1 Samuel 7

CHAPTER VII

The men of Kirjah-jearim bring the ark from Beth-shemesh, and

consecrate Eleazar, the son of Abinadab, to keep it; and there

it continued twenty years, 1, 2.

Samuel reproves and exhorts the people, and gathers them

together at Mizpeh, where they fast and pray, and confess

their sins, 3-6.

The Philistines go up against them; the Israelites cry unto the

Lord for help; Samuel offers sacrifices; and the Lord confounds

the Philistines with thunder; Israel discomfits and pursues

them to Beth-car, 7-11.

Samuel erects a stone for a memorial, and calls it Eben-ezer,

12.

The Philistines are totally subdued, and Israel recovers all

its lost cities, 13, 14.

Samuel acts as an itinerant judge in Israel, 15-17.

NOTES ON CHAP. VII

Verse 1. Fetched up the ark] When these people received the

message of the Beth-shemites, they probably consulted Samuel, with

whom was the counsel of the Lord, and he had encouraged them to go

and bring it up, else they might have expected such destruction as

happened to the Beth-shemites.

Sanctified Eleazar] Perhaps this sanctifying signifies no more

than setting this man apart, simply to take care of the ark.

Verse 2. It was twenty years] This chapter contains the

transactions of at least twenty years, but we know not the date of

each event.

Verse 3. And Samuel spake] We have heard nothing of this judge

since he served in the tabernacle. He was now grown up, and

established for a prophet in the land of Israel.

If ye do return] From your backsliding and idolatry.

With all your hearts] For outward services and professions will

avail nothing.

Put away the strange gods] Destroy their images, altars, and

groves: they are strange; you do not know them as helpers,

saviours, or defenders.

Prepare your hearts] Let your hearts be straight and steady.

And serve him only] Have no other religious service but his, and

obey his laws.

He will deliver you] Vain are your own exertions; he will

deliver you in such a way as to show that the excellence of the

power is of himself alone.

Verse 4. Put away Baalim and Ashtaroth] These were not two

particular deities, but two genera of idols; the one masculine,

BAALIM; the other feminine, ASHTAROTH; both the words are in the

plural number, and signify all their gods and goddesses.

Verse 5. Gather all Israel to Mizpeh] This appears to have been

an armed assembly, though probably collected principally for

religious and political purposes; but Samuel knew that an unarmed

multitude could not safely be convened in the vicinity of the

Philistines.

Verse 6. Drew water, and poured it out] It is not easy to know

what is meant by this; it is true that pouring out water, in the

way of libation, was a religious ordinance among the Hebrews,

(Isa 12:3,) and among most other nations, particularly the

Greeks and Romans, who used, not only water, but wine, milk,

honey, and blood, as we find by Homer, Virgil, Euripides,

Sophocles, Porphyry, and Lucian. Our Lord seems to allude to this

ceremony, Joh 7:37, 38, where see the note.

The Chaldee Paraphrast understands the place differently, for he

translates: "And they poured out their hearts in penitence, as

WATERS, before the Lord." That deep penitential sorrow was

represented under the notion of pouring out water, we have a

direct proof in the case of David, who says, Ps 22:14,

I am POURED OUT LIKE WATER, my heart is like wax; it is MELTED

in the midst of my bowels. And to repentance, under this very

similitude, the prophet exhorts fallen Jerusalem: Arise, cry out

in the night; in the beginning of the watches POUR OUT thine HEART

LIKE WATER before the face of the Lord; La 2:19. David uses the

same image, Ps 62:8:

Trust in him at all times, ye people; POUR OUT your hearts

before him. The same figure is used by Hannah in 1Sa 1:15 of

this book; I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit; I have POURED OUT

my soul before the Lord. Perhaps the drawing and pouring out of

water mentioned in the text was done emblematically, to represent

the contrition of their hearts.

And Samuel judged] He gave them ordinances, heard and redressed

grievances, and taught them how to get reconciled to God. The

assembly, therefore, was held for religio-politico-military

purposes.

Verse 7. The Philistines went up against Israel] They went to

give them battle before that, by continual accessions of numbers,

they should become too powerful.

Verse 8. Cease not to cry unto the Lord] They had strong

confidence in the intercession of Samuel, because they knew he was

a holy man of God.

Verse 9. Samuel took a sucking lamb] This sucking lamb must have

been eight days under its mother before it could be offered, as

the law says, Le 22:27.

Though Samuel was not a priest, yet he offered this sacrifice;

or he might have ordered Eleazar to offer it, and still be said to

have done it himself: Qui facit per alterum, facit per se; "He who

procures a thing to be done, may be said to do it himself."

His not sacrificing at the tabernacle was justified by the

necessity of the case; neither tabernacle nor ark was at hand.

Verse 10. The Lord thundered with a great thunder] Literally,

The Lord thundered with a great voice-he confounded them with a

mighty tempest of thunder and lightning, and no doubt slew many by

the lightning.

Verse 11. Under Beth-car.] We know not where this place was; the

Septuagint have Beth-chor; the Targum, Beth-saron; and the

Syriac and Arabic, Beth-jasan.

Verse 12. Called the name of it Eben-ezer] Eben haezer,

"The Stone of Help; " perhaps a pillar is meant by the word stone.

Verse 13. They came no more into the coast of Israel] Perhaps a

more signal victory was never gained by Israel; the Lord had

brought them low, almost to extermination; and now, by his

miraculous interference, he lifts them completely up, and humbles

to the dust their proud oppressors. God often suffers nations and

individuals to be brought to the lowest extremity, that he may

show his mercy and goodness by suddenly rescuing them from

destruction, when all human help has most evidently failed.

Verse 14. The cities which the Philistines had taken] We are not

informed of the particulars of these reprisals, but we may rest

assured all this was not done in one day: perhaps the retaking of

the cities was by slow degrees, through the space of several

years.

There was peace between Israel and the Amorites.] That is, all

the remaining Canaanites kept quiet, and did not attempt to molest

the Israelites, when they found the Philistines, the most powerful

of the ancient inhabitants of the land, broken and subdued before

them.

Verse 15. Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.] Samuel

is supposed to have lived one hundred years; he did not begin to

judge Israel till he was about forty years of age; and if he was

one hundred years of age when he died, he must have been a judge

sixty years, and consequently filled that office during the whole

of Saul's reign. But that he had been dead before Saul's last

battle, is evident from the transactions of that king with the

witch of En-dor, and probably not long before. Samuel was the

prophet of that time; declared the will of the Lord, and

frequently directed both the civil and military transactions of

the kingdom. Samuel seems, in many respects, to have been

considered the governor of the people, while Saul was only looked

on as the general of the armies.

Verse 16. He went from year to year in circuit] When he was at

BETH-EL, the tribe of Ephraim, and all the northern parts of the

country, could attend him; when at GILGAL, the tribe of Benjamin,

and those beyond Jordan, might have easy access to him; and when

at MIZPEH, he was within reach of Judah, Simeon, and Gad; but

Ramah was the place of his ordinary abode; and there he held his

court, for there he judged Israel; and, as it is probable that

Shiloh was destroyed, it is said, 1Sa 7:17, that

there (viz., at Ramah) he built an altar unto the Lord. This

altar, being duly consecrated, the worship performed at it was

strictly legal.

Ramah, which is said to be about six miles from Jerusalem, was

the seat of prophecy during the life of Samuel; and there it is

probable all Israel came to consult him on matters of a spiritual

nature, as there was the only altar of God in the land of Israel.

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