Bible Commentaries
1 Samuel 7

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

1Sa 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.

Ver. 1. And the men of Kirjathjearim came. ] Notwithstanding the recent slaughter at Bethshemesh; Aliorum perditio horum erat cautio: they had seen their neighbours shipwrecked, and would look better therefore to their own tackling.

And brought it into the house of Abinadab. ] Who was a Levite, saith Josephus, and a good man, Civitatis suae integerrimus, as one saith of Phocion, the Athenian.

In the hill. ] Which hill, saith Beda, overlooked and commanded the whole town, and was therefore a fit place for the ark, which was quasi arx totius Israelis, the beauty and bulwark of all Israel. As for Shiloh, either it was destroyed when the ark was taken, or else abhorred by God for the filthiness there committed by those profane priests, the two sons of Eli.

To keep the ark of the Lord. ] Which was properly the office of the high priest’s son. Num 4:16

Verse 2

1Sa 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.

Ver. 2. The time was long; for it was twenty years, ] viz., Ere Samuel could bring them to this solemn conversion related in the verses following: so tough is the old Adam, and so difficult a thing it is to work upon such as are habituated and hardened in sinful practices. Samuel’s song had been, as was afterwards Jeremiah’s, Jer 13:27 "Woe unto thee, O Jerusalem! wilt thou not be made clean? when shall it once be?" Sed surdo fabulam; they refused to return, till God stopped them with the cross, suffered the Philistines grievously to oppress them, and then

All the house of Israel lamented after the Lord. ] Lamentatione quadam post Dominum universa domus Israel anhela fuit; so the Tigurines translate: they groaned in spirit, and sighed after the Lord, with storms of sighs, and showers of tears, from a right principle of "sorrow according to God." Some sense the words thus, they lamented after the Lord, that is, they could never go to worship but in fear of some mischief, because now the ark was in confinio Philistaeorum, in a place that bordered upon the Philistines; so that they did eat the bread of their souls in peril of their lives: as did also here the good people in Queen Mary’s days.

Verse 3

1Sa 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.

Ver. 3. And Samuel spahe unto all the house of Israel. ] He doth not presently cheer them up, but presseth them to a thorough reformation: and giveth them to know that their sorrow must bear some proportion to their sin. See the like done by Peter, in Acts 2:37-38 .

If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts. ] Not giving the half turn only, as temporaries, but doing it truly, that there be no halting, and totally, that there be no halving. Some think that the sullen Israelites, offended at God’s severity against the Beth-shemites, had neglected the ark, and gone after strange gods; till now that, heavily oppressed by the Philistines, they "lamented after the Lord": and Samuel, taking that opportunity, persuadeth them to return to him who had smitten them.

Put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth. ] Away with them all, but especially Ashtaroth, because that ye do most doat upon. "Thou shalt cast them away as a menstruous cloth; thou shalt say unto it, Get thee hence." Isa 30:22

And prepare your hearts unto the Lord. ] Devote them wholly to his fear, divide them not betwixt him and idols.

Verse 4

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

Ver. 4. Then the children of Israel did put away, &c. ] Their he-gods and their she-gods: so powerful is the word coming upon the rod, when God is pleased by his Spirit to second and set it on. Samuel might speak persuasively, as doubtless he had done for twenty years before, but God only persuadeth the heart.

Verse 5

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

Ver. 5. Gather all Israel to Mizpeh. ] Heb., In that Mizpeh; famous formerly for the slaughter of those kings of Canaan there, Jos 11:3 but henceforth more famous for this memorable meet at Mizpeh; which they turned into a Bacha, and God afterwards turned into a Beracha. a

a Kimchi. Vatab.

Verse 6

1Sa 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.

Ver. 6. And drew water, and poured it out before the Lord. ] That is, saith the Chaldee Paraphrast, They wept abundantly, as if their hearts had been springs, and their eyes as the fish pools of Heshbon. Some think that they did really draw water and pour it out, in token that they did pour out their souls to God in prayer; a and by this ceremony they did further stir up themselves also so to do. They seemed to say in effect, We could wish to shed as many tears for our sins as there are drops of water in this bucket; but because we cannot do this, behold, we do what we can. Some think that by this "water poured out," they washed off the ashes that they had sprinkled on their heads, in token of their true repentance. Others, that hereby they acknowledged themselves to be in no better condition than as water spilt on the ground, &c.

a Hyperbolica expressio ingentis lamentationis. - Jun.

Verse 7

1Sa 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.

Ver. 7. The lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. ] Not without their forces, as fearing this convention tended to a rebellion. So do savage beasts bristle up themselves and make the most fierce assaults, when they are in danger of losing the prey which they had once seized on. But these Philistines took a very ill time for themselves to come upon the Israelites, whilst they were fasting and praying. They should shortly find, whatever the poor Israelites now thought in their fright, that there was more good to be done precando quam praeliando; and that those with whom God taketh part must needs prevail. But wicked men are even ambitious of destruction. Judgments need not go to find them out; they run to meet their bane.

