Time went by until 20 years had passed since the ark had been taken to Kiriath-jearim. Then the whole house of Israel began to seek the Lord.
Samuel told them, "If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart,a get rid of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths that are among you,b dedicate yourselves toc the Lord, and worship only Him. Then He will rescue you from the hand of the Philistines."
So the Israelites removed the Baals and the Ashtorethsd and only worshiped the Lord.
Samuel said, "Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord on your behalf."e6
When they gathered at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out in the Lord's presence. They fasted that day, and there they confessed, "We have sinned against the Lord." And Samuel [began to lead] the Israelites at Mizpah as [their] judge.
When the Philistines heard that the Israelites had gathered at Mizpah, their rulers marched up toward Israel. When the Israelites heard [about it], they were afraid because of the Philistines.
The Israelites said to Samuel, "Don't stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, so that He will save us from the hand of the Philistines."
Then Samuel took a young lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord on behalf of Israel, and the Lord answered him.
Samuel was offering the burnt offering as the Philistines drew near to fight against Israel. The Lord thundered loudlyf against the Philistines that day and threw them into such confusion that they fled before Israel.g11
Then the men of Israel charged out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines striking them down all the way to a place below Beth-car.
Afterwards, Samuel took a stone and set it uprighth between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer,i explaining, "The Lord has helped us to this point."
So the Philistines were subdued andj did not invade Israel's territory again. The Lord's hand was against the Philistines all of Samuel's life.
The cities from Ekron to Gath, which they had taken from Israel, were restored; Israel even rescued their surrounding territories from Philistine control. There was also peace between Israel and the Amorites.
Samuel judged Israel throughout his life.
Every year he would go on a circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah and would judge Israel at all these locations.
Then he would return to Ramah because his home was there, he judged Israel there, and he had built an altar to the Lord there.