Bible Commentaries

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

1 Samuel 4

Verses 1-22

1 Samuel 4:1 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Ebenezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek.

1 Samuel 4:3 And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

1 Samuel 4:3 “Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us today before the Philistines” - Comments - Israel knew that the victory belongs to the Lord, whether greater or small. They knew this well from the time of Joshua.

1 Samuel 4:3 “Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us” - Comments - The practice of taking the ark into battle was a part of King David's strategy as well (2 Samuel 11:11).

2 Samuel 11:11, “And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents ; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.”

1 Samuel 4:4 So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

1 Samuel 4:5 And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again.

1 Samuel 4:4-5 Comments Israel’s Misdirected Faith in the Ark - It was definitely against God’s will to enter the Holy of Holies more than once a year. Their faith was in an object and not in God. It was at this time that Shiloh is no longer mentioned in Scriptures as the center of Israelite worship. Psalms 78:60 says that God forsook the tabernacle at Shiloh. Perhaps this was the incident that is being referred to in the book of Psalms. Jeremiah says that Israel trusted in this building and its articles rather than in God (Jeremiah 12-14).

Psalms 78:60, “So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh , the tent which he placed among men;”

Jeremiah 7:12-14, “But go ye now unto my place which was in Shiloh, where I set my name at the first, and see what I did to it for the wickedness of my people Israel. And now, because ye have done all these works, saith the LORD, and I spake unto you, rising up early and speaking, but ye heard not; and I called you, but ye answered not; Therefore will I do unto this house, which is called by my name, wherein ye trust , and unto the place which I gave to you and to your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh.”

1 Samuel 4:9 Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight.

1 Samuel 4:9 Comments - We find a number of examples of the phrase “Be strong, and quit yourselves like men” in Scripture. The children of Israel encouraged themselves in the Lord:

Judges 20:22, “And the people the men of Israel encouraged themselves, and set their battle again in array in the place where they put themselves in array the first day.”

The Philistines were able to encourage themselves and win the battle. See:

1 Samuel 4:7-9, “And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. Be strong, and quit yourselves like men , O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight.”

Note that there was another time when David encouraged himself in the Lord.

1 Samuel 30:6, “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God .”

King David told his son Solomon to be strong like a man should be.

1 Kings 2:2, ”I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man;”

God told Job to gird up his loins like a man and interact with Him in dialogue.

Job 38:3, “Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.”

Paul exhorted the Corinthians to be strong like a man as they pursued a lifestyle of sanctification within their church members.

1 Corinthians 16:13, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.”

1 Samuel 4:18 And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.

1 Samuel 4:18 Comments - Eli sat in the gate of the city. So, even though he was evil, he still held a place of authority in the city.

1 Samuel 4:19-22 The Birth of Ichabod - Childbirth should be a time of much joy. However, for Phinehas' wife, it was a time of utter despair, so much so that she did not even regard the birth of her child.

She died at children bearing. The Word of God promises that the godly women live through it. Note 1 Timothy 2:15.

1 Timothy 2:15, “Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

1 Samuel 4:21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.

1 Samuel 4:21 Word Study on “Ichabod” Strong says the Hebrew name “Ichabod” ( אִיכָבֹוד ) (H350) literally means, “inglorious,” or “no glory,” coming from two Hebrew words ( אִי ) (H336), which means, “not” and “kabowd” ( כָּבֹוד ) (H3519), which means, “glory.”

1 Samuel 4:21 Comments Although Eli served as high priest to the children of Israel, he failed as a father in the home to train his children in the ways of the Lord. This lack of discipline in the home was soon reflected in his duties as priest as well. The lamp of the Lord went out in the holy place, and the sons defiled the sacrifices brought unto the Lord.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 4". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.