Verse 8

1Sa 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.

Ver. 8. Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us. ] Samuel they knew to be a Pethuel, Joe 1:1 a God persuader, a man mighty in prayer, a favourite, and one that had the royalty of God’s ear; they beg of him therefore to exercise his faculty, and to improve his interest in God for them in this exigent, Ne destituas nos ope tua quam praestare potes clamando ad Dominum. a Help us, say they, now at a dead lift. So the people afterwards told David at Mahanaim, that he should not go into the field with them, but that he "should succour them," viz., by his prayers, "out of the city." 2Sa 18:3

a Vatab.

Verse 9

1Sa 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.

Ver. 9. And Samuel took a sucking lamb. ] A figure of that Lamb undefiled and without spot, Jesus Christ, by whom we prevail over all our spiritual enemies, as here Israel did over the Philistines. It was a sucking lamb, to show, haply, that the people purposed to be renewed in piety and holiness a - a lamb of no great price, to show that God looketh not to the greatness of the gift, but to the heart of the offerer. b

And offered it for a burnt offering. ] This he might do as a prophet, though no priest, saith Kimchi. See 1 Kings 18:30-31 .

And Samuel cried unto the Lord. ] He was famous for calling upon God’s name with singular success. Psa 99:6 Jer 15:1

And the Lord heard him. ] So he doth all such as bring unto him honest hearts and lawful petitions: these are sure of not miscarrying returns of their prayers.

a Diod.

b Pet. Martyr.

Verse 10

1Sa 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.

Ver. 10. And as Samuel was offering. ] If Numa, king of Rome, could say, when he was sacrificing, and heard of the enemy’s approach, Eγω δε θυω , Yea, but I am serving my gods, and therefore I fear them not; a how much more might Samuel say so!

But the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day. ] As Hannah had foretold; 1Sa 2:10 as happened; Jos 10:10 Jdg 4:15 as also at the prayers of the thundering legion under Antoninus, the emperor; b and in the days of Theodosius, when that good prince, being to fight with Eugenius the tyrant, Dominum Christum solus solum corpore humi fusus mente caelo fixus orabat, he prayed heartily to Jesus Christ, the stars and meteors fought for him, which made Claudian, though a heathen, cry out, O nimium dilecte Deo, &c. c So we read of a terrible tempest that fell upon the Turks, fighting against the Persians, which they imputed to the magicians; but the Lord sent it. d

And they were smitten before Israel. ] Who were not slack to set in with God when he, as out of an engine, e appeared for them.

a Plut., in Vita Numae.

b Euseb., lib. v. cap. 5.

c Oros., lib. vii. cap. 35.

d Preacher’s Travels, 49.

e απο μηχανης .

Verse 11

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

Ver. 11. Until they came under Bethcar. ] The name of that rock, saith Junius, which in the next verse is called Shen. Bethcar signifieth the house of a lamb , and might have its name from the lamb offered by Samuel.

Verse 12

1Sa 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.

Ver. 12. Then Samuel took a stone, and set it. ] As a trophy or lasting monument of that day’s victory. So when the Spanish armada was defeated here in 1588, money was coined with a navy flying away at full sail, and this inscription, Venit, Vidit, Fugit. It came, it saw, it fled.

Between Mizpeh and Shen. ] Where, before, the Israelites had been beaten, and the ark taken. 1Sa 4:1

And called the name of it Ebenezer, ] i.e., The stone of help. So the place where Charles the Great vanquished his enemies was called Mons adiutorii, the hill of help a Alexander the Great called the mountain where he overcame Darius, Nicatorium, or the place of conquest. b

Hitherto hath the Lord helped us. ] And we trust he will do so still; for every former mercy is a pledge of a future.

a Crantz., Har., lib. ii. cap. 4.

b Strabo.

Verse 13

1Sa 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.

Ver. 13. And they came no more, ] sc., With any success; or they did no more at this time rally their scattered troops and recruit their army, they were so terrified.

Verse 14

1Sa 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.

Ver. 14. And the cities. ] So crest fallen were the Philistines after their recent overthrow. Nemo confidat nimium secundis. Let no one be excessively confident the second time.

Between Israel and the Amorites. ] The Philistines and the rest.

Verse 15

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

Ver. 15. And Samuel judged Israel. ] Being a mixed person, a prophet and a judge, as among the heathen, Anius was

Rex idem hominum Phoebique sacerdos. ” - Virg.

Saul was the ordinary judge, and Samuel the extraordinary.

Verse 16

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

Ver. 16. And he went from year to year in circuit. ] For the people’s ease and conveniency; which the magistrate ought to provide for, as Jethro adviseth. Exo 18:17-23

Verse 17

1Sa 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.

Ver. 17. And his return was to Ramah. ] There was his house.

There he judged Israel. ] Being ever in action for the public good.

And there he built an altar, ] i.e., At Ramah, either for a monument of piety, or for extraordinary sacrifices.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 7". Trapp's Complete Commentary. 1865-1868.