1 Samuel 4:9
Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight.
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(9) Be strong, . . . O ye Philistines . . .—The ring of these striking words—part of the same Philistine tradition of their splendid success—probably embodied in some well-known hymn of victory, was evidently in St. Paul’s mind when he wrote his stirring words of exhortation to his loved Corinthian Church, “Quit ye like men; be strong.”

1 Samuel 4:9. Be strong, and quit yourselves like men — When they were recovered out of the fright which had at first seized them, they considered that they had made the Israelites subject to them notwithstanding the power of their God, and had also overthrown them in a late battle. Probably the words of this verse were spoken by some of their commanders, or they spoke thus to encourage one another.

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.This is a remarkable testimony on the part of the Philistines to the truth of the events which are recorded in the Pentateuch. The Philistines would of course hear of them, just as Balak and the people of Jericho did Numbers 22:5; Joshua 2:10.

With all the plagues ... - Rather, "with every kind of plague" equivalent to "with utter destruction.

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. Quit yourselves like men; since you can expect no relief from your gods, who are not able to resist theirs, it concerns you to put forth all your strength and courage, and once for all to act like brave and valiant men.

Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines,.... Since this was all they had to depend upon, their manly courage; if they did not exert that it was all over with them; and seeing their case was desperate, having gods as well as men to fight with, it became them to exert themselves to the uttermost; which did they, there was a possibility still of gaining victory, and so immortal honour to themselves; these words seem to be spoken by the generals and officers of the army of the Philistines to the common soldiers:

that ye be not servants to the Hebrews, as they have been to you; that is, before and in the times of Samson; but it appears from hence that at this time neither the Philistines ruled over the Israelites, nor the Israelites over them; but as there was danger of their becoming subject to Israel, they had better die gloriously in the field of battle than to be in the base state of servitude:

quit yourselves like men, and fight; this is repeated to animate them to battle, which they supposed was not far off by the shoutings of the Israelites, and which they must prepare for.

Be strong and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight.
9. quit yourselves] i.e. behave. Cp. 1 Corinthians 16:13. “To quit oneself” = “to acquit oneself,” to release oneself from obligation by meeting the claims upon or expectations entertained of oneself. It is derived from Lat. quietare, through Fr. quitter. Cp. Milton, Samson Agonistes, 1709,

“Samson hath quit himself

Like Samson.”

servants] Tributary vassals. See Jdg 13:1. The Philistines appear to have had some Israelites as actual slaves (ch. 1 Samuel 14:21).

Verse 9. - Be strong. But, as is often the case, despair served only to nerve them to bitter determination. The greatness of the danger - for as heathen the Philistines fully believed that the ark would act as a charm - and the fearful alternative of being servants, i.e. slaves to those who not so very long ago had been slaves to them, made them resolve to do their very utmost. The result was a complete victory. 1 Samuel 4:9But instead of despairing, they encouraged one another, saying, "Show yourselves strong, and be men, O Philistines, that we may not be obliged to serve the Hebrews, as they have served you; be men, and fight!"
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