1 Samuel 7:6
And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and drew water, and poured it out before the LORD, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the LORD. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.—For some quarter of a century Samuel had been the principal personage among the people, and had, no doubt, long exercised the varied functions of the “judges” of Israel; but the tribes were scattered, their fortresses in the hand of enemies, there was scarcely any national life in that gloomy period in the people. In the first general assembly of the tribes the rank and position which Samuel had long really filled are publicly acknowledged.

1 Samuel 7:6. They drew water and poured it out — As an external sign, whereby they testified both their own filthiness and need of washing by the grace and Spirit of God, and the blood of the covenant, and their sincere desire to pour out their hearts before the Lord, in true repentance, and to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit. Before the Lord — That is, in the public assembly, where God is in a special manner present. Samuel judged — That is, governed them, reformed all abuses against God or man, took care that the laws of God should be observed, and wilfil transgressions punished.

7:5,6 Israel drew water and poured it out before the Lord; signifying their humiliation and sorrow for sin. They pour out their hearts in repentance before the Lord. They were free and full in their confession, and fixed in their resolution to cast away from them all their wrong doings. They made a public confession, We have sinned against the Lord; thus giving glory to God, and taking shame to themselves. And if we thus confess our sins, we shall find our God faithful and just to forgive us our sins.Two rites are brought together here which belong especially to the Feast of Tabernacles and the Day of Atonement, respectively, namely, drawing and pouring out water, and fasting. Hence, some think that Samuel chose the Feast of tabernacles, and the fast which preceded it, as the occasion for assembling the people. Others explain the pouring out water as the pouring out the heart in penitence as it were water; or, as a symbolic act expressing their ruin and helplessness 2 Samuel 14:14; or as typifying their desire that their sins might be forgotten "as waters that pass away" Job 11:16.

And Samuel judged - This seems to denote the "commencement" of Samuel's Judgeship civil and military, as having taken place at Mizpeh on this occasion. As civil Judge he did exactly what Moses did Exodus 18:13-16; as military Judge he did what Othniel, Ehud, Barak, and Gideon had done before him, organized and marshalled the people for effectual resistance to their oppressors, and led them out to victory.

6. Samuel judged … Israel in Mizpeh—At the time of Eli's death he could not have much exceeded twenty years of age; and although his character and position must have given him great influence, it does not appear that hitherto he had done more than prophets were wont to do. Now he entered on the duties of a civil magistrate. To Mizpeh; not that beyond Jordan, of which Judges 11:11,29; but another in Canaan, where the Israelites used to assemble, Judges 20:1 1 Samuel 10:17.

Drew water, and poured it out; which they did either,

1. Figuratively; they drew tears out of their hearts, and poured out of their eyes as it were rivers of water; such descriptions of penitential sorrow being not unusual. See Psalm 6:7 119:136 Jeremiah 19:1 Lamentations 3:48,49. Or rather,

2. Properly, because they are said first to draw it, and then to pour it out. And this agrees well with the state of those times, wherein such rites as this were very customary. Now this course they seem to have used, either,

1. As a mean or instrument of their purification. So they washed themselves in this water, thereby acknowledging their filthiness, and cleansing themselves as the law prescribed. But this seems not probable,

1. Because here is only mention of drawing and pouring forth this water before the Lord, but not of any washing themselves with it.

2. Because this was not a fit time and place to purify themselves in this great and general assembly. Or,

2. As an external sign, whereby they testified and professed both their own great filthiness and need of washing by the grace and Spirit of God, and blood of the covenant, which are oft signified by water, and their sincere desire to pour out their very hearts before the Lord in true repentance, and to cleanse themselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit.

Before the Lord, i.e. in the public assembly, where God is in a special manner present, as hath been noted before.

Samuel judged the children of Israel, i.e. governed them, reformed all abuses against God or man, took care that the laws of God should be observed and executed, and wilful transgressors punished.

