1 Samuel 7:13
So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.
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(13) So the Philistines were subdued.—The work of Samuel had been thorough. It was no mere solitary victory, this success of Israel at Ebenezer, but was the sign of a new spirit in Israel, which animated the nation during the lifetime of Samuel, and the reigns of David and Solomon and the great Hebrew kings. The petty jealousies had disappeared, and had given place to a great national desire for unity. In the several tribal districts it was no longer the glory and prosperity of Judah, Ephraim, or Benjamin, but the glory and prosperity of Israel that was aimed at. The old idol worship of Canaan, which corrupted and degraded every nationality which practised it, was in a great measure swept away from among the chosen people, while the pure religion of the Eternal of Hosts was no longer confided solely to the care and guardianship of the tribe of Levi, which had shown itself unworthy of the mighty trust. The Levites still ministered in the sanctuary, and when the Temple took its place, alone officiated in its sacred courts; and the chosen race of Aaron, in the family first of Ithamar, then of Eleazar, alone wore the jewels and the official robe of the high priest; but in religious matters the power of the priestly tribe was never again supreme in the Land of Promise. From the days of Samuel a new order—that of the Prophets, whose exact functions with regard to the ritual of the worship of the Eternal were undefined—was acknowledged by the people as the regular medium of communication with the Jewish King of Israel.

The hand of the Lord was against the Philistines.—The Philistines never entirely recovered their supremacy in Canaan. There was. it is true, a long fierce struggle, but with the exception of the short period which immediately preceded the election of Saul, and the temporary disasters of the children of Israel which were the punishments of that king’s disobedience—from this time forward the power of the Philistines gradually decayed. while the strength of Israel steadily increased, until King David completely subdued them, and the old oppressors of Israel were absorbed into the subject races of Canaan.

1 Samuel 7:13. Came no more — That is, with a great host, but only molested them with straggling parties, or garrisons. All the days of Samuel — That is, while Samuel was their sole judge, or ruler; for in Saul’s time they did come.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.All the days of Samuel - Not (as in 1 Samuel 7:15), all the days of his life, but all the days of his "government", when as Judge he ruled over Israel, before they asked for a king. 12. Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen—on an open spot between the town and "the crag" (some well-known rock in the neighborhood). A huge stone pillar was erected as a monument of their victory (Le 26:1). The name—Eben-ezer—is thought to have been written on the face of it. They came no more into the coast of Israel, i.e. they came not with a great host, as now they did, but only molested them with straggling parties, or garrisons; as 1 Samuel 10:5; and they came not, to wit,

all the days of Samuel, as it follows, i.e. while Samuel was their sole judge, or ruler; for in Saul’s time they did come, 1 Samuel 13:5,17 1 Samuel 14:52 17:1, &c. So the Philistines were subdued,.... Not that their country was conquered, or they made subject and become tributaries to Israel; but they were so humbled, as not to attempt to give the people of Israel any further trouble and distress, who were now delivered from their oppression and tyranny:

and came no more into the coast of Israel; at this time they did not gather together their forces dispersed, nor raise and bring a new army into the land of Israel; they contented themselves with placing garrisons on the coast, but did not attempt to enter and invade them any more; that is, for a long time, even until Samuel was grown old, and the people would have a king, and had one, which offended the Lord, and then he suffered them to be distressed by them again; but while Samuel was alone governor they came no more, though they did quickly after Saul was made king, as it follows:

the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel; not all the days of his life, but all the days of his sole government, which restrained them from making incursions into the land of Israel; and indeed in later times, when they did come forth to make war with them, the battle was against them during the times of Samuel.

So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.
13–17. Summary Account of Samuel’s Judgeship

13. So the Philistines were subdued] Cp. Jdg 3:30; Jdg 4:23-24. The word signifies “were brought low,” but does not imply complete subjugation. The forty years oppression (Jdg 13:1) now came to an end.

they came no more into the coast of Israel] The same phrase is used in 2 Kings 6:23, where the very next verse speaks of a fresh invasion. It is obvious therefore that the Hebrew historian could use the expression relatively and not absolutely, to describe a cessation of the Philistine inroads for the time being. How long it lasted we are not told, but

