1 Samuel 7

1 SAMUEL CHAPTER 7

        • The men of Kiriath-jearim came and took the ark of Yahweh to Abinadab’s house on the hill. They consecrated his son, Eleazar, to take care of the ark of Yahweh. The ark stayed at Kiriath-jearim a long time- 20 years in all- while all the people of Israel mourned after Yahweh.

          • ESV Archaeology Study Bible notes, “From Beth-shemesh, Kiriath-jearim was about 10 miles up the Sorek Valley toward Jerusalem. It held a strategic location, situated on a hill at the juncture of the boundaries of Judah, Dan, and Benjamin.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “Twenty years covers the time until Samuel assembled the people at Mizpah (7:5-6). David later brought the Ark to Jerusalem (2 Sam 6:1-19).”

Samuel Judges Israel

        • Samuel said to all of the Israelites, “If you are really turning to Yahweh will all of your heart, then get rid of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you. Direct your heart to Yahweh, serve only Him, and He will rescue you from the hand of the Philistines.” So the Israelites got rid of their Baals and Ashtoreths and served Yahweh alone.

          • Guzik notes, “God raised up Samuel as a prophet and a judge (1 Samuel 4:1). Yet Samuel was strangely absent from the whole Ark of the Covenant fiasco. 1 Samuel 4:1 is the last place Samuel was mentioned, right before Israel schemed to use the ark as a good luck charm in battle.”

            • NIV Cultural Backgrounds gives a quick reminder on the Baals and Ashtoreths, “…Occurring as a divine title more than 70 times in the OT, baal usually refers to the storm/weather god, who in the Canaanite mythological literature goes by the name Hadad, as well as several other titles…’Rider of the Clouds’…The present plural form, ‘the Baals,’ does not refer to a multiplicity of gods, but to numerous manifestations of the one weather-god, on whose blessing the fertility of the land was thought to depend…The Ashtoreths refers to the deity Astarte, who was worshiped widely as the goddess of love and war. This deity was identified in Ebla as Ashtar and in Mesopotamia as Ishtar. Although in Ugaritic mythological literature Anath usually functions as Baal’s consort, Astarte also appears as his spouse, which agrees with the broader ancient Near Eastern world reflected in the OT…Together these two gods formed a powerful force in ancient Near Eastern spirituality. Israel’s abandonment of Yahweh may be attributable to an inability to conceive of Yahweh as the God of this land where Baal and Astarte ruled with apparent effectiveness…

          • NLT Ilustrated Study Bible adds, “Worship of Canaanite deities was an ongoing problem throughout Israel’s history…The people started worshiping idols during the twenty-year period mentioned in 7:2, or perhaps they had done so ever since the days of the judges (8:8; Judg 6:25; cp Amos 5:25-26).”

        • Then Samuel said, “Assemble all of Israel at Mizpah and I will pray to Yahweh for you.” So they assembled at Mizpah, drew water and poured it out before Yahweh, fasted on that day, and confessed there, “We have sinned against Yahweh.” And Samuel began to judge the Israelites at Mizpah.

        • The mention of drawing water and pouring it out is quite interesting. The following commentaries make mention of it:

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible: “This type of ceremony is not mentioned elsewhere in the OT.”

          • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: “Although this apparently ritual act of pouring out water before the Lord (called a ‘libation’) is without specific parallel elsewhere in the OT, its association with fasting and confession in the present context suggests that at least in this instance it is meant to imply repentance and a desire to do serious business with God. Water (as well as beer and wine) libations are attested throughout the ancient Near East. Water libations in Syria-Canaan appear to have been offered as drink for the gods…For ancient Israel, however, such practices appear to have been emptied of their literal significance even while being retained as ritual features with symbolic significance.”

          • Gill’s Exposition on the Entire Bible: “Jerom (k) relates it as tradition of the Jews, that curses were cast into this water, as in the water of jealousy, and that idolaters were tried by it; and that whatever idolater, who denied he worshipped idols, and tasted of it, his lips so stuck together that they could not be separated, and by this means was known and put to death; and therefore it is said Samuel judged now at this place: but it should be observed, this water was not drank, but poured out; and that as a token of their humiliation, as Jarchi, that they were before the Lord, as water poured out; and of the sincerity of their repentance, as the Targum, which is,”they poured out their heart in repentance, as water;”and of the atonement and expiation of their sins, which passed away as water to be remembered no more, as Kimchi, or rather signifying hereby that they thoroughly renounced idolatry, that nothing of it should remain; as water entirely poured out, there remains not so much as any smell of it in the cask, as does of honey or oil, or such kind of liquor; for what a learned writer (l) says, that this was in token of joy, like that at the feast of tabernacles, when they drew water out of the fountain of Siloah, seems not so agreeable, since this was a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer, as follows: and fasted on that day, and said there, we have sinned against the Lord; Samuel prayed in public for them, with whom they joined; and they fasted in a literal sense, abstaining from food, and made a confession of their sins…”

          • Barnes Notes on the Bible: “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.”

