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God’s people, the Israelites, had started worshipping the idols of their neighbors, the Philistines. One of these idols was Baal, the Philistine god of thunder and rain. Many Israelites had little idols of Baal in their houses.

God sent Samuel to talk to the people. “Remember, the name Israel means ‘ruled by God,’ ” he began. “Turn back to God with all your hearts! Throw away your idols. Give yourselves to God and serve Him.”

The people of Israel listened to Samuel. They broke all their idols and began to worship God again.

“Come meet at Mizpah,” Samuel told the people. “I will pray to the Lord for you there.”

So the people gathered at Mizpah. “We have sinned against the Lord!” they admitted. “We are sorry. We are really, really sorry.”

The Philistines heard that the Israelites had gone to Mizpah. “Let’s go attack them!” they said. So the Philistine rulers gathered their soldiers and marched toward Mizpah. “The Philistines are coming! The Philistines are coming!” a young man may have shouted as he ran up the dusty road. The Israelites looked at one another with wide eyes. “Ask the Lord to save us from the Philistines!” they begged Samuel. Samuel prayed for the safety of the Israelites. Suddenly, there was the sound of loud thunder from heaven. It echoed from the mountains. It shook the air. It rumbled, rolled, and boomed.

The Philistines were frightened! They dropped their swords and spears. And they ran away as fast as they could go. The Philistines thought their god Baal was the god of thunder. So the true God used thunder to show that only He had power and an idol did not.

Samuel put a large rock for a monument on the road to Mizpah. He wanted the people of Israel to always remember how the true God had saved them. For years to come children would ask, “Why is that big rock there?” And the parents would tell their children the wonderful story.

Samuel led Israel for the rest of his life. He served the Lord all of his days.

Do you want to serve the Lord too? How can you serve Him today?