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THE LAST OF THE JUDGES
I Samuel vii: 2 to 17.
HEN the ark of God was taken and the Tabernacle fell into
ruins, Samuel was still a boy. He went to his father's
house at Ramah, which was in the mountains, about four
miles north of Jerusalem. Ramah was the home of Samuel
after this as long as he lived.
For some years, while Samuel was growing up, there was
no judge in Israel, and no head of the tribes. The
Philistines ruled the people and took from them a large
part of their harvests, their sheep, and their oxen.
Often in their need they thought of the ark of the
Lord, standing alone in the house at Kirjath-jearim.
And the eyes of all the people turned to the young
Samuel growing up at Ramah. For Samuel walked with God,
and God spoke to Samuel, as God had spoken to Abraham,
and to Moses, and to Joshua.
As soon as Samuel had grown up to be a man, he began to
go among the tribes and to give to the people
everywhere God's word to them. And this was what Samuel
"If you will really come back with all your heart to
the Lord God of Israel, put away the false gods, the
images of Baal, and of Asherah, and seek the Lord alone
and serve him, then God will set you free from the
After Samuel's words the people began to throw down the
idols and to pray to the God of Israel. And Samuel
called the people from all the land to gather in one
place, as many as could come. They met at a place
called Mizpah, in the mountains of Benjamin, not far
There Samuel prayed for the people, and asked God to
forgive their sin in turning away from God to idols.
They confessed their wrong-doings, and made a solemn
promise to serve the Lord, and to serve the Lord only.
 The Philistines upon the plain beside the Great Sea
heard of this meeting. They feared that the Israelites
were about to break away from their rule, and they came
up with an army to drive the Israelites away to their
homes and keep them under the rule of the Philistines.
When the Israelites saw the Philistines coming against
them they were greatly alarmed. The Philistines were
men of war, with swords, and shields, and spears, and
they were trained in fighting; while the men of Israel
had not seen war. It was more than twenty years since
their fathers had fought the Philistines and twice had
been beaten by them. They had neither weapons nor
training, and they felt themselves helpless against
their enemies. They looked to Samuel, just as children
would look to a father, and they said to him, "Do not
cease praying and crying to the Lord for us, that he
may save us from the Philistines."
Then Samuel took a lamb and offered it up to the Lord
as a burnt-offering for the people, and he prayed
mightily that God would help Israel; and God heard his
Just as the Philistines were rushing upon the helpless
men of Israel there came a great storm with rolling
thunder and flashing lightning. Such storms do not come
often in that land, and this was so heavy that it
frightened the Philistines. They threw down their
spears and swords in sudden terror and ran away.
The men of Israel picked up these arms and gathered
such other weapons as they could find, and they
followed the Philistines
 and killed many of them, and won a great victory over
them. By this one stroke the power of the Philistines
was broken, and they lost their rule over Israel. And
it so happened that the place where Samuel won this
great victory was the very place where the Israelites
had been beaten twice before, the place where the ark
of God had been taken, as we read in the last Story. On
the battlefield Samuel set up a great stone to mark the
place, and he gave it the name Eben-ezer, which means
"The Stone of Help."
"For," said Samuel, "this was the place where the Lord
After this defeat the Philistines came no more into the
land of Israel in the years while Samuel ruled as judge
over the tribes. He was the fifteenth of the judges,
and the last. He went throughout the land, and people
everywhere brought to him their questions and their
differences for Samuel to decide, for they knew that he
was a good man and would do justly between man and man.
From each journey he came back to Ramah. There was his
home, and there he built an altar to the Lord.
TOMB NEAR JERUSLAEM CALLED "THE TOMB OF THE JUDGES"
Samuel lived many years, and ruled the people wisely,
so that all trusted in him. He taught the Israelites to
worship the Lord God, and to put away the idols, which
so many of them had served. While Samuel ruled there
was peace in all the tribes, and no enemies came from
the lands around to do harm to the Israelites. But the
Philistines were still very strong, and held rule over
some parts of Israel near their own land, although
there was no war. Samuel was not a man of war, like
Gideon or Jephthah, but a man of peace, and his rule
was quiet, though it was strong.