1 When the men of Kiriath-Jearim received the message, they came to Beth-Shemesh and took the sacred chest of Yahweh. They took it to the house of Abinadab, which was on a hillside. They appointed Abinadab's son Eleazar to take care of the chest.
2 The sacred chest stayed in Kiriath-Jearim for a long time. It stayed there for twenty years. During that time all the people of Israel mourned because it seemed that Yahweh had abandoned them (OR, and then they asked Yahweh to help them).
Yahweh rescued the Israelis
3 Then Samuel said to all the Israeli people, “If you truly [IDI] want to act like Yahweh's people should, you must get rid of your statues of the goddess Astarte and the idols/statues of all the other foreign gods. You must decide to serve/worship only Yahweh. If you do that, he will rescue you from the power of [MTY] the Philistia people.” 4 So the Israelis got rid of all their statues of the gods Baal and Astarte, and they worshiped only Yahweh.
5 Then Samuel told them, “All you Israeli people must gather with me at Mizpah. Then I will pray to Yahweh for you.” 6 So they gathered at Mizpah, which was the town where Samuel previously was the leader of the Israeli people. They had a big ceremony there. They drew water from a well, and poured the water on the ground while Yahweh watched. To show that they were sorry for having worshiped idols, they did not eat any food on that day, and they confessed that they had sinned against Yahweh.
7 When the kings of the Philistia area heard that the Israeli people had gathered at Mizpah, they led their armies there to attack the Israelis. When the Israelis found out that the Philistia army was approaching them, they became very afraid. 8 They told Samuel, “Pray to Yahweh to rescue us from the Philistia army [MTY], and do not stop pleading!” 9 So Samuel took a very young lamb and killed it and offered it to Yahweh to be a sacrifice that was completely burned on the altar. Then he prayed and pleaded that Yahweh would help the Israelis, and Yahweh did help them.
10 While Samuel was burning the offering, the Philistia army came near to attack the Israelis. But Yahweh caused it to thunder very loudly. The men of the Philistia army became very frightened, and then they ◄became confused/did not know what to do►. So the Israelis were able to defeat them. 11 The Israeli men ran out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistia soldiers almost to Beth-Car town, and killed many Philistia soldiers while they were trying to run away.
12 After that happened, Samuel took a large stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah towns. He named the stone 'Ebenezer', which means 'stone of help', because he said “Yahweh has helped us until the present time.” 13 So the Philistia people were defeated, and for a long time they did not enter the Israeli land to attack them again. During the time that Samuel was alive, Yahweh powerfully protected [MTY] the Israeli people from being attacked by the Philistia army.
14 The Israeli army was able to capture again the Israeli villages between Ekron and Gath that the Philistia army had captured before. The Israelis were also able to take again the other areas around those cities that the Philistia army had taken from the Israelis previously. And there was peace between the Israelis and the Amor people-group.
15 Samuel continued to be the leader of the Israeli people until he died. 16 Every year he traveled back and forth between Bethel and Gilgal and Mizpah cities. In those cities he listened to disputes between people and made decisions about them. 17 After he made decisions in each of those towns, he returned to his home at Ramah, and he would listen to people's disputes there, also, and make decisions about them. And he built an altar at Ramah to offer sacrifices to Yahweh.