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This verse belongs more properly to 1 Samuel 6:0. Abinadab and his sons were probably of the house of Levi. The catastrophe at Bethshemesh must inevitably have made the Israelites very careful to pay due honor to the ark in accordance with the Law: but to give the care of the ark to those who were not of the house of Levi would be a gross violation of the Law.
And all the house of Israel lamented ... - The occupation of the country about Shiloh by the Philistines 1 Samuel 7:3 was partly the reason for the ark being kept so long at Kirjath-jearim. But another reason seems to have been the fall of the Israelites into idolatry, which made them neglect the ark, and brought upon them this Philistine servitude; probably the last 20 years of the Philistine oppression described in Judges 13:1, which is there expressly connected with Israelite idolatry. Now, probably, through the exhortations of Samuel, coupled with the chastening of the Philistine yoke, the Israelites repented and turned again to the God of their fathers.
Compare the marginal references. Twenty years of Samuel’s life had passed away since the last mention of him 1 Samuel 4:1. Now he appears in the threefold character of prophet, Judge, and the acknowledged leader of the whole people. His words were an answer to a profession of repentance on the part of Israel, the practical proof of which would be the putting away all their false gods. (Compare Judges 6:10 note.)
Will pray for you ... - So Moses prayed for the people at Rephidim Exodus 17:11-12; and for Miriam Numbers 12:13; so Elijah prayed at Carmel 1 Kings 18:36, 1 Kings 18:42; so Ezra prayed at the evening sacrifice Ezra 9:5; so the High Priest prayed for the house of Israel on the Day of Atonement; and so does our Lord Jesus Christ ever live at God’s right hand to make intercession for us.
Two rites are brought together here which belong especially to the Feast of Tabernacles and the Day of Atonement, respectively, namely, drawing and pouring out water, and fasting. Hence, some think that Samuel chose the Feast of tabernacles, and the fast which preceded it, as the occasion for assembling the people. Others explain the pouring out water as the pouring out the heart in penitence as it were water; or, as a symbolic act expressing their ruin and helplessness 2 Samuel 14:14; or as typifying their desire that their sins might be forgotten “as waters that pass away” Job 11:16.
And Samuel judged - This seems to denote the “commencement” of Samuel’s Judgeship civil and military, as having taken place at Mizpeh on this occasion. As civil Judge he did exactly what Moses did Exodus 18:13-16; as military Judge he did what Othniel, Ehud, Barak, and Gideon had done before him, organized and marshalled the people for effectual resistance to their oppressors, and led them out to victory.
This implies a united invasion by the whole Philistine force. Hence, the terror of the Israelites. (Compare Judges 15:11.)
Samuel’s preparation for intercessory prayer, namely, the offering up an atoning sacrifice, is most significant (compare Luke 1:9-10). The term here used for a “lamb” does not occur in the Pentateuch; indeed it is only found besides this place in Isaiah 65:25. The offering is in accordance with Leviticus 22:27.
The Lord heard him - Better as in margin. The “answer” was not simply the granting the asked-for deliverance, but the great thunder 1 Samuel 7:10, which was “the voice of the Lord,” the same voice with which the Lord answered Moses Exodus 19:19; Psalms 99:6.
Beth-car - This place is nowhere else mentioned. It seems to have stood on a hill overhanging the road from the Philistine territory to Mizpeh, and close to Ebenezer, 1 Samuel 4:1.
Shen was a tooth-pointed or sharp-pointed rock (see 1 Samuel 14:4), nowhere else mentioned and not identified.
All the days of Samuel - Not (as in 1 Samuel 7:15), all the days of his life, but all the days of his “government”, when as Judge he ruled over Israel, before they asked for a king.
This shows the vigour and success of Samuel’s government. He seems not only to have expelled the Philistines from the interior of the Israelite country, but to have attacked them in their own land, and taken from them the cities, with the adjacent territory, which properly belonged to Israel, but which the Philistines had taken possession of. In this war the Amorites, finding the Philistines worse masters than the Israelites, made common cause with Samuel, and assisted the Israelites in their wars against the Philistines.
Samuel judged Israel ... - The repetition of the phrase in 1 Samuel 7:16-17, in connection with Samuel’s circuit, is a proof that it is his civil judgeship which is meant. The military leadership of course belonged to Saul, when he became king.
Gilgal - It is uncertain whether Gilgal in the valley of the Jordan, or the modern Jiljulieh, the Gilgal of 2 Kings 2:1; 2 Kings 4:38, be meant; but far more probably the former (see 1 Samuel 11:14 and note).
And there he built an altar - Whether this altar was in connection with the tabernacle or not we have no means of deciding, since we are in complete ignorance as to where the tabernacle was at this time, or who was High Priest, or where he resided. It is quite possible that Samuel may have removed the tabernacle from Shiloh to some place near to Ramah; and indeed it is in itself improbable that, brought up as he was from infancy in the service of the tabernacle, he should have left it. At the beginning of Solomon’s reign we know it was at Gibeon, close to Raimah 1Ki 3:4; 2 Chronicles 1:3, 2 Chronicles 1:6. If the tabernacle had been at Shiloh at this time, it is likely that Shiloh would have been one of the places at which Samuel judged lsrael. But Shiloh was probably waste, and perhaps unsafe on account of the Philistines.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 7". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
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