1 Samuel 4:3
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, "Why did the LORD bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the LORD's covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies."

New Living Translation
After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, "Why did the LORD allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?" Then they said, "Let's bring the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it will save us from our enemies."

English Standard Version
And when the people came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD here from Shiloh, that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.”

Berean Study Bible
When the troops returned to the camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why has the LORD brought defeat on us before the Philistines today? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD from Shiloh, so that it may go with us to deliver us from the hand of our enemies.”

New American Standard Bible
When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, "Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies."

King James Bible
And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

Christian Standard Bible
When the troops returned to the camp, the elders of Israel asked, "Why did the LORD defeat us today before the Philistines? Let's bring the ark of the LORD's covenant from Shiloh. Then it will go with us and save us from our enemies."

Contemporary English Version
The Israelite army returned to their camp, and the leaders said, "Why did the LORD let us lose to the Philistines today? Let's get the sacred chest where the LORD's agreement with Israel is kept. Then the LORD will help us and rescue us from our enemies."

Good News Translation
When the survivors came back to camp, the leaders of Israel said, "Why did the LORD let the Philistines defeat us today? Let's go and bring the LORD's Covenant Box from Shiloh, so that he will go with us and save us from our enemies."

Holman Christian Standard Bible
When the troops returned to the camp, the elders of Israel asked, "Why did the LORD let us be defeated today by the Philistines? Let's bring the ark of the LORD's covenant from Shiloh. Then it will go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies."

International Standard Version
When the people came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, "Why did the LORD defeat us today when we fought the Philistines? Let's take the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD from Shiloh, so it may go with us and deliver us from the power of our enemies."

NET Bible
When the army came back to the camp, the elders of Israel said, "Why did the LORD let us be defeated today by the Philistines? Let's take with us the ark of the covenant of the LORD from Shiloh. When it is with us, it will save us from the hand of our enemies.

New Heart English Bible
When the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, "Why has the LORD struck us today before the Philistines? Let us get the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh to us, that it may come among us, and save us out of the hand of our enemies."

GOD'S WORD® Translation
When the troops came back to the camp, the leaders of Israel asked, "Why has the LORD used the Philistines to defeat us today? Let's get the ark of the LORD's promise from Shiloh so that he may be with us and save us from our enemies."

JPS Tanakh 1917
And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said: 'Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to-day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that He may come among us, and save us out of the hand of our enemies.'

New American Standard 1977
When the people came into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us take to ourselves from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of the LORD, that it may come among us and deliver us from the power of our enemies.”

Jubilee Bible 2000
And when the people returned into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Why has the LORD smitten us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us that when it comes among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

King James 2000 Bible
And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it comes among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

American King James Version
And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Why has the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh to us, that, when it comes among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

American Standard Version
And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath Jehovah smitten us to-day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of Jehovah out of Shiloh unto us, that it may come among us, and save us out of the hand of our enemies.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And the people returned to the camp: and the ancients of Israel said: Why hath the Lord defeated us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch unto us the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Silo, and let it come in the midst of us, that it may save us from the hand of our enemies.

Darby Bible Translation
And the people came into the camp; and the elders of Israel said, Why has Jehovah smitten us to-day before the Philistines? Let us fetch ourselves the ark of the covenant of Jehovah out of Shiloh, that it may come among us, and save us out of the hand of our enemies.

English Revised Version
And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us today before the Philistines? Let as fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that it may come among us, and save us out of the hand of our enemies.

Webster's Bible Translation
And when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Why hath the LORD smitten us to-day before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh to us, that when it cometh among us, it may save us from the hand of our enemies.

World English Bible
When the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, "Why has Yahweh struck us today before the Philistines? Let us get the ark of the covenant of Yahweh out of Shiloh to us, that it may come among us, and save us out of the hand of our enemies."

Young's Literal Translation
And the people cometh in unto the camp, and the elders of Israel say, 'Why hath Jehovah smitten us to-day before the Philistines? we take unto us from Shiloh the ark of the covenant of Jehovah, and it cometh into our midst, and He doth save us out of the hand of our enemies.'
Study Bible
The Philistines Capture the Ark
2The Philistines arrayed themselves against Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who struck down about four thousand men on the battlefield. 3When the troops returned to the camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why has the LORD brought defeat on us before the Philistines today? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD from Shiloh, so that it may go with us to deliver us from the hand of our enemies.” 4So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the LORD of Hosts, who sits enthroned between the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.…
Cross References
Numbers 10:35
Whenever the ark set out, Moses would say, "Rise up, O LORD! May Your enemies be scattered; may those who hate You flee before You."

Joshua 6:6
So Joshua son of Nun summoned the priests and said, "Take up the ark of the covenant and have seven priests carry seven trumpets in front of the ark of the LORD."

