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One Samuel Seven

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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1 Samuel 7:1 And the men of Kirjathjearim came, and fetched up the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD.

Kirjath-jearim. Kirjath-jearim was a city belonging to Benjamin (Joshua 18:21, 28), as also were Ramah and Mizpeh (note 1 Samuel 7:6, 17). However, Eleazar was presumably qualified to be a priest and, since he and all the house of Abinadab treated the ark reverently, no harm resulted to Abinadab and his household during the years the ark remained there.

1 Samuel 7:2 And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.

twenty years. The ark was not removed from Abinadab's house until well after the long judgeship of Samuel, the forty-year reign of Saul, and at least eight years of David's reign (1 Samuel 7:1; Acts 13:21; 2 Samuel 5:5). The twenty years mentioned in this verse probably represents the time until Samuel called the people together at Mizpeh, followed by their repentance and subsequent victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:3-13).

1 Samuel 7:3 And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.

1 Samuel 7:4 Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only.

Baalim and Ashtaroth. The worship of Baal and Ashtaroth, the chief god and goddess of the Canaanites, as well as the Moabites, the Phoenicians, and many others, had been a snare to Israel ever since the death of Joshua (Judges 2:13) and continued until the time they were carried into exile in Babylon (Jeremiah 32:28, 29). “Baalim” and “Ashtaroth” are plural nouns, referring to the images of these supposed deities (actually mere personifications of natural phenomena—Ashtaroth, for example, was the goddess of fertility) or to their various manifestations. The worship of these deities was commonly accompanied by unspeakably cruel and licentious rites, and largely accounts for God's command to Israel to destroy them out of the land.

1 Samuel 7:5 And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD.

1 Samuel 7:6 And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the LORD, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the LORD. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.

1 Samuel 7:7 And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines.

1 Samuel 7:8 And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the LORD our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.

1 Samuel 7:9 And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him.

1 Samuel 7:10 And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.

1 Samuel 7:11 And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar.

1 Samuel 7:12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.

Eben-ezer. “Eben-ezer” means “stone of help.”

1 Samuel 7:13 So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.

came no more. The Philistines did continue to come against Israel from time to time (e.g., 1 Samuel 9:16), but never with any measure of success in the days of Samuel.

1 Samuel 7:14 And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron even unto Gath; and the coasts thereof did Israel deliver out of the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.

1 Samuel 7:15 And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.

Samuel judged Israel. Samuel was the last of the judges, his tenure apparently beginning even before the death of Eli (1 Samuel 3:20-4:1). Eli himself, even though he was a priest, may have also served as judge for some forty years before he died (1 Samuel 4:18), but this probably itself overlapped the times of Samson. The ark was carried away by the Philistines on the day of Eli's death. The ark stayed with them for seven months, then was returned to Israel and stayed in the house of Abinadab in Kirjath-jearim at least twenty years before Saul was made king (1 Samuel 6:1; 7:2). It was still many years after that when Samuel died at an old age (1 Samuel 8:5; 25:1) shortly before Saul died. David finally brought the ark to Jerusalem from Abinadab's house (2 Samuel 6:2-12). If Saul's monarchy endured forty years (Acts 13:21), Samuel must have judged Israel almost sixty years.

1 Samuel 7:16 And he went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places.

1 Samuel 7:17 And his return was to Ramah; for there was his house; and there he judged Israel; and there he built an altar unto the LORD.