What does 1 Samuel 7:9 mean?
ESV: So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. And Samuel cried out to the LORD for Israel, and the LORD answered him.
NIV: Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. He cried out to the LORD on Israel's behalf, and the LORD answered him.
NASB: Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord; and Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him.
CSB: 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.
NLT: So Samuel took a young lamb and offered it to the Lord as a whole burnt offering. He pleaded with the Lord to help Israel, and the Lord answered him.
KJV: 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.
Verse Commentary:
The Philistines heard that all of Israel had gathered at Mizpah. In their minds, the only explanation for this congregation was preparing for battle. Rather than being caught off guard, the five lords of the Philistines assembled their armies and marched toward Mizpah to defeat the Israelites before they could launch their rebellion (1 Samuel 7:7).

However, the people of Israel were not planning an attack. Instead, they gathered to repent from their sin. They met to ask God to deliver them from the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:3–6). Now, though, the Philistines were approaching fast.

In response to the urging of the people (1 Samuel 7:8), Samuel offers an un-weaned—"nursing," or "suckling"—lamb as a whole burnt offering before the Lord. Animals could be sacrificed to the Lord once they were eight days old (Leviticus 22:27). The purpose of using the whole animal as a burnt offering was usually for atonement (Leviticus 1:4).

In addition to the offering, Samuel verbally calls out to God on behalf of His people Israel. The Lord hears and answers Samuel. The answer is apparently given in the form of what the Lord does next to spare His people from the Philistines.
Verse Context:
First Samuel 7:3–14 begins with Samuel's instructions for the people to throw away their foreign gods and serve the Lord only. The nation gathers at Mizpah to confess and repent. Seeing what looks like an amassed army, the Philistines plan an attack. Samuel offers a sacrifice and cries out to the Lord, who thunders against the Philistines and throws them into confusion. The Israelites strike them down and drive them out of Israelite territory. Israel also has peace with the local Amorites.
Chapter Summary:
Twenty years after the ark of the Lord is taken to Kiriath-jearim, Samuel calls for the people to repent. They should discard foreign gods and serve the true Lord. Gathered at Mizpah, the people confess their sin. With the Philistines approaching to attack, Samuel offers a sacrifice and cries out to God. The Lord responds with loud thunder against the Philistines and throws them into confusion. The Israelites strike them down and drive them out of Israelite territory. Samuel serves as judge over Israel for the rest of his life.
Chapter Context:
First Samuel 7 begins with the arrival of the previously captured ark of the covenant (1 Samuel 4—6) at Kiriath-jearim. There it sits for twenty years. Samuel then calls the people to repent and throw away the foreign gods they have been worshiping. At Mizpah, the nation is gathered to confess their sin and fast. With the Philistines approaching, Samuel offers a sacrifice and cries out to God. The Lord confuses the Philistines, and the Israelites strike them down and force them out of Israelite territory. Unfortunately, after this, Israel will seek to appoint a king so they can be like the other nations in the area (1 Samuel 8).
Book Summary:
First Samuel introduces the key figures who led Israel after the era of the judges. The books of 1 and 2 Samuel were originally part of a single text, split in certain translations shortly before the birth of Christ. Some of the Bible’s most famous characters are depicted in this book. These including the prophet Samuel, Israel’s first king, Saul, her greatest king, David, and other famous names such as Goliath and Jonathan. By the end of this book, Saul has fallen; the book of 2 Samuel begins with David’s ascension to the throne.
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