|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.
Verse 17. - His return was to Ramah. We have seen that Elkanah was a large landholder there, and Samuel had now apparently succeeded to his father's place. And there he built an altar unto Jehovah. This old patriarchal custom (Genesis 12:7) long continued, and it was only gradually that local shrines and worship on high places were superseded by attendance upon the temple services at Jerusalem. At this time there was especial need for such altars. The established worship at Shiloh had been swept away, the town destroyed, the priests put to the sword, and the ark, though restored, was resting in a private dwelling. Probably Samuel had saved the sacred vessels, and much even of the tabernacle, but no mention of them is here made. We see, however, both in the erection of this altar and all through Samuel's life, that the Aaronic priesthood was in abeyance, and that he was not only prophet and judge, but also priest. In thus restoring the priesthood in his own person he was justified not merely by his powers as prophet, but by necessity. Gradually, with more prosperous times, matters returned to their regular channel; but even when Ahiah, the grandson of Eli, was with Saul (1 Samuel 14:3), he was employed not for the offering of sacrifice, but for divining with the Urim and Thummim. On a most important occasion the offering of sacrifice is spoken of as undoubtedly Samuel's right, and when he delayed his coming no mention is made of a priest, but Saul is said to have offered the victim himself (1 Samuel 13:9). It is plain, therefore, that we must not tie down the priesthood too tightly to the house of Aaron; for throughout there lies in the background the idea of a higher priesthood, and with this Samuel was invested, as being a type of him who is a Priest forever after the order of Melchisedek (comp. 1 Samuel 2:35).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire 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.
Wesley's Notes on the Bible
7:17 Built an altar - That by joining sacrifices with his prayers, he might the better obtain direction and assistance from God upon all emergencies. And this was done by prophetical inspiration, as appears by God's acceptance of the sacrifices offered upon it. Indeed Shiloh being now laid waste, and no other place yet appointed for them to bring their offerings to, the law which obliged them to one place, was for the present suspended. Therefore, as the patriarchs did, he built an altar where he lived: and that not only for the use of his own family, but for the good of the country who resorted to it.
1 Samuel 7:17 Parallel Commentaries
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