1 Samuel 7 Study Notes


7:1 Eleazar was a common priestly name (Ex 6:23; 1Ch 9:20; 23:21; Ezr 8:33), and the verb consecrated also may hint at the family’s Levitical connection.

7:2 The verb translated longed for contains the connotation of mourning. Genuine heartfelt repentance seems to have arrived at last.

7:3 Samuel instructed the people to demonstrate the genuineness of their repentant words (the Hb word translated returning carries the idea of repentance) with action. Foreign gods certainly included Baal, chief of the Canaanite gods and a constant object of worship during Israel’s days of compromise (Jdg 2:11; 3:7). Ashtoreths were representations of Baal’s consort.

7:4 Removal of the Baals and the Ashtoreths must have required some time—though certainly not twenty years, the period of spiritual dormancy following the ark’s return (v. 2).

7:5 Samuel took an active role in confirming Israel’s rededication to God. Mizpah was located seven miles north of Jerusalem; during the judges period, the tribes had gathered there for intertribal war against Benjamin (Jdg 20:1). Some interpreters have identified the site with modern Nebi Samwil, approximately five miles northwest of Jerusalem. The site afforded Israel the opportunity to renew the covenant and to prepare for war with the Philistines.

7:6 The phrase drew water and poured it out is probably a symbolic allusion to the people’s hearts being poured out like water before the Lord (2Sm 14:14; Lm 2:19). The phrase Samuel judged the Israelites at Mizpah shows that he was acting more prominently than he had before.

7:7 The Philistines heard of Israel’s gathering and appear to have understood it as preparation for war because their rulers marched up toward Israel.

7:8 The Israelites’ impassioned request to Samuel reveals the level of trust they had in his spiritual leadership.

7:9 Samuel cried out to the Lord, who answered his prayer by bringing Israel deliverance.

7:10 The phrase as the Philistines approached suggests urgency; Samuel raced to offer the sacrifice as the enemy approached, knowing that God’s favor was essential for victory. The Lord . . . threw them into . . . confusion as he had done with his enemies in other battles (Ex 14:24; Jos 10:10). That they were defeated by Israel highlights the Philistines’ rout.

7:11 The exact site of Beth-car is unknown; the Israelites probably chased the Philistines back down the ridge route toward Philistine territory (v. 7).

7:12 The location of Shen (lit “The Tooth,” perhaps referring to some sharp crag or cliff) is unknown. Ebenezer (Hb, “Stone of Help”) marks the extent of the Israelite victory and is a different place from the site of Israel’s earlier encampment (4:1).

7:13 Samuel’s life as judge conformed to the principle in Jdg 2:18 (see R. P. Gordon).

7:14 Such cities as Ekron and Gath were open to attack because they lay along Israelite-Philistine border territory. Amorites probably denotes Canaanite remnant populations in the land.

7:15 Samuel judged Israel throughout his life, though his ministry seemed to decline somewhat (at his own initiative) following the appointment of Saul as Israel’s king (chap. 12).

7:16 The cities of Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah lay in the territory of Benjamin. Bethel’s location is identified with modern Ramallah north of Jerusalem. Gilgal sat in the Jordan Valley near Jericho and was Israel’s base camp during the days of Joshua’s conquest (Jos 4:19). On Mizpah, see note at 1Sm 7:5.

7:17 The name Ramah is preserved in the name el-Aram, an Arab village located on the site of ancient Ramah five miles north of Jerusalem. Samuel’s establishment of an altar to the Lord further suggests Shiloh had been destroyed. Deuteronomy 12:13-14 had warned against building local altars.