1 Samuel 7 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of 1 Samuel 7)

Verse 1

[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.

Fetch up — That is, by the priests appointed to that work.

Hill — This place they chose, both because it was a strong place, where it would be the most safe; and an high place, and therefore visible at some distance, which was convenient for them, who were at that time to direct their prayers and faces towards the ark. And for the same reason David afterwards placed it in the hill of Sion.

Sanctified Eleazar — Not that they made him either Levite or Priest; for in Israel persons were not made but born such; but they devoted, or set him apart wholly to attend upon this work.

His son — Him they chose rather than his father, because he was younger and stronger, and probably freed from domestic cares, which might divert him from, or disturb him in this work.

To keep the ark — To keep the place where it was, clean, and to guard it that none might touch it, but such as God allowed to do so.

Verse 2

[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.

Kirjath-jearim — Where it continued, and was not carried to Shiloh its former place, either because that place was destroyed by the Philistines when the ark was taken, or because God would hereby punish the wickedness of the people of Israel, by keeping it in a private place near the Philistines, whether the generality of the people durst not come.

Twenty years — He saith not, that this twenty years was all the time of the ark's abode there, for it continued there from Eli's time 'till David's reign, 2 Samuel 6:2, which was forty years: but that it was so long there before the Israelites were sensible of their sin and misery.

Lamented — That is, they followed after God with lamentations for his departure, and prayers for his return.

Verse 3

[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.

Spake — To all the rulers and people too, as he had occasion in his circuit, described below, mixing exhortation to repentance, with his judicial administrations.

If — If you do indeed what you profess, if you are resolved to go on in that which you seem to have begun.

With all your heart — Sincerely and in good earnest.

Put — Out of your houses, where some of you keep them; and out of your hearts, where they still have an interest in many of you.

Ashtaroth — And especially, Ashtaroth, whom they, together with the neighbouring nations, did more eminently worship.

Prepare your hearts — By purging them from all sin, and particularly from all inclinations to other gods.

Verse 6

[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.

Poured it out — As an external sign, whereby they testified, both their own filthiness and need of washing by the grace and Spirit of God, and blood of the covenant, and their sincere desire to pour out their hearts before the Lord, in true repentance, and to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit.

Before the Lord — That is, in the public assembly, where God is in a special manner present.

Judged — That is, governed them, reformed all abuses against God or man, took care that the laws of God should be observed, and wilful transgressions punished.

Verse 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.

Went up — With an army, suspecting the effects of their general convention, and intending to nip them in the bud.

Afraid — Being a company of unarmed persons, and unfit for battle. When sinners begin to repent and reform, they must expect Satan will muster all his forces against them, and set his instruments at work to the uttermost, to oppose and discourage them.

Verse 8

[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.

Cease not, … — We are afraid to look God in the face, because of our great wickedness: do thou therefore intercede for us, as Moses did for his generation. They had reason to expect this, because he had promised to pray for them, had promised them deliverance from the Philistines, and they had been observant of him, in all that he had spoken to them from the Lord. Thus they who receive Christ as their lawgiver and judge, need not doubt of their interest in his intercession. O what a comfort is it to all believers, that he never ceaseth, but always appears in the presence of God for us.

Verse 9

[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.

Cried — And he cried unto the Lord. He made intercession with the sacrifice. So Christ intercedes in virtue of his satisfaction. And in all our prayers we must have an eye to his great oblation, depending on him for audience and acceptance.

Verse 12

[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.

A stone — A rude unpolished stone, which was not prohibited by that law, Leviticus 26:1, there being no danger of worshipping such a stone, and this being set up only as a monument of the victory.

Eben-ezer — That is, the stone of help. And this victory was gained in the very same place where the Israelites received their former fatal loss.

Helped us — He hath begun to help us, though not compleatly to deliver us. By which wary expression, he exciteth both their thankfulness for their mercy received, and their holy fear and care to please and serve the Lord, that he might help and deliver them effectually.

Verse 13

[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 — That is, with a great host, but only with straggling parties, or garrisons.

All the days, … — All the days of Samuel that is, while Samuel was their sole judge, or ruler; for in Saul's time they did come.

Verse 14

[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.

Peace — An agreement for the cessation of all acts of hostility.

Amorites — That is, the Canaanites, often called Amorites, because these were formerly the most valiant of all those nations, and the first Enemies which the Israelites met with, when they went to take possession of their land. They made this peace with the Canaanites, that they might he more at leisure to oppose the Philistines, now their most potent enemies.

Verse 15

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

Samuel judged — For though Saul was king in Samuel's last days, yet Samuel did not cease to be a judge, being so made by God's extraordinary call, which Saul could not destroy; and therefore Samuel did sometimes, upon great occasions, tho' not ordinarily, exercise the office of judge after the beginning of Saul's reign; and the years of the rule of Saul and Samuel are joined together, Acts 13:20,21.

Verse 16

[16] And he went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places.

In all places — He went to those several places, in compliance with the people, whose convenience he was willing to purchase with his own trouble, as an itinerant judge and preacher; and by his presence in several parts, he could the better observe, and rectify all sorts of miscarriages.

Verse 17

[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.

Built an altar — That by joining sacrifices with his prayers, he might the better obtain direction and assistance from God upon all emergencies. And this was done by prophetical inspiration, as appears by God's acceptance of the sacrifices offered upon it. Indeed Shiloh being now laid waste, and no other place yet appointed for them to bring their offerings to, the law which obliged them to one place, was for the present suspended. Therefore, as the patriarchs did, he built an altar where he lived: and that not only for the use of his own family, but for the good of the country who resorted to it.