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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

1 Samuel 7:17

Then his return was to Ramah, for his house was there, and there he judged Israel; and he built there an altar to the Lord .
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Altar;   Court;   Judge;   Ramah;   Samuel;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Altars;   Judges, Extraordinary;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Philistines;   Ramah;   Sacrifice;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Gilgal;   Judges, book of;   Palestine;   Samuel;   Samuel, books of;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Covenant;   Priest, Priesthood;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Prayer;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Ramathaim-Zophim;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Beersheba;   Benjamin;   Pentateuch;   Rama;   Samuel, the Books of;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Court Systems;   Mizpah, Mizpeh;   Ramah;   Samuel;   Samuel, Books of;   Tribes of Israel, the;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Priests and Levites;   Samuel, Books of;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Ramah ;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Ebenezer;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Samuel;   Smith Bible Dictionary - E'phra-Im, Mount,;   Ra'mah;  
Encyclopedias:
Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Samuel the Prophet;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Deuteronomy;   Samuel;   Samuel, Books of;   Sanctuary;   Tabernacle;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Ephraim;   High Place;   Joel;   Judge;   Samuel;  

Bridgeway Bible Commentary


Samuel’s leadership (7:2-17)

During the years of Philistine oppression, Samuel’s position as chief ruler in Israel became firmly established. As a religious leader he commanded the people to turn from idols and worship the Lord only, and the people responded (2-6a). As a civil leader he settled disputes among them (6b). In response to the people’s repentance and Samuel’s prayers for them, God gave Israel a great victory over the Philistines (7-11). The Israelites continued to fight against the Philistines till they had driven them from Israel’s territory completely. From this time on, as long as Samuel remained in control of Israel, the Philistines were of no great trouble to Israel (12-14).
With the destruction of Israel’s tabernacle at Shiloh, the nation’s religious life centred on Samuel, who set up an altar for sacrifice in his home town of Ramah. The civil administration also centred on Samuel, as he moved in an annual circuit around four major towns where he held district courts to settle disputes (15-17).


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 7:17". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/1-samuel-7.html. 2005.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

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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These files are public domain.
Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 7:17". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/1-samuel-7.html. 1870.

Chuck Smith Bible Commentary

Chapter 7

And so the men of Kirjathjearim came, and they took the ark of the Lord; and they brought it to the house of Abinadab on the hill, and sanctified Eleazar the son to keep the ark of the Lord. And it came to pass, while the ark was there at Kirjathjearim, it was there for a long time; for twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord. And Samuel spake to all the house of Israel, saying, If you do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth [Now Ashtaroth was the goddess of sexual love, and the fertility goddess, and they were, the children of Israel worshiping Ashtaroth, and he said, "Put away the gods and Ashtaroth,"] from among you, and prepare your hearts to the Lord, serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. So the children of Israel put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only. And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the Lord. And so they gathered together at Mizpeh, and they drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and he fasted on that day, and said, We have sinned against the Lord. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh. Now when the Philistines heard that they had gathered to Mizpeh, they set up the army against them. And the children of Israel were afraid of the Philistines. And they 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. And Samuel took a suckling lamb, and offered it as a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord: and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him. [Now Samuel beginning to exercise his ministry of intercessory prayer.] 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 on the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came to Bethcar. And then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us ( 1 Samuel 7:1-12 ).

The Ebenezer stone. The word means "the stone of help". Now we sing the song, "Come the fount of every blessing to my heart to sing thy praise. Streams of mercy never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise." Second verse, "Here I raise mine Ebenezer", and you've probably been singing that all your life. What in the world are you raising? "Here I raise mine Ebenezer, hither by Thy help that comes." Actually, it's a stone of memorial, it's a memory kind of a stone. Here I set the stone. God has helped me thus far. God has brought me this far along.

Now actually that's something we can set up every day. You set up Ebenezer, "Well, God brought me this far." Now in that there is always encouragement and hope. For God brought me this far not to dump me. If He wanted to dump me, He would've dumped me a long time ago. Hitherto hath the Lord helped me. The help of the Lord in the past is a prophecy of the help of the Lord in the future. The fact that God has helped me up to this point, gives me assurance He's gonna see me all the way. For the Lord will complete that which concerns you, having begun a good work in your life, He is going to finish it, He's going to complete it. So it is healthy sometimes to set up that memorial "Well God has brought me this far, surely He's not gonna leave me now. He's not gonna forsake me now. Hitherto hath the Lord helped us."

