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Bible Commentaries

Bridgeway Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 4

Verses 1-22


The Philistines capture the ark (4:1-22)

For many years the Philistines had oppressed Israel (Judges 13:1). Samson had begun to save Israel from them (Judges 13:5), but the Philistines now fought back and decided to extend their rule further into Israel’s territory. The Israelites should have realized that their defeats were God’s punishments upon them because of their sin, and turned to him in repentance. Instead they thought that they would guarantee his help by carrying the symbol of his presence (the ark of the covenant) on to the battlefield, after the manner of their heathen neighbours (4:1-4; cf. 2 Samuel 5:21). God showed clearly that he had withdrawn his help from Israel by allowing the ark to be captured (5-11).

Eli must have realized that the death of his two sons in battle fulfilled God’s previously announced judgment, but he seems to have been more shocked at the capture of the ark. He died that day (12-18). So too did Eli’s daughter-in-law, who was also shocked at the capture of the ark. God had surely departed from Israel (19-22).

This was probably the time when Shiloh, the religious centre of the nation, was destroyed (Psalms 78:60-19.78.61; Jeremiah 7:12,Jeremiah 7:14; Jeremiah 26:6). But the priests managed to escape to Nob, taking with them whatever they could of the house of God (see 21:1-6; 22:18-19; 1 Kings 8:4).


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Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 4". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/1-samuel-4.html. 2005.