|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:13-17 In this great revival of true religion, the ark was neither removed to Shiloh, nor placed with the tabernacle any where else. This disregard to the Levitical institutions showed that their typical meaning formed their chief use; and when that was overlooked, they became a lifeless service, not to be compared with repentance, faith, and the love of God and man.
Verses 15, 16. - And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. As long as Samuel lived there was no clear]imitation of his powers as shophet compared with those of Saul as king. In putting Agag to death (1 Samuel 15:33) he even claimed a higher authority, and though he voluntarily left as a rule all civil and military matters to the king, yet he never actually resigned the supreme control, and on fitting occasions even exercised it. It was, however, practically within narrow limits that he personally exercised his functions as judge in settling the causes of the people; for Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh were all situated in the tribe of Benjamin. Both Bethel and Mizpah were holy spots, and so also, probably, was Gilgal; and therefore we may conclude that it was the famous sanctuary of that name (see 1 Samuel 11:14), and not the Gilgal mentioned, in 2 Kings 2:1; 2 Kings 4:38. For this latter, situated to the southwest of Shiloh, near the road to Jerusalem, had no religious importance, and would not, therefore, attract so many people to it as one that was frequented for sacrifice. Probably, too, it was upon the occasion of religious solemnities that Samuel visited these places, and heard the people's suits.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. Not only before Saul was made king, but afterwards; for though he had not the exercise of the supreme government of the nation, yet he might act as a judge under Saul, and hear and try causes brought before him, and execute justice and judgment; and as a prophet he taught and instructed the people, and reformed abuses among them; and besides, he held and exercised his extraordinary office, to which he was raised up of God, and even took upon him to reprove Saul himself, and to kill Agag. The Jews say (q) he judged Israel thirteen years only, eleven by himself, and two with Saul; but his government must be much larger, his with Saul is reckoned forty years, Acts 13:21.
(q) Seder Olam Rabba, c. 13. p. 35. Midrash Tillim apud Abarbinel in loc. Kimchi in loc.
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