“And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the Lord.”
– I Samuel 7:5
An old Negro spiritual reads: “If we ever needed the Lord before. We sure do need Him now. We need Him every day and every hour.” Truer words have not been sung before as we here in The Bahamas have suffered one of the most dangerous hurricanes ever. The islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama have a story to tell to the nations. And blame cannot be placed at anyone’s feet, save that God is working His purpose out, for behind a frowning providence, He hides a smiling face.
Someone asked the question “Where is God?” in view of the tragedies and sudden destruction. God is in the wind, the rain, the sun, the moon, the stars, the lightning, the thunder, in good and bad, in war and in peace. Try as hard as you may, there is no judge who will take your case and no higher court to appeal to. In spite of it all, God has been good. Being aware of our geographic makeup – islands strewn about in the middle of the ocean – we could easily have been washed away by the powerful force of the waters thereof.
Globally, many are trying to put a spin on time and coming up with witty slogans as to what time is all about. However, with all the ills of strife – war, senseless killings and the shedding of innocent blood, and no coming together by virtue of meaningful reasoning – time has become a bouncing ball. But no matter what, time is “like an ever-rolling stream that bears all its sons away; they fly forgotten as a dream that dies at the opening day; monarch and peasant all bow to father time”.
In our text today, good news tells us that Samuel called for all the Israelites to meet at Mizpeh, telling them, “I will pray to the Lord for you there.” So, they all gathered at Mizpeh. They drew some water and poured it out as an offering to the Lord and fasted that whole day. They said, “We have sinned against the Lord.” It was at Mizpeh that Samuel settled disputes among the Israelites.
When the Philistines heard that the Israelites had gathered at Mizpeh, the five Philistine kings started out with their men to attack them. The Israelites heard about it and were afraid and said to Samuel, “Keep praying to the Lord our God to save us from the Philistines.”
Samuel killed a young lamb and burned it whole as a sacrifice to the Lord. Then he prayed to the Lord to help Israel, and the Lord answered his prayer. While Samuel was offering the sacrifice, the Philistines moved forward to attack, but just then the Lord thundered from heaven against them. They became completely confused and fled in panic. The Israelites marched out from Mizpeh and pursued the Philistines almost as far as Beth-car, killing them along the way.
Then Samuel took a stone, set it up between Mizpeh and Shen and said, “The Lord has helped us all the way,” and he named it Ebenezer, meaning “hitherto hath the Lord helped us”.
Time! Bottom line is that it is prayer time.
Prayer for grace: Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, now in the name of this mortal life in which your son Jesus Christ came to us in great humility so that on the last day when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge the living and dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen.
Prayer of the young: Most loving Lord, give to me a steadfast heart which no unworthy affection may drag downwards; give me an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; give me an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may temp aside. Bestow upon me also Lord God understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you. Grant this heavenly father for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for the nation: Almighty God from whom all thoughts of truth and peace proceed, we pray in the hearts of all men the true love of peace and guidance with your pure and peaceable wisdom for those who take counsel for our nation, that in tranquility your kingdom may go forward till the earth is filled with the knowledge of your love through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
O God, the strength of all them that put their trust in thee, mercifully accept our prayers; and because through the weakness of our mortal nature we do no good thing without thee, grant us the help of thy grace, that in keeping of the Commandments we may please thee, both in will and deed, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us continue to pull on the prayer bells of heaven for all our needs, wants, aspirations and salvation.