          • As you can see, commentators are not exactly sure what to make of it. Some suggest it could be related to a later Jewish practice that was adopted in their Feast of Tabernacles observance (a practice that was not specifically instructed by God to be a part of the observance). However, this doesn’t exactly fit either because the practice was joyful in the context of the Feast of Tabernacles observance and here is the opposite.

        • When the Philistines heard that the Israelites had assembled at Mizpah, their rulers went up against Israel. And when the Israelites heard about this, they were afraid of the Philistines. The Israelites said to Samuel, “Don’t stop crying out to Yahweh our God for us so that He will save us from the hand of the Philistines.”

          • Guzik writes, “The last time Israel was in this kind of situation they said, “Let’s get the Ark of the Covenant and take it into battle with us. Then we can’t lose!” Now they are much wiser before the LORD, and instead of trusting in the ark they did the right thing and asked Samuel to cry out to the LORD our God for us.”

        • Samuel took a nursing lamb and sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to Yahweh. He cried out to Yahweh for Israel and Yahweh answered him. As Samuel was offering the burnt offering, the Philistines arrived to attack Israel. But Yahweh thundered with a loud noise that day against the Philistines, threw them into confusion, and Israel defeated them. The Israelite men charged out of Mizpah and chased the Philistines, striking them down all the way to a point below Beth-car.

          • Guzik says, “God fought from heaven on behalf of Israel and defeated the Philistines. This was a special work of God because the Israelites heard the same thunder, but only the Philistines became so confused… that they were overcome. God not only sent thunder, He also sent confusion to the Philistines and confidence to Israel. This was the kind of victory Israel hoped for in 1 Samuel 4 when they brought the Ark of the Covenant into battle. If they had only repented and sought the LORD as they did here, they could have had this kind of victory long ago.”

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “God often used similar tactics to throw Israel’s enemies into confusion and defeat them (e.g. Exod 14:24; 23:27; Josh 10:10; Judg 4:15).”

        • Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer saying, “Up to this point, Yahweh has helped us.”

        • NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible notes, “The use of (often inscribed) boundary stones was widespread throughout the ancient Near East. The stones were sometimes named and were believed to be under divine protection. Curses against those who might move them were sometimes included in the inscription.”

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “The location of this stone memorial is unknown. The Philistines had defeated Israel and captured the Ark at a place with the same name (4:1; 5:1). Samuel erected this memorial to commemorate God’s help in turning the tide against the Philistine attacks.”

        • So, the Philistines were subdued and didn’t invade Israel’s territory again. Yahweh’s hand was against the Philistines throughout Samuel’s life. The cities the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored, from Ekron to Gath, and the Israelites also delivered their surrounding territories from Philistine control. There was also peace between Israel and the Amorites.

        • HCSB clarifies, “During the period of Samuel’s active tenure as a judge of Israel there are no more recorded conflicts between Israel and the Philistines. That is the context for this statement, although the Philistines and Israelites fought against each other many times after the days of Samuel (13:5; 14:11-14; 17:1; 23:1, 27; 28:1; 31:1; 2 Sam 5:17-20; 2 Kg 18:8). There is no contradiction in the record on this point.”

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “The Amorites had inhabited Canaan and the region east of the Jordan before Israel’s conquest of the Promised Land (see Gen 15:16; Deut 3:8; Josh 2:10). Some Amorites remained in the area after the conquest (see 2 Sam 21:2).”

        • Samuel judged Israel throughout his life. Each year he went on a circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, judging Israel at all these places. Then he would return to his home in Ramah, judging Israel there also. He built an altar to Yahweh there.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “Once Saul became king (ch 10), Samuel’s role was more judicial than military.”

        • Guzik adds, “Samuel was used of God all his days. Some judges ended their ministry early or in disgrace, but Samuel finished well.”