This a slight reworking of the last portion of my sermon from 12/10/23.
The end of 1 Samuel 7 describes the great blessings that accrued to Israel because of Samuel’s ministry as priest, prophet, and judge. Samuel, like Moses, held a multiplicity of offices usually assigned to many men instead of one. It was obviously not designed to be a permanent situation. At this point in history, Samuel is a one man show. These concluding verses about his ministry (before Israel rejects him by asking for a king in chapter 8) give us a chance to review the game film from chapters 4-7.
Remember the pattern here: Israel fought the Philistines and lost at Aphek because their priests and worship were corrupt. Twenty years later, they  fought the Philistines again and won because they had turned to the Lord and put away their idols. The result is that their lost cities were restored, territory regained, and peace prevailed in the land. The forty years (cf. Judges 13:10) period of Philistine oppression came to an end. Samuel set up a memorial stone and called it Ebenezer, meaning “stone of help” because the Lord had helped Israel get the victory.
Samuel is obviously the most important man in Israel at this point in time. But 1 Samuel 7:17 underscores his most important role, which is not in the nation’s civic life as judge but in its liturgical life as priest. This is a time in which there is no central sanctuary so worship of the Lord in high places is legitimate. Samuel builds an altar so he can continue to gather for people for worship as he did at Mizpah. While Samuel was something of a circuit riding judge in various cities in Israel, 7:17 suggests his liturgical work was central and foundational (just as his preaching ministry had been critical to bringing Israel to repentance).
There is no way to have social righteousness without faithful worship. The pulpit, the table, and the psalter are crucial to the Christian reconstruction of society. It is impossible to have a faithful state without a faithful church at the core of society.
This is the whole point of the cycle of stories in 1 Samuel 4-7. This is the lesson of the Battles of Aphek and Mizpah. It is a lesson all nations must learn; it is a principle not limited to old covenant Israel: Nations rise and fall according to who and how they worship. Nations that worship the true God in reverent joy will prosper over time. Nations that serve idols, or worship the true God irreverently, will crumble. American Christians today need to hear this loud and clear. If we just fight the culture war, we will lose the culture war. But if we fight the Spiritual and liturgical battles — if we worship the Lord comprehensively and reverently — we will win that war, and get the culture war thrown in. 
Liturgy precedes dominion. Think of Abraham who built altars and dug wells as he toured through the promised land, generations before his descendants would conquer it militarily and culturally. 
Liturgical faithfulness leads to cultural transformation. That’s the blueprint God has given us. The Israelites worshipped God faithfully, and then got victory and peace.
Think about the most hardcore right-wing culture warriors you know. How many of them go to church regularly? How many of them go to a church that sings psalms regularly? How many them have vibrant prayer lives? How many of them love the preached Word? There are a lot of secular conservatives out there who want to “own the libs” and obsess over winning the culture war but their way of fighting is not going to lead anywhere. It’s disconnected from the gospel, from worship, from the church. But there are many Christians engaged in the culture war who are also impotent because their do not build their lives around the worship of God. They have never sung a psalm. They do not value church membership or attendance. They do like being undertake authority of elders or having to serve others in a covenant community. And so despite having great arguments, they do not labor under the blessing of God in their efforts to reform the culture.
American Christians are running out of time to figure this out. The Philistines have controlled our cities and culture for quite some time. We have sought to change the culture in all the usual ways: We have aimed at winning elections by getting better candidates on the ballot. We have tried to get better justices in our courts. We worked at getting righteous laws passed.  We have tried to provide cleaner entertainment and art than what the world produces. We have created an alternative economy in many areas. All these things can be very good endeavors in the proper place and we should pursue them. But still, things just keep getting worse and worse. Why? Is it possible we have missed the key lesson from passages like 1 Samuel 7? Maybe, just maybe we need to try something else. Maybe, just maybe, we need to run the same play Samuel called for Israel — we need to build altars, offer liturgical sacrifice, pray, and preach. Maybe our strategy should focus on the liturgy more than the culture. Maybe we should fix our attention on God more than the enemy.
This strategy worked for Israel 3000 years ago. I believe it can work in America today.