And the man said to Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)I fled to day out of the army.—The fatal battle had taken place very early that same morning. The utter rout, the awful slaughter, the death of Hophni and Phinehas, and the loss of the Ark of the Covenant, all this the messenger knew, and with this terrible news had hasted to the seat of the government—the now empty sanctuary.
The very words of the runner were remembered. The whole vivid scene was evidently related by a bystander—some have even suggested that it was Samuel who stood by Eli’s side.1 Samuel 3:2. The phrase seems to express the "fixed" state of the blind eye, which is not affected by the light. Eli's blindness, while it made him alive to sounds, prevented his seeing the ripped garments and dust-besprinkled head of the messenger of bad news. I am he that came out of the army; I speak not what I have by uncertain rumours, but what mine eyes were witnesses of.
and I fled today out of the army; so that as he was an eyewitness of what was done in the army, the account he brought was the earliest that could be had, in bringing which he had made great dispatch, having ran perhaps all the way:
and he said, what is there done, my son? has a battle been fought? on which side is the victory? is Israel beaten, or have they conquered? how do things go? he uses the kind and tender appellation, my son, to engage him to tell him all freely and openly.And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)16. I am he] He has to announce himself to the blind old man who cannot see the tale of disaster which his dust-soiled, blood-stained garments tell all too plainly to the people.
the army] Better, as in 1 Samuel 4:12, the battle-array.
What is there done] Lit., What was the affair? Vulg. quid actum est? David uses the same phrase to the Amalekite in 2 Samuel 1:4.Verses 16, 17. - What is there done, my son? Literally, What is the thing? Or, as the phrase is translated in 2 Samuel 1:4, "How went the matter?" Eli must have gathered from the words of the messenger that Israel had been defeated; for he expressly says, I fled, and his haste, as testified by the added words today, showed that the defeat was a severe one. Eli, therefore, anxiously asks what has happened, and the answer piles misery upon misery, rapidly heaping together four crushing catastrophes. For Israel had fled before the Philistines; there had been a great slaughter; among the slain were Eli's two sons; and, worst of all, the ark of God was taken. Joshua 22:8), and 30,000 men of Israel fell. The ark also was taken, and the two sons of Eli died, i.e., were slain when the ark was taken, - a practical proof to the degenerate nation, that Jehovah, who was enthroned above the cherubim, had departed from them, i.e., had withdrawn His gracious presence.
(Note: "It is just the same now, when we take merely a historical Christ outside us for our Redeemer. He must prove His help chiefly internally by His Holy Spirit, to redeem us out of the hand of the Philistines; though externally He must not be thrown into the shade, as accomplishing our justification. If we had not Christ, we could never stand. For there is no help in heaven and on earth beside Him. But if we have Him in no other way than merely without us and under us, if we only preach about Him, teach, hear, read, talk, discuss, and dispute about Him, take His name into our mouth, but will not let Him work and show His power in us, He will no more help us than the ark helped the Israelites." - Berleburger Bible.)
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