Joshua 7:7
"O, Lord GOD," Joshua said, "why did You ever bring these people across the Jordan to hand us over to the Amorites to be destroyed? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan!

Joshua 7:8
O Lord, what can I say, now that Israel has turned its back and run from its enemies?

1 Samuel 1:24
Once she had weaned him, Hannah took the boy with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. Though the boy was still young, she brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh.

1 Samuel 4:2
The Philistines arrayed themselves against Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who struck down about four thousand men on the battlefield.

Treasury of Scripture

And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Why has the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh to us, that, when it comes among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

Wherefore

Deuteronomy 29:24 Even all nations shall say, Why has the LORD done thus to this land? …

Psalm 74:1,11 O God, why have you cast us off for ever? why does your anger smoke …

Isaiah 50:1 Thus said the LORD, Where is the bill of your mother's divorce, whom …

Isaiah 58:3 Why have we fasted, say they, and you see not? why have we afflicted …

Let us

1 Samuel 14:18 And Saul said to Ahiah, Bring here the ark of God. For the ark of …

Numbers 31:6 And Moses sent them to the war, a thousand of every tribe, them and …

Joshua 6:4,5 And seven priests shall bear before the ark seven trumpets of rams' …

2 Samuel 15:25 And the king said to Zadok, Carry back the ark of God into the city: …

Isaiah 1:11-15 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to me? said the …

Jeremiah 7:4,8-15 Trust you not in lying words, saying, The temple of the LORD, The …

Matthew 3:9,10 And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: …

fetch [heb] take unto us
the ark

Numbers 10:33 And they departed from the mount of the LORD three days' journey…

Deuteronomy 31:26 Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the …

Joshua 4:7 Then you shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off …

1 Chronicles 17:1 Now it came to pass, as David sat in his house, that David said to …

Jeremiah 3:16 And it shall come to pass, when you be multiplied and increased in …

Hebrews 9:4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid …

it may save

Jeremiah 7:8-11 Behold, you trust in lying words, that cannot profit…

Amos 5:21,22 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn …

Matthew 23:25-28 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you make clean …

Romans 2:28,29 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, …

1 Corinthians 10:1-5 Moreover, brothers, I would not that you should be ignorant, how …

2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

1 Peter 3:21 The like figure whereunto even baptism does also now save us (not …

Jude 1:5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though you once knew this, …







(3) Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us?--The people and the elders who, as we have seen above, had undertaken the war of liberty at the instigation or the young man of God, amazed at their defeat, were puzzled to understand why God was evidently not in their midst; they showed by their next procedure how thoroughly they had gone astray from the old pure religion.

Let us fetch the ark of the covenant.--Whether or not Samuel acquiesced in this fatal proposition we have no information. It evidently did not emanate from him. but, as we are expressly told, from the "elders of the people." Probably the lesson of the first defeat had deeply impressed him, and he saw that a thorough reformation throughout the land was needed before the invisible King would again be present among the people.

It may save us.--It was a curious delusion, this baseless hope of the elders, that the unseen God was inseparably connected with that strange and beautiful symbol of His presence, with that coffer of perishable wood and metal overshadowed by the lifeless golden angels carved on the shining seat which closed this sacred Ark--that glittering mercy seat, as it was called, round which so many hallowed memories of the glory vision had gathered. Far on in the people's story, one of the greatest of Samuel's successors, Jeremiah, presses home the same truth the people were so slow in learning, when he passionately urges his Israel, "Trust ye not in lying words, saying The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these. For if ye thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, then will I cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that 1 gave to your fathers, for ever and ever" (Jeremiah 7:4-5; Jeremiah 7:7).

Wordsworth here, with great force, thus writes:--"Probably David remembered this history when, with a clearer faith, he refused to allow the Ark to be carried with him in his retreat before Absalom out of Jerusalem; and even when the priests had brought it forth, he commanded them to carry it back to its place, saying, 'If I shall find favour in the eyes of the Lord, He will bring me again, and show me both it and His habitation.' (2Samuel 15:25.)

"David, without the Ark visibly present, but with the unseen help of Him who was enthroned on the mercy-seat, triumphed, and was restored to Jerusalem; but Israel, with the Ark visibly present, but without the blessing of Him whose throne the Ark was, fell before their enemies, and were deprived of the sacred symbol, which was taken by the Philistines."

