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The events recorded in this Chapter are much more pleasing than what hath been said of Israel a long time before. Here is an account of the men of Kirjath-jearim fetching the ark and placing it in an house. The Israelites are represented as mourning after the Lord. The history of Samuel is renewed, his government, and victory over the Philistines. He set up the stone of help between Mizpeh and Shen, and called it Ebenezer in token of God's help and his blessing again of Israel.
1 Samuel 7:1
(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.
This verse leads us to remark the different conduct of the men of Kirjath-jearim, to that of the men of Beth-shemesh. Jesus is a sweet savor to his people, and a precious chief corner-stone to them that believe. But a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence to them that stumble at the word, being disobedient. 1 Peter 2:6-8 . Reader! may it be your happiness and mine, as Eleazar the son of Abinadab received the ark into his house, to receive Jesus whom the ark typified, into our hearts, and that He may be formed there, the hope of glory.
(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.
It is difficult to explain this verse, or to account for what we read in it. Was it possible for Israel to remain so long satisfied with the want of the ark, that it should continue in the private house of Eleazar without altar and without sacrifice? Where was Samuel all this while, and how could his gracious soul brook all this. I beg the Reader however not to overlook what is said from this long absence of the ark; all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord. No doubt the Lord poured out of his Holy Spirit upon Israel, and then Israel felt the sweet influences of grace. As it is said that all Israel lamented after the Lord, some have thought that the blessed effects from this outpouring of the Spirit, was not unsimilar, though not in an open display of it, to that of Pentecost. Reader! it is a precious token of God's favour for good, when after the want of ordinances, the Spirit of grace is given to lead sinners to lament after them.
(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.
The Reader must rejoice in the introduction of Samuel again in this place, as from his appearance there is great reason to hope good. Probably, though Samuel had continued his ministry, yet it was so little regarded, that we find from his now persuading them yet more earnestly than ever to put away their idols, they had set up the general practice of idolatry in the land. Alas! what is the history of faithful ministers when their ministry falls to the ground, in the unfaithfulness of the people.
(4) Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only.
Baalim is plural, meaning several God's. Ashtaroth is singular and feminine, and therefore means but one, and that a she goddess. Is this Israel the beloved people of God who are thus led away to these filthy and dumb idols?
(5) And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD. (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.
There is somewhat very interesting in this account, because here we see Samuel as the type of Jesus in his mediatorial character as the intercessor. Oh! how sweet and refreshing it is to view even the most distant shadows of him whose glorious office as the advocate and intercessor, is the sure hope and confidence of his people in all ages! Psalms 110:4 . The ceremony of pouring out water before the Lord, probably carried with it the idea of real sorrow and weeping of the soul by reason of transgression.
(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. (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. (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.
It should seem from this relation, that while Israel was unarmed and engaged in their devout services, the Philistines came upon them; and that Samuel in consequence thereof, was determined to trust to sacrifice and prayer more than to the sword. He engaged the Lord of hosts on his side, and the Lord as in several instances before fought for Israel, while Israel held their peace. But Reader! do not fail to remark how the prophet did it. By sacrifice and prayer! was not this with an eye to Jesus? Was not the sucking lamb typical of the lamb slain from the foundation of the world? And was not the unceasing prayer of Samuel a representation of his eternal priesthood, whoever liveth to make intercession for sinners? Precious Jesus! how satisfying the thought, how refreshing the consideration, that every sacrifice, every offering under the law, and all the prayers of thy servants, derive their efficacy wholly from thy one all-sufficient sacrifice, by which thou hast forever perfected them that are sanctified: and by thy all prevailing mediation, by which alone all our persons and all our prayers find acceptance in the beloved!
(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. (11) And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar.
There is a sweet promise of our covenant God, and here, as in a thousand other instances, it was instantly fulfilled. Before my people call (saith God) I will answer, and while they are yet speaking I will hear. Isaiah 65:24 .
(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.
This spot between Mizpeh and Shen, was rendered the more memorable because this was the very spot where 20 years before the Philistines had defeated Israel. See 1 Samuel 4:1-2 . Reader! how many Ebenezers have you and I erected of deliverances and mercies? Alas! if we cannot point to very, very many, it is not because our gracious God hath afforded no remarkable occasions for them; but because they have passed by unnoticed and disregarded from our ungrateful and unworthy minds. How much owest thou unto my Lord? is a question, I would pray for grace to put to my soul in the close of every day and night.
(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.
The ministry of Samuel was so much blessed, that the Philistines dared not invade Israel all his days. We learn that the passover was observed during the government of Samuel, though the ark was not with them. See 2 Chronicles 35:18 .
(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.
Whether Ekron and Gath were included in this recovery of the lands to Israel, is not said; but it may serve to show us the influence and power of Israel at this time, for even the Amorites dared not disturb the peace of Israel; When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7 .
(15) And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. (16) And he went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places. (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.
This account of Samuel's administration is but short, but it is highly honorable. His annual circuit for the looking into things himself, shows his great vigilance; and the altar he built unto the Lord, proves his gracious intercourse with Heaven. No doubt, as Samuel was a child of prayer, his manhood was eminently distinguished by a life of prayer, and that his great influence and authority arose from the intimate communion and fellowship he had with God. The Holy Ghost hath ranked him among the worthies of faith, and given us thereby authority to say, that it was through faith that he subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, and obtained promises. Hebrews 11:32-33 .
REMARK, my soul, in the perusal of this Chapter, the first renewings of grace in the blessed fruits and effects of it; all hearts, like those of Israel, then will go forth in Lamentations after the Lord. There will be no real enquiries, no heart-searching sorrow, though ordinances may be restrained, and even the ark of the divine presence be away, even to twenty years continuance, as in Israel, until the Lord pours out the renewings of his Spirit. But when this precious gift is dispensed, then the soul looks unto him whom it hath pierced, and will mourn. Oh! most holy Father! of thine infinite mercy bestow this blessing, this covenant promise on my soul: lead me by thy gracious influence unto the precious Jesus, that the goings forth of my desires may be unceasingly after him and to him, who is indeed the ark and the mercy-seat, the offering and propitiation for sin.
In beholding Samuel as praying for the people, offering the stucking-Lamb, and crying for Israel, unto the Lord, I would pass over the servant, to view in him the shadow of his master; and would behold in him the typical representation of thee, thou blessed Jesus, for thou art the sum and substance of all the shadows of thy ministering servants. They offered all by faith, and had an eye in all their offerings to thee, who art, in all the ages of thy church, both the sacrifice and High Priest, the golden altar and the ark, on which all offerings are made. However veiled in covering under the darker dispensation of those ages before thy coming, yet so much of gospel every rite contained, that the holy men of old could, and did, see enough in those sacrifices made under the law, to behold by faith thy person and righteousness, with all the glorious circumstances of redemption secretly and mysteriously included. Yes! dearest Jesus! in all ages thy faithful ones knew thee, loved thee, lived to thee, were strong in thee, and in the power of thy might! Be thou to me, therefore, holy Saviour, all and in all, in every word of thy sacred scripture. Oh! give me to see and unceasingly to live in the same blessed privileges. In thy dear person, righteousness, love, grace, and power, may I know myself to be eternally secure: so that no Philistines may anymore come into the coasts of thine Israel. Like Samuel, on Jesus the rock of ages, would I build an altar of earth to Jehovah, In him would I offer all my offerings. Through him would I make all my poor presentations. From him and his all-perfect sacrifice would I seek acceptance; and to him, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, would I ascribe all the praise.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 7". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29