The Ark of God remained in Kirjath Jearim for twenty years. The house of Israel lamented after the Lord. Samuel told them that they must put away all their idols and prepare their hearts for the Lord, to serve Him only. They obeyed, and God promised to deliver them from the Philistines. Samuel gathered them to Mizpah, offered a drink offering to the Lord, and fasted and prayed that day. As they were gathered together, the Philistines arrayed themselves for battle. The Lord thundered against the Philistines that day and they were overcome. Samuel set up a rock between Mizpah and Shen, and called it Ebenezer, which means “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” Thus the Philistines were subdued, and did not attack Israel in this territory. The cities they had taken were restored back to Israel, and there was peace between Israel and the Amorites. Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life, moving in a circuit from Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, returning home to Ramah, his home. He built an altar to the Lord there.
When faced with a battle, the people of God were instructed to lay aside their gods and idols. This advice is still pertinent for us today. We can allow things, hobbies, even people to stand in the way of our obedience to God. Just as Israel lamented the loss of the presence of God for twenty years, many people, churches, or even denominations lose their connection with God and need to re-evaluate their practices and relationship and restore the proper worship of God. When we put God first, and lay aside our Idolatrous distractions, God can do great things among us!