Verse 3. - When the people were come into the camp. Before the battle Israel had entrenched itself, so that upon its defeat it had a place capable of defence into which to retire. We find also that their communications were open, so that they could send to Shiloh. The army is called the people because battles were not fought in those days by men specially trained, but by all the inhabitants of the country of the proper age. The question, Wherefore hath Jehovah smitten us? expresses surprise. The elders had evidently expected victory, and therefore the domination of the Philistines could not have been so complete as it certainly was in the days of Samson. There must have been an intermediate period of successful warfare during which Eli had been their leader. Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of Jehovah. This, the remedy suggested by the elders, was to employ their God as a talisman or charm. The ark was the symbol of Jehovah's presence among them, and of their being his especial people, and by exposing it to danger they supposed that they would compel their God to interfere in their behalf. They would have done right in appealing to their covenant relation to Jehovah; and had they repented of the sins which had grown up among them, fostered by the evil example of Eli's sons, he would have shown them mercy. But for God to have given Israel the victory because of the presence of his ark in their camp would have been to overthrow all moral government, and would have insured their spiritual ruin as inevitably as would the granting to any order of men now the power of working miracles or of infallibly declaring the truth. And when the people came into the camp,.... At Ebenezer, where they pitched their tents, and from whence they went out to battle, and whither they returned after their defeat:

the elders of Israel said, wherefore hath the Lord smitten us today before the Philistines? they were right in ascribing it to the Lord, who had suffered them to be defeated by their enemies, but it is strange they should be so insensible of the cause of it; there was a reason ready at hand, their sins and iniquities were the cause of it, the corruption of manners among them, their neglect of bringing their offerings to the Lord, and the idolatry that many of them were guilty of, at least secretly, 1 Samuel 2:24 to punish them for which, they were brought into this war, and smitten in it; and yet they wonder at it, that so it should be, that they the people of God should be smitten before Heathens and uncircumcised Philistines; and the rather, since they went to battle with them according to the word of the Lord by Samuel; not considering that they went into this war without humiliation for their sins, and without praying to God for success, and that it was intended as a correction of them for their offences against God:

let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us; in which the law was, sometimes called the covenant between God and them; and which was a symbol of the divine Presence, for want of which they supposed they had not the presence of God with them, and so had not success; and the rather they were encouraged to take this step and method, because that formerly Israel had success against their enemies when the ark was with them, Numbers 31:6 though no doubt in this there was an overruling providence of God, by which they were led to take such a step as this, in order to bring the two sons of Eli into the camp, that they might be slain in one day, according to the divine prediction:

that when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies; foolishly placing their confidence in an external symbol, and not in the Lord himself; ascribing salvation to that, which only belongs to him, whether of a temporal or spiritual kind: and such folly and vanity are men guilty of when they seek to, make use of, and trust in anything short of Christ for salvation; as in carnal descent; in the rituals of the law; in the ordinances of the Gospel; in any religious exercises, private or public; or in any works of righteousness done by them: in Christ alone is salvation from spiritual enemies; and indeed from the Lord only is salvation and deliverance from temporal enemies. 3-9. Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us—Strange that they were so blind to the real cause of the disaster and that they did not discern, in the great and general corruption of religion and morals (1Sa 2:22-25; 7:3; Ps 78:58), the reason why the presence and aid of God were not extended to them. Their first measure for restoring the national spirit and energy ought to have been a complete reformation—a universal return to purity of worship and morals. But, instead of cherishing a spirit of deep humiliation and sincere repentance, instead of resolving on the abolition of existing abuses, and the re-establishing of the pure faith, they adopted what appeared an easier and speedier course—they put their trust in ceremonial observances, and doubted not but that the introduction of the ark into the battlefield would ensure their victory. In recommending this extraordinary step, the elders might recollect the confidence it imparted to their ancestors (Nu 10:35; 14:44), as well as what had been done at Jericho. But it is more probable that they were influenced by the heathenish ideas of their idolatrous neighbors, who carried their idol Dagon, or his sacred symbols, to their wars, believing that the power of their divinities was inseparably associated with, or residing in, their images. In short, the shout raised in the Hebrew camp, on the arrival of the ark, indicated very plainly the prevalence among the Israelites at this time of a belief in national deities—whose influence was local, and whose interest was especially exerted in behalf of the people who adored them. The joy of the Israelites was an emotion springing out of the same superstitious sentiments as the corresponding dismay of their enemies; and to afford them a convincing, though painful proof of their error, was the ulterior object of the discipline to which they were now subjected—a discipline by which God, while punishing them for their apostasy by allowing the capture of the ark, had another end in view—that of signally vindicating His supremacy over all the gods of the nations.4:1-9 Israel is smitten before the Philistines. Sin, the accursed thing, was in the camp, and gave their enemies all the advantage they could wish for. They own the hand of God in their trouble; but, instead of submitting, they speak angrily, as not aware of any just provocation they had given him. The foolishness of man perverts his way, and then his heart frets against the Lord, Pr 19:3, and finds fault with him. They supposed that they could oblige God to appear for them, by bringing the ark into their camp. Those who have gone back in the life of religion, sometimes discover great fondness for the outward observances of it, as if those would save them; and as if the ark, God's throne, in the camp, would bring them to heaven, though the world and the flesh are on the throne in the heart.
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