Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
And the men of Kirjathjearim came, and fetched up the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD.
1Sa 7:1, 2. The Ark at Kirjath-jearim.
1. the men of Kirjath-jearim—"the city of woods," also Kirjath-baal (Jos 15:60; 18:14; 1Ch 13:5, 6). It was the nearest town to Beth-shemesh and stood on a hill. This was the reason of the message (1Sa 6:21), and why this was chosen for the convenience of people turning their faces to the ark (1Ki 8:29-35; Ps 28:2; Da 6:10).
brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill—Why it was not transported at once to Shiloh where the tabernacle and sacred vessels were remaining, is difficult to conjecture.
sanctified … his son—He was not a Levite, and was therefore only set apart or appointed to be keeper of the place.
And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.
2. the ark abode in Kirjath-jearim … twenty years—It appears, in the subsequent history, that a much longer period elapsed before its final removal from Kirjath-jearim (2Sa 6:1-19; 1Ch 13:1-14). But that length of time had passed when the Israelites began to revive from their sad state of religious decline. The capture of the ark had produced a general indifference either as to its loss or its recovery.
all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord—They were then brought, doubtless by the influence of Samuel's exhortations, to renounce idolatry, and to return to the national worship of the true God.
And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.
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.
Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only.
And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD.
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.
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.
And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines.
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.
And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the LORD our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines.
And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the LORD: and Samuel cried unto the LORD for Israel; and the LORD heard him.
And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.
And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar.
Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.
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.
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.
And the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron even unto Gath; and the coasts thereof did Israel deliver out of the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.
And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.
And he went from year to year in circuit to Bethel, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places.
And his return was to Ramah; for there was his house; and there he judged Israel; and there he built an altar unto the LORD.