So this was the beginning of the turn of the tide against the Philistines. Up to this point the Philistines had been beating them at every turn, every battle. Now this is the first turn of the tide against the Philistines, and as they came out he set up that stone, he said, "All right the Lord has helped us this far." The first of the beginning of God's work in bringing them victory over their enemies.

So as God brings victories in your lives, set up your Ebenezer stone, "Well, praise the Lord He helped me this far." Stones that mark the places of victory and God's work in my life.

So the Philistines were subdued, they came no more into the coast of Israel: during all the days of Samuel. And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored, from Ekron even to Gath; there was peace between Israel and the Amorites. And Samuel judged all the days of his life, judged Israel. And then he went from year to year in a circuit [So he was sort of a circuit prophet.] and he would go from Bethel, to Gilgal, to Mizpeh, and then return to his home in Ramah ( 1 Samuel 7:13-17 );

Which is the modern city of Ram Allah just north of Israel.

"





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Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 7:17". "Chuck Smith Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/1-samuel-7.html. 2014.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

A. Samuel’s Ministry as Israel’s Judges 7:2-17

As a totally dedicated Nazarite who followed the stipulations of the Mosaic Covenant as best he could, Samuel became a source of deliverance for Israel. The writer recorded two deliverances in this chapter.

This section sounds more like the Book of Judges than does any other in 1 or 2 Samuel. The cycle of religious experience repeated six times in that book occurs here as well. That cycle consists of blessing, apostasy, discipline, repentance, deliverance, rededication, and blessing. Samuel exercised the same function as the judges whose experiences appear on the pages of Judges.

"In the books of Samuel there are three chapters which stand out as markers, characterized by their interpretation of historical changes taking place in Israel’s leadership structure. They are 1 Samuel 7, 1 Samuel 12 and 2 Samuel 7. Not that the remainder of these books is ’non-theological,’ for theological presuppositions undergird the whole, but in these chapters a prophet expounds the divine word for each stage of the crisis through which the people of God are passing." [Note: Baldwin, p. 33.]

Note the continuation of the key word "hand" in this chapter (1 Samuel 7:3; 1 Samuel 7:8; 1 Samuel 7:13-14). It reflects the writer’s continuing interest in the source of true power.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 7:17". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-samuel-7.html. 2012.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

3. Samuel’s regular ministry 7:15-17

In addition to providing the special leadership just described, Samuel’s ministry as a judge in Israel included regular civil, as well as spiritual, leadership. He was active especially in the tribal territory of Benjamin and in the town of Bethel just north of Benjamin in Ephraim’s tribal allotment. Samuel covered a four-town circuit as preacher (prophet) and judge. He was obviously similar to the other judges in the Book of Judges, all of whom also served local regions primarily. It is not clear whether the Gilgal referred to here was the Gilgal in the Jordan Valley near Jericho, or whether it was another Gilgal located a few miles north of Bethel. [Note: Keil and Delitzsch, p. 76, said it was the latter as did Marten H. Woudstra, The Book of Joshua, p. 95, but I have not been able to verify the existence of a Gilgal there.] The fact that Samuel built an altar (1 Samuel 7:17) illustrates his response to God’s grace and his commitment to Yahweh (cf. Genesis 12:7; et al.).

"Brief as the portrait of Samuel here is, it gives us a glimpse of the ideal ruler. He had been provided by God and trained by him; he now showed himself able to read his people’s minds and capable of rebuking them effectively. He was decisive in word and action, and he was fully in touch with God. Nor is his concern to provide justice purely coincidental. Yet the irony was that such a ruler was precisely the man whom Israel rejected, as chapter 8 will show. Political unrest may mirror inadequate or oppressive leadership; on the other hand, it may well demonstrate the fatal flaws in human nature. Exactly the same may be true of unrest within any human community, including a local congregation." [Note: Payne, p. 39.]

Samuel’s personal faithfulness to God qualified him for spiritual leadership and resulted in God blessing Israel. He was God’s man, calling the people back to faithful obedience to His will so they could experience His blessing.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 7:17". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/1-samuel-7.html. 2012.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And his return was to Ramah,.... When he had gone his circuit, he came back to this city, which was his native place, and where his father and mother had dwelt, see 1 Samuel 1:1

for there was his house; and his father's house before him, and perhaps the same, 1 Samuel 1:19 and there he judged Israel; here was his fixed residence, and here he was always to be met with, except when on his circuit; and hither the people of Israel might come from all parts, to have justice done them between man and man, or receive information in matters of difficulty and importance:

and there he built an altar unto the Lord: to offer his own sacrifices, and the sacrifices of the people, either by himself, or by a priest, when the people came to have justice administered to them; or to desire him to pray for them, teach and instruct them, or to give them advice. Shiloh being destroyed, and no place appointed for the tabernacle and altar, the Jews say, high places for a private altar were lawful, and even for one that was not a priest to offer; these things, though settled by law, yet were for a time dispensed with, until things could be fixed in their proper place and order.

