1 Samuel 7:4
Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only.
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(4) Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth.—The answer of the people showed how well and thoroughly the prophet-statesman had done his Master’s work. Through the land of Israel the graven images of the Phœnician idols were thrown down, and their impious worship everywhere was boldly dishonoured, and once more, in bold defiance of the idol-worshipping Philistines, the Invisible and Eternal was throughout the land acknowledged as the one God. These acts, of course, were an open act of rebellion against that warlike people who for so long had ruled them with an iron rule.

1 Samuel 7:4-5. Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim, &c. — Samuel’s reproofs and instructions, and the representations he made of their sin and danger, touched their hearts, and induced them to break off their sins by repentance. Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you — He could have prayed for them himself alone in private, but he knew it would tend to perfect the repentance and reformation begun among them, and to establish them in God’s service, to engage them to unite with him in that duty; and it was well worth while for them to come from the most distant part of the country to join with Samuel in seeking God’s favour. Doubtless Samuel prayed both that they might, by the grace of God, be separated from their idols, and then, by the providence of God, delivered from the Philistines.

7:1-4 God will find a resting-place for his ark; if some thrust it from them, the hearts of others shall be inclined to receive it. It is no new thing for God's ark to be in a private house. Christ and his apostles preached from house to house, when they could not have public places. Twenty years passed before the house of Israel cared for the want of the ark. During this time the prophet Samuel laboured to revive true religion. The few words used are very expressive; and this was one of the most effectual revivals of religion which ever took place in Israel.Compare the marginal references. Twenty years of Samuel's life had passed away since the last mention of him 1 Samuel 4:1. Now he appears in the threefold character of prophet, Judge, and the acknowledged leader of the whole people. His words were an answer to a profession of repentance on the part of Israel, the practical proof of which would be the putting away all their false gods. (Compare Judges 6:10 note.)

Will pray for you ... - So Moses prayed for the people at Rephidim Exodus 17:11-12; and for Miriam Numbers 12:13; so Elijah prayed at Carmel 1 Kings 18:36, 1 Kings 18:42; so Ezra prayed at the evening sacrifice Ezra 9:5; so the High Priest prayed for the house of Israel on the Day of Atonement; and so does our Lord Jesus Christ ever live at God's right hand to make intercession for us.

1Sa 7:3-6. The Israelites, through Samuel's Influence, Solemnly Repent at Mizpeh.

3-6. Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel—A great national reformation was effected through the influence of Samuel. Disgusted with their foreign servitude, and panting for the restoration of liberty and independence, they were open to salutary impressions; and convinced of their errors, they renounced idolatry. The re-establishment of the faith of their fathers was inaugurated at a great public meeting, held at Mizpeh in Judah, and hallowed by the observance of impressive religious solemnities. The drawing water, and pouring it out before the Lord, seems to have been a symbolical act by which, in the people's name, Samuel testified their sense of national corruption, their need of that moral purification of which water is the emblem, and their sincere desire to pour out their hearts in repentance before God.

No text from Poole on this verse.

Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth,.... Both their male and female deities, of which see Judges 2:13.

and served the Lord Only; Dr. Lightfoot (i) observes, that a spirit of repentance and conversion came generally upon all the people; a matter and a time as remarkable as almost any we read of in Scripture, one only parallel to it; and that is in Acts, chapters two and three, at the great conversion there.

(i) Works, vol. 1. p. 54.

Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only.
Verse 4. - Then the children of Israel did put away [the] Baalim and [the] Ashtaroth. This must have been done by a public act, by which at some time previously arranged the images of their Baals and Astartes were torn from their shrines, thrown down, and broken in pieces. Of course this was an overt act of rebellion, for these deities were especially Phoenician idols, and subsequently it was the Phoenician Jezebel who tried so fanatically to introduce their worship into Israel in Ahab's time. To cast off the Philistine deities was equivalent to a rebellion generally against Philistine supremacy. Baal and Astarte, the husband and the wife, represented the reproductive powers of nature, and under various names were worshipped throughout the East, and usually with lewd and wanton orgies. 1 Samuel 7:4Purification of Israel from idolatry. - Twenty years passed away from that time forward, while the ark remained at Kirjath-jearim, and all Israel mourned after Jehovah. Then Samuel said to them, "If ye turn to the Lord with all your heart, put away the strange gods from the midst of you, and the Astartes, and direct your heart firmly upon the Lord, and serve Him only, that He may save you out of the hand of the Philistines." And the Israelites listened to this appeal. The single clauses of 1 Samuel 7:2 and 1 Samuel 7:3 are connected together by vav consec., and are not to be separated from one another. There is no gap between these verses; but they contain the same closely and logically connected thought,

(Note: There is no force at all in the proofs which Thenius has adduced of a gap between 1 Samuel 7:2 and 1 Samuel 7:3. It by no means follows, that because the Philistines had brought back the ark, their rule over the Israelites had ceased, so as to make the words "he will deliver you," etc., incomprehensible. Moreover, the appearance of Samuel as judge does not presuppose that his assumption of this office must necessarily have been mentioned before. As a general rule, there was no such formal assumption of the office, and this would be least of all the case with Samuel, who had been recognised as an accredited prophet of Jehovah (1 Samuel 3:19.). And lastly, the reference to idols, and to their being put away in consequence of Samuel's appeal, is intelligible enough, without any express account of their falling into idolatry, if we bear in mind, on the one hand, the constant inclination of the people to serve other gods, and if we observe, on the other hand, that Samuel called upon the people to turn to the Lord with all their heart and serve Him alone, which not only does not preclude, but actually implies, the outward continuance of the worship of Jehovah.)

which may be arranged in one period in the following manner: "And it came to pass, when the days multiplied from the time that the ark remained at Kirjath-jearim, and grew to twenty years, and the whole house of Israel mourned after Jehovah, that Samuel said," etc. The verbs ויּרבּוּ, ויּהיוּ, and ויּנּהוּ, are merely continuations of the infinitive שׁבת, and the main sentence is resumed in the words שׁמוּאל ויּאמר. The contents of the verses require that the clauses should be combined in this manner. The statement that twenty years had passed can only be understood on the supposition that some kind of turning-point ensued at the close of that time. The complaining of the people after Jehovah was no such turning-point, but became one simply from the fact that this complaining was followed by some result. This result is described in 1 Samuel 7:3. It consisted in the fact that Samuel exhorted the people to put away the strange gods (1 Samuel 7:3); and that when the people listened to his exhortation (1 Samuel 7:4), he helped them to gain a victory over the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:5.). ינּהוּ, from נהה, to lament or complain (Micah 2:4; Ezekiel 32:18). "The phrase, to lament after God, is taken from human affairs, when one person follows another with earnest solicitations and complaints, until he at length assents. We have an example of this in the Syrophenician woman in Matthew 15." (Seb. Schmidt). The meaning "to assemble together," which is the one adopted by Gesenius, is forced upon the word from the Chaldee אתנהי, and it cannot be shown that the word was ever used in this sense in Hebrew. Samuel's appeal in 1 Samuel 7:3 recalls to mind Joshua 24:14, and Genesis 35:2; but the words, "If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts," assume that the turning of the people to the Lord their God had already inwardly commenced, and indeed, as the participle שׁבים expresses duration, had commenced as a permanent thing, and simply demand that the inward turning of the heart to God should be manifested outwardly as well, by the putting away of all their idols, and should thus be carried out to completion. The "strange gods" (see Genesis 35:2) are described in 1 Samuel 7:4 as "Baalim." On Baalim and Ashtaroth, see at Judges 2:11, Judges 2:13. לב הכין, to direct the heart firmly: see Psalm 78:8; 2 Chronicles 30:19.

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