the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel] Yet we find the people groaning under the Philistine oppression (1 Samuel 9:16): a garrison or a tribute-collector stationed at Gibeah (1 Samuel 10:5, 1 Samuel 13:3): a general disarmament of the nation by the Philistines (1 Samuel 13:19): Hebrew slaves in the Philistine camp (1 Samuel 14:21): and three invasions of the land (1 Samuel 13:5, 1 Samuel 17:1, 1 Samuel 23:27): all during Samuel’s lifetime. We must then understand the statement in the text as either (a) “a general expression allowable in such a brief survey as is here given:” or (b) as referring only to the period of Samuel’s active judgeship. In the latter case we may conjecture that the Philistines re-established their ascendancy in his old age, in consequence of the weak and corrupt government of his sons.Verse 13. - So the Philistines were subdued. Not completely, for we find that they had garrisons in Israel when Saul was made king; but it was a thorough victory for the time, and was followed up, moreover, by an invasion of Philistia, in which Samuel recovered the towns which had been wrested from Israel upon the western borders of Judah and Benjamin. Moreover, the enemy came no more into the coast of Israel. That is, all invasions ceased. And the hand of Jehovah was against the philistines all the days of Samuel. This, of course, includes the reign of Saul, till within four years of his death; for Samuel continued to he prophet, and to a certain extent shophet, even when Saul was king. The words, moreover, imply a struggle, during which there was a gradual growth in strength on Israel's part, and a gradual enfeeblement on the part of the Philistines, until David completely vanquished them, though they appear again as powerful enemies in the days of King Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:16). It is certain, however, that fifteen or twenty years after this battle the Philistines were again in the ascendant (1 Samuel 13:19-23), and it was this which made the Israelites demand a king (1 Samuel 9:16). But it is the method of the Divine historians to include the ultimate results, however distant, in their account of an event (see on 1 Samuel 16:21; 17:55-58); and Israel's freedom and the final subjugation of the Philistines were both contained in Samuel's victory at Mizpah. When they had assembled together here, "they drew water and poured it out before Jehovah, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the Lord." Drawing water and pouring it out before Jehovah was a symbolical act, which has been thus correctly explained by the Chaldee, on the whole: "They poured out their heart like water in penitence before the Lord." This is evident from the figurative expressions, "poured out like water," in Psalm 22:15, and "pour out thy heart like water," in Lamentations 2:19, which are used to denote inward dissolution through pain, misery, and distress (see 2 Samuel 14:14). Hence the pouring out of water before God was a symbolical representation of the temporal and spiritual distress in which they were at the time, - a practical confession before God, "Behold, we are before Thee like water that has been poured out;" and as it was their own sin and rebellion against God that had brought this distress upon them, it was at the same time a confession of their misery, and an act of the deepest humiliation before the Lord. They gave a still further practical expression to this humiliation by fasting (צוּם), as a sign of their inward distress of mind on account of their sin, and an oral confession of their sin against the Lord. By the word שׁם, which is added to ויּאמרוּ, "they said "there," i.e., at Mizpeh, the oral confession of their sin is formally separated from the two symbolical acts of humiliation before God, though by this very separation it is practically placed on a par with them. What they did symbolically by the pouring out of water and fasting, they explained and confirmed by their verbal confession. שׁם is never an adverb of time signifying "then;" neither in Psalm 14:5; Psalm 132:17, nor Judges 5:11. "And thus Samuel judged the children of Israel at Mizpeh." ויּשׁפּט does not mean "he became judge" (Mich. and others), any more than "he punished every one according to his iniquity" (Thenius, after David Kimchi). Judging the people neither consisted in a censure pronounced by Samuel afterwards, nor in absolution granted to the penitent after they had made a confession of their sin, but in the fact that Samuel summoned the nation to Mizpeh to humble itself before Jehovah, and there secured for it, through his intercession, the forgiveness of its sin, and a renewal of the favour of its God, and thus restored the proper relation between Israel and its God, so that the Lord could proceed to vindicate His people's rights against their foes.

When the Philistines heard of the gathering of the Israelites at Mizpeh (1 Samuel 7:7, 1 Samuel 7:8), their princes went up against Israel to make war upon it; and the Israelites, in their fear of the Philistines, entreated Samuel, "Do not cease to cry for us to the Lord our God, that He may save us out of the hand of the Philistines." 1 Samuel 7:9. "And Samuel took a milk-lamb (a lamb that was still sucking, probably, according to Leviticus 22:27, a lamb seven days old), and offered it whole as a burnt-offering to the Lord." כּליל is used adverbially, according to its original meaning as an adverb, "whole." The Chaldee has not given the word at all, probably because the translators regarded it as pleonastic, since every burnt-offering was consumed upon the altar whole, and consequently the word כּליל was sometimes used in a substantive sense, as synonymous with עולה (Deuteronomy 33:10; Psalm 51:21). But in the passage before us, כּליל is not synonymous with עולה, but simply affirms that the lamb was offered upon the altar without being cut up or divided. Samuel selected a young lamb for the burnt-offering, not "as being the purest and most innocent kind of sacrificial animal," - for it cannot possibly be shown that very young animals were regarded as purer than those that were full-grown, - but as being the most suitable to represent the nation that had wakened up to new life through its conversion to the Lord, and was, as it were, new-born. For the burnt-offering represented the man, who consecrated therein his life and labour to the Lord. The sacrifice was the substratum for prayer. When Samuel offered it, he cried to the Lord for the children of Israel; and the Lord "answered," i.e., granted, his prayer.

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