And they gathered together to Mizpeh,.... Even all Israel, at least the heads of the people, and representatives of them:

and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord; drew it from some fountain near at hand, and poured it out as in the presence of God, who was where his people were met together. Jerom (k) relates it as tradition of the Jews, that curses were cast into this water, as in the water of jealousy, and that idolaters were tried by it; and that whatever idolater, who denied he worshipped idols, and tasted of it, his lips so stuck together that they could not be separated, and by this means was known and put to death; and therefore it is said Samuel judged now at this place: but it should be observed, this water was not drank, but poured out; and that as a token of their humiliation, as Jarchi, that they were before the Lord, as water poured out; and of the sincerity of their repentance, as the Targum, which is,"they poured out their heart in repentance, as water;''and of the atonement and expiation of their sins, which passed away as water to be remembered no more, as Kimchi, or rather signifying hereby that they thoroughly renounced idolatry, that nothing of it should remain; as water entirely poured out, there remains not so much as any smell of it in the cask, as does of honey or oil, or such kind of liquor; for what a learned writer (l) says, that this was in token of joy, like that at the feast of tabernacles, when they drew water out of the fountain of Siloah, seems not so agreeable, since this was a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer, as follows:

and fasted on that day, and said there, we have sinned against the Lord; Samuel prayed in public for them, with whom they joined; and they fasted in a literal sense, abstaining from food, and made a confession of their sins; this was the work of that day:

and Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh; not that he now began to judge them, but went on in a more public and vigorous manner to judge them; he sat, and heard, and tried causes that came before him; explained the laws of God to them, and enforced the obedience of them; reformed abuses that were among them, and punished idolaters.

(k) Trad. Heb. in lib. Reg. fol. 75. F. (l) L'Empereur, annot. in Misn. Middot, c. 2. sect. 5. No. 7.

And they gathered together to Mizpeh, and {d} drew water, and poured it out before the LORD, and fasted on that day, and said there, We have sinned against the LORD. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh.

(d) The Chaldee text says that they drew water out of their heart: that is, wept abundantly for their sins.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
6. and drew water, and poured it out before the Lord] A symbolical act which has no exact parallel in the O.T., but was probably significant of the outpouring of their hearts before Jehovah in penitence and supplication. Cp. ch. 1 Samuel 1:15; Psalm 62:8; Lamentations 2:19. The paraphrase of the Targum is, “And they poured out their heart in repentance before Jehovah.”

and fasted on that day] As on the great day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:9), in token of humiliation and contrition for their sin.

We have sinned against the Lord] They made a public confession. Cp. Jdg 10:10.

And Samuel judged, &c.] As prophet he effected the religions reformation, and then taking his place as the chief magistrate of the state, he provided for the civil and political reorganization of the people. That the assembly lasted some time is clear from 1 Samuel 7:7. The Philistines had time to muster their army before it dispersed.

Verse 6. - They... drew water, and poured it out before Jehovah. While the drawing of water was a joyful act (Isaiah 12:3; John 7:37, 38), as symbolising the winning from the depths below of the source of life and health, the pouring it out before Jehovah expressed sorrow for sin, and so it is explained by the Chaldee Paraphrast: "They poured out their heart in penitence like water before the Lord" (comp. Psalm 22:14). It might here also signify weakness and powerlessness, the being "as water spilt upon the ground, which cannot be gathered up again" (2 Samuel 14:14). They further expressed their sorrow by fasting, enjoined "for the afflicting of their souls" upon the great day of atonement (Leviticus 16:29, 31; Leviticus 23:27, 32; Numbers 29:7). And to these symbolical acts they joined the confession of the mouth, acknowledging that "they had sinned against Jehovah. And Samuel judged the children of Israel in Mizpeh. That is, he now became the acknowledged ruler of Israel in things temporal, both civil and military., as he had previously been in things spiritual by virtue of his office as prophet. This was, of course, the result of the decisive action he had taken in summoning this national convention; but the words strongly suggest that there was some direct appointment, or at the very least a national acknowledgment of Samuel's authority, especially as they precede the history of the defeat of the Philistines. He had summoned the people together as Nabi, prophet, and when he said, "I will pray for you unto Jehovah," there was the implied meaning that he would be with them only in that capacity. But when the time came to appoint a general, who would act under him as Barak had acted under Deborah, the great chiefs, probably, who saw in him the prime mover of all that was being done, urged him also to take the command,and upon his consent he became also Shophet or judge. ISRAEL'S DELIVERANCE FROM THE TYRANNY OF THE PHILISTINES (vers. 7-14). 1 Samuel 7:6When 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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