and abuse wreak havoc in individuals and families. Do you need deliverance? Have you laid down your idols? Are you continuing to seek the Lord, even if you do not see immediate results? How long will you keep up your search? Will you be willing to make a complete confession of your sins and pour out your heart like water? The promise has been given—will you believe it? Open your hidden sins up to God, and He will have mercy upon you and deliver you from your oppressors. Then you can erect YOUR “Ebenezer” stone.

—Angela Gellenbeck




The prophet Isaiah, prophesying of the coming of John the Baptist, said, “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3). Matthew, Mark, and Luke all quote this passage in reference to John the Baptist’s preaching of the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Also, Isaiah 62:10 says, “Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people.”

As our lesson today indicates, there is something required of us to prepare our hearts unto the Lord. Hosea 10:12 says, “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.”

Jesus spoke of four different kinds of ground upon which the gospel seed falls: wayside ground, stony ground, thorny ground, and good ground. It is ultimately up to each one of us as individuals to prepare the ground of our hearts to receive the Word of God. We must, with determination and resolve, break up the fallow ground of our hearts. Those stones and thorns that hinder and obstruct the fruitfulness of the gospel seed must be cast up and gathered out.

“Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded” (James 4:8). “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him” (II Chronicles 16:9a).

—Harlan Sorrell