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The ark remains at Kirjath - jearim twenty years, ver. 1, 2.
Samuel reforms Israel from idolatry, and judges Israel, ver. 3 - 6.
The Philistines come up against Israel, are overthrown,
and restore the cities they had taken, ver. 7 - 14.
Samuel administers justice thro' all the land, ver. 15 - 17.
1: Fetch up - That is, by the priests appointed to that work.
Hill - This place they chose, both because it was a strong place, where it
would be the most safe; and an high place, and therefore visible at some
distance, which was convenient for them, who were at that time to direct
their prayers and faces towards the ark. And for the same reason David
afterwards placed it in the hill of Sion. Sanctified Eleazar - Not
that they made him either Levite or Priest; for in Israel
persons were not made but born such; but they devoted, or set him apart
wholly to attend upon this work. His son - Him they chose rather than
his father, because he was younger and stronger, and probably freed from
domestic cares, which might divert him from, or disturb him in this work.
To keep the ark - To keep the place where it was, clean, and to guard it
that none might touch it, but such as God allowed to do so.
2: Kirjath - jearim - Where it continued, and was not carried to
Shiloh its former place, either because that place was destroyed by the
Philistines when the ark was taken, or because God would hereby punish
the wickedness of the people of Israel, by keeping it in a private place
near the Philistines, whether the generality of the people durst not
come. Twenty years - He saith not, that this twenty years was all the
time of the ark's abode there, for it continued there from Eli's time
'till David's reign, (2Sa 6:2), which was forty years: but that it
was so long there before the Israelites were sensible of their sin and
misery. Lamented - That is, they followed after God with lamentations for
his departure, and prayers for his return.
3: Spake - To all the rulers and people too, as he had occasion in
his circuit, described below, mixing exhortation to repentance, with his
judicial administrations. If - If you do indeed what you profess, if you
are resolved to go on in that which you seem to have begun. With all
your heart - Sincerely and in good earnest. Put - Out of your houses,
where some of you keep them; and out of your hearts, where they still have
an interest in many of you. Ashtaroth - And especially, Ashtaroth,
whom they, together with the neighbouring nations, did more eminently
worship. Prepare your hearts - By purging them from all sin, and
particularly from all inclinations to other gods.
6: 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
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. Judged - That is,
governed them, reformed all abuses against God or man, took care that the
laws of God should be observed, and wilful transgressions punished.
7: Went up - With an army, suspecting the effects of their general
convention, and intending to nip them in the bud. Afraid - Being a
company of unarmed persons, and unfit for battle. When sinners begin
to repent and reform, they must expect Satan will muster all his forces
against them, and set his instruments at work to the uttermost, to oppose
and discourage them.
8: Cease not, &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 is it to
all believers, that he never ceaseth, but always appears in the presence
of God for us.
9: Cried - And he cried unto the Lord. He made intercession with
the sacrifice. So Christ intercedes in virtue of his satisfaction. And in
all our prayers we must have an eye to his great oblation, depending on him
for audience and acceptance.
12: A stone - A rude unpolished stone, which was not prohibited by
that law, (Le 26:1), there being no danger of worshipping such a stone,
and this being set up only as a monument of the victory. Eben - ezer - That
is, the stone of help. And this victory was gained in the very same
place where the Israelites received their former fatal loss.
Helped us - He hath begun to help us, though not compleatly to deliver us.
By which wary expression, he exciteth both their thankfulness for their
mercy received, and their holy fear and care to please and serve the Lord,
that he might help and deliver them effectually.
13: Came no more - That is, with a great host, but only with
straggling parties, or garrisons. All the days, &c. - All the days
of Samuel that is, while Samuel was their sole judge, or ruler; for
in Saul's time they did come.
14: Peace - An agreement for the cessation of all acts of hostility.
Amorites - That is, the Canaanites, often called Amorites, because
these were formerly the most valiant of all those nations, and the first
Enemies which the Israelites met with, when they went to take possession
of their land. They made this peace with the Canaanites, that they
might he more at leisure to oppose the Philistines, now their most
15: Samuel judged - For though Saul was king in Samuel's last
days, yet Samuel did not cease to be a judge, being so made by God's
extraordinary call, which Saul could not destroy; and therefore
Samuel did sometimes, upon great occasions, tho' not ordinarily,
exercise the office of judge after the beginning of Saul's reign;
and the years of the rule of Saul and Samuel are joined together,(Ac 13:20,21).
16: In all places - He went to those several places, in compliance
with the people, whose convenience he was willing to purchase with his own
trouble, as an itinerant judge and preacher; and by his presence in several
parts, he could the better observe, and rectify all sorts of miscarriages.
17: Built an altar - That by joining sacrifices with his prayers,
he might the better obtain direction and assistance from God upon all
emergencies. And this was done by prophetical inspiration, as appears
by God's acceptance of the sacrifices offered upon it. Indeed Shiloh
being now laid waste, and no other place yet appointed for them to bring
their offerings to, the law which obliged them to one place, was for the
present suspended. Therefore, as the patriarchs did, he built an altar
where he lived: and that not only for the use of his own family, but for
the good of the country who resorted to it.