After twenty years of spiritual indecisiveness, the Bible says that “the whole house of Israel longed for the Lord.” The Israelites accepted Samuel’s spiritual challenge “the Israelites removed the Baals and the Ashtoreths and only worshiped the Lord.” (1 Samuel 6:4). To formalize Israel’s renewed relationship with God, Samuel called all the people to assemble “at Mizpah.” Mizpah was formerly a center for tribal convocations during the period of the Judges (Judges 20:1). Samuel called for a time of intercessory prayer, fasting, and confession of sin.
Then Israel did something that had never been done before, they “drew water and poured it out in the Lord’s presence” (1 Samuel 6:6). They evidently were denying themselves water in the desert as a symbolic confession that the Lord’s approval was more important to them than life-sustaining water.
The bible says, “They fasted that day.” But just as importantly, “they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.”
For the first time in the Book of 1 Samuel, Samuel is shown acting as Israel’s “leader.” At Mizpah, Samuel began the ministry of Israel’s most respected judge/prophet since Moses. In his role as judge, Samuel’s task was to bring the Israelites into compliance with the Lord’s judgments and to mobilize His covenant people in the task of bringing God’s judgments to bear on His enemies.