1 Samuel 4:20
And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said to her, Fear not; for you have born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it.
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1 Samuel 4:20. Fear not — Indeed, the sorrows of her travail would have been forgotten, for joy that a child was born into the world. But what is that joy to one that feels herself dying? None but spiritual joy will stand us instead then. Death admits not the relish of any earthly joy: it is then all flat and tasteless. What is it to one that is lamenting the loss of the ark? What can give us pleasure, if we want God’s word and ordinances? Especially if we want the comfort of his gracious presence, and the light of his countenance?4:19-22 The wife of Phinehas seems to have been a person of piety. Her dying regret was for the loss of the ark, and the departure of the glory from Israel. What is any earthly joy to her that feels herself dying? No joy but that which is spiritual and divine, will stand in any stead then; death is too serious a thing to admit the relish of any earthly joy. What is it to one that is lamenting the loss of the ark? What pleasure can we take in our creature comforts and enjoyments, if we want God's word and ordinances; especially if we want the comfort of his gracious presence, and the light of his countenance? If God go, the glory goes, and all good goes. Woe unto us if he depart! But though the glory is withdrawn from one sinful nation, city, or village after another, yet it shall never depart altogether, but shines forth in one place when eclipsed in another.A comparison of 2 Samuel 18:4, explains exactly the meaning of the "side of the gate," and Eli's position. His seat or throne, without a back, stood with the side against the jamb of the gate, leaving the passage through the gate quite clear, but placed so that every one passing through the gate must pass in front of him.

Forty years - This chronological note connects this book with that of Judges. (Compare Judges 3:11, etc.) It is an interesting question, but one very difficult to answer how near to the death of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the High Priest, Eli's forty years of judgeship bring him. It is probable that at least one high priesthood intervened.

13-18. Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside—The aged priest, as a public magistrate, used, in dispensing justice, to seat himself daily in a spacious recess at the entrance gate of the city. In his intense anxiety to learn the issue of the battle, he took up his usual place as the most convenient for meeting with passers-by. His seat was an official chair, similar to those of the ancient Egyptian judges, richly carved, superbly ornamented, high, and without a back. The calamities announced to Samuel as about to fall upon the family of Eli [1Sa 2:34] were now inflicted in the death of his two sons, and after his death, by that of his daughter-in-law, whose infant son received a name that perpetuated the fallen glory of the church and nation [1Sa 4:19-22]. The public disaster was completed by the capture of the ark. Poor Eli! He was a good man, in spite of his unhappy weaknesses. So strongly were his sensibilities enlisted on the side of religion, that the news of the capture of the ark proved to him a knell of death; and yet his overindulgence, or sad neglect of his family—the main cause of all the evils that led to its fall—has been recorded, as a beacon to warn all heads of Christian families against making shipwreck on the same rock. Being overwhelmed with sorrow, and so uncapable of comfort. And about the time of her death,.... Which quickly came on after she was brought to bed:

the women that stood by her; who were called to her labour, and assisted at it:

said unto her, fear not, for thou hast born a son; perceiving that she was very low spirited, endeavoured to cheer and comfort her, by observing to her that the worst was over; and besides she had brought forth a man child, which was usually matter of joy to a family, and particularly to the woman that bears it, which causes her to forget the sorrows and pains she has gone through in bearing it, John 16:21 but she answered not, neither did she regard it; said not one word in answer to them, nor was the least affected with joy and pleasure at what they related to her; being not only a dying woman, on the borders of another world, and so had no relish for temporal enjoyments, but also overcome with grief with what had happened, not only to her family, but more especially to the ark of God.

And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it.
20. Fear not] Cp. Genesis 35:16-19. But the attempt to comfort her was vain. The loss of the Ark so absorbed her mind, that even a mother’s greatest joy (John 16:21) could not rouse her.The tidings of this calamity were brought by a Benjaminite, who came as a messenger of evil tidings, with his clothes rent, and earth upon his head - a sign of the deepest mourning (see Joshua 7:6), - to Shiloh, where the aged Eli was sitting upon a seat by the side (יך is a copyist's error for יד) of the way watching; for his heart trembled for the ark of God, which had been taken from the sanctuary into the camp without the command of God. At these tidings the whole city cried out with terror, so that Eli heard the sound of the cry, and asked the reason of this loud noise (or tumult), whilst the messenger was hurrying towards him with the news.
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