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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on 1 Samuel 7:17". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/1-samuel-7.html. 1999.

Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary on the Bible

The Defeat of the Philistines. B. C. 1092.

      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.   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.   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.

      We have here a short account of the further good services that Samuel did to Israel. Having parted them from their idols, and brought them home to their God, he had put them into a capacity of receiving further benefits by his ministry. Having prevailed in that, he becomes, in other instances, a great blessing to them; yet, writing it himself, he is brief in the relation. We are not told here, but it appears (2 Chronicles 35:18) that in the days of Samuel the prophet the people of Israel kept the ordinance of the passover with more than ordinary devotion, notwithstanding the distance of the ark and the desolations of Shiloh. Many good offices, no doubt, he did for Israel, but here we are only told how instrumental he was, 1. In securing the public peace (1 Samuel 7:13; 1 Samuel 7:13): "In his days the Philistines came no more into the coast of Israel, made no inroads or incursions upon them; they perceived that God now fought for Israel and that his hand was against the Philistines, and this kept them in awe, and restrained the remainder of their wrath." Samuel was a protector and deliverer to Israel, not by dint of sword, as Gideon, nor by strength of arm, as Samson, but by the power of prayer to God and carrying on a work of reformation among the people. Religion and piety are the best securities of a nation. 2. In recovering the public rights, 1 Samuel 7:14; 1 Samuel 7:14. By his influence Israel had the courage to demand the cities which the Philistines had unjustly taken from them and had long detained; and the Philistines, not daring to contend with one that had so great an interest in heaven, tamely yielded to the demand, and restored (some think) even Ekron and Gath, two of the capital cities, though afterwards they retook them; others think some small towns that lay between Ekron and Gath, which were forced out of the Philistines' hands. This they got by their reformation and religion, they got ground of their enemies and got forward in their affairs. It is added, There was peace between Israel and the Amorites, that is, the Canaanites, the remains of the natives. Not that Israel made any league with them, but they were quiet, and not so mischievous to Israel as they had sometimes been. Thus when a man's ways please the Lord he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him and give him no disturbance, Proverbs 16:7. 3. In administering public justice (1 Samuel 7:15; 1 Samuel 7:16): He judged Israel; as a prophet he taught them their duty and reproved them for their sins, which is called judging,Ezekiel 20:4; Ezekiel 22:2. Moses judged Israel when he made them know the statutes of God and his laws (Exodus 18:16); and thus Samuel judged them to the last, even after Saul was made king; so he promised them then, when Saul was inaugurated (1 Samuel 12:23; 1 Samuel 12:23), I will not cease to teach you the good and the right way. As a magistrate, he received appeals from the inferior courts and gave judgment upon them, tried causes and determined them, tried prisoners and acquitted or condemned them, according to the law. This he did all his days, till he grew old and past service, and resigned to Saul; and afterwards he exercised authority when application was made to him; nay, he judged even Agag, and Saul himself. But when he was in his prime he rode the circuit, for the convenience of the country, at least of that part of it which lay most under his influence. He kept courts at Beth-el, Gilgal, and Mizpeh, all in the tribe of Benjamin; but his constant residence was at Ramah, his father's city, and there he judged Israel, thither they resorted to him from all parts with their complaints, 1 Samuel 7:17. 4. In keeping up the public exercises of religion; for there, where he lived, he built an altar to the Lord, not in contempt of the altar that was at Nob, or Gibeon, or wherever the tabernacle was; but divine justice having laid Shiloh waste, and no other place being yet chosen for them to bring their offerings to (Deuteronomy 12:11), he looked upon the law which confined them to one place to be for the present suspended, and therefore, being a prophet, and under divine direction, he did as the patriarchs did, he built an altar where he lived, both for the use of his own family and for the good of the country that resorted to it. Great men should use their wealth, power, and interest, for the keeping up of religion in the places where they live.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Bibliographical Information
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on 1 Samuel 7:17". "Matthew Henry Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/1-samuel-7.html. 1706.