1 Samuel 7:8
And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry to the LORD our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.
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(8) Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us.—The fear on the part of Israel was very natural Unarmed—or, at least, very poorly armed and equipped—the assembled Israelites saw from the heights the advancing Philistine army. What hope was there for their ill-disciplined masses when they joined battle with that trained host of fighting men? But they remembered the days of old, and how, when Moses prayed, “the Angel of His presence” saved them. Had they not then with them there a seer equal to Moses, greater than Joshua, one with whom the Eternal of Hosts was wont to speak, as friend speaketh with friend? So in that supreme hour of danger they turned to Samuel the seer. We are just going, they said, all unarmed to meet that armed host; “cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us,” And Samuel, we read in the brief and graphic account before us, hurriedly—for the time was short, and the foe close at hand—and with rites somewhat different from those enjoined in the Law—for the occasion was indeed a critical one—offered up a sacrifice, and raised that weird piercing cry which many in Israel had heard before when Samuel the seer prayed; and while the prophet-statesman was sustaining that loud imploring cry, while the smoke of the slain lamb was still ascending, the first line of the Philistine army appeared on the topmost slope of Mizpeh. Once more, as in old days, the glorious Arm fought with no earthly weapons for the people; an awful thunderstorm burst over the combatant hosts, the storm probably beating in the faces of the advancing Philistines. The tribes welcomed it as the answer to their prophet’s prayer, and with a wild enthusiasm charged down and broke the serried ranks of their oppressors. Josephus tells us of an earthquake, which added fresh horrors to the scene of battle. Each crash of thunder, each wild and furious gust of hail and rain, the men of Israel welcomed as a fresh onslaught on the part of an unseen army fighting by their side. The dismayed Philistines fled, and the rout was complete; the defeated army hurried panic-stricken over the same ground in the neighbourhood of Aphek illustrious twenty years before for their signal victory. The scene of carnage now received the significant name of Eben-ezer, or The Stone of Help.

1 Samuel 7:8. Cease not to cry unto the Lord, &c. — We are afraid to look God in the face, because of our great wickedness: do thou therefore intercede for us, as Moses did for his generation. They had reason to expect this, because he had promised to pray for them, had promised them deliverance from the Philistines, and they had been observant of him, in all that he had spoken to them from the Lord. Thus they who receive Christ as their lawgiver and judge, need not doubt of their interest in his intercession. O what a comfort it is to all believers, that he never ceaseth, is never silent, but always appears in the presence of God for us.7:7-12 The Philistines invaded Israel. When sinners begin to repent and reform, they must expect that Satan will muster all his force against them, and set his instruments at work to the utmost, to oppose and discourage them. The Israelites earnestly beg Samuel to pray for them. Oh what a comfort it is to all believers, that our great Intercessor above never ceases, is never silent! for he always appears in the presence of God for us. Samuel's sacrifice, without his prayer, had been an empty shadow. God gave a gracious answer. And Samuel erected a memorial of this victory, to the glory of God, and to encourage Israel. Through successive generations, the church of God has had cause to set up Eben-ezers for renewed deliverances; neither outward persecutions nor inward corruptions have prevailed against her, because hitherto the Lord hath helped her: and he will help, even to the end of the world.This implies a united invasion by the whole Philistine force. Hence, the terror of the Israelites. (Compare Judges 15:11.) 1Sa 7:7-14. While Samuel Prays, the Philistines Are Discomfited.

7-11. when the Philistines heard, &c.—The character and importance of the national convention at Mizpeh were fully appreciated by the Philistines. They discerned in it the rising spirit of religious patriotism among the Israelites that was prepared to throw off the yoke of their domination. Anxious to crush it at the first, they made a sudden incursion while the Israelites were in the midst of their solemn celebration. Unprepared for resistance, they besought Samuel to supplicate the divine interposition to save them from their enemies. The prophet's prayers and sacrifice were answered by such a tremendous storm of thunder and lightning that the assailants, panic-struck, were disordered and fled. The Israelites, recognizing the hand of God, rushed courageously on the foe they had so much dreaded and committed such immense havoc, that the Philistines did not for long recover from this disastrous blow. This brilliant victory secured peace and independence to Israel for twenty years, as well as the restitution of the usurped territory.

We are ashamed and afraid to look God in the face, because of our great wickedness this day remembered and acknowledged; do thou therefore intercede for us, as Moses did for his generation. And the children of Israel said to Samuel,.... To whom they applied, not as the general of their forces, but as the prophet of the Lord; believing his prayers for them would be of more avail to them than an army of men ever so numerous, or so well accoutred:

cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us: he had been praying for them that day, and they desired he would continue praying for them, well knowing that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much; they knew their salvation was of the Lord, and that he only could save them, and that he must be sought unto for it; and as Samuel had an interest in him, they beg he would continue to make use of it on their behalf; in which they expressed their trust in God, their regard to means, the duty of prayer, and the high esteem they had of the prophet of the Lord, whom they entreat to pray for them:

that he will save us out of the hands of the Philistines; who were now coming up against them, and who had for a long time tyrannised over them.

And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to {e} cry unto the LORD our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.

(e) Signifying that in the prayers of the godly, there should be a vehement zeal.

Purification 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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