1 Samuel



by Ken Cayce



Ken Cayce All rights reserved.


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1 Samuel Explained





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Book of 1 Samuel Explained

Title: The books of Samuel were originally one book in the Hebrew Canon. The single volume of Samuel was divided into two by the translators of the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, who viewed Samuel and Kings together as the "Books of the Kingdoms."


The Book of Kings of the Hebrew Scriptures was likewise divided into two books, and the four books then constituted the "Books of the Kingdoms." Accordingly, 1 and 2 Samuel were called the First and Second Books of the Kingdoms in the Septuagint, and 1 and 2 Kings were termed the Third and Fourth Books of the Kingdoms. When the Old Testament was translated into the Latin Vulgate, the term "Books of the Kingdoms" was dropped and the present division of both Samuel and Kings became standard for the Western church. The books of Samuel bear the name of the principal character of its first portion.


Authorship - Date: The authorship of the two books of Samuel is unknown. According to Jewish tradition, Samuel had written the earlier portions of 1 Samuel, and his work had been supported by the prophets Nathan and Gad (1 Chron. 29:29). Because (1 Samuel 27:6), indicates that the division of the kingdom had already taken place, the final edited form of the two books must have taken place after the death of Solomon in 931 B.C. Whatever the origin of the earlier material, apparently some prophet, probably from Judah, put it into its final form early in the days of the divided monarchy.


But Samuel cannot be the writer because his death is recorded (in 1 Samuel 25:1), before the events associated with David's reign even took place. Further, Nathan and Gad were prophets of the Lord during David's lifetime and would not have been alive when the book of Samuel was written. Thought the written records of these 3 prophets could have been used for information (in the writing of 1 and 2 Samuel), the human author of these books is unknown. The work comes to the reader as an anonymous writing, i.e., the human author speaks for the Lord and gives the divine interpretation of the events narrated.


The books of Samuel contain no clear indication of the date of composition. That the author wrote after the division of the kingdom between Israel and Judah in 931 B.C. is clear, due to the many references to Israel and Judah as distinct entities (1 Sam. 11:8; 17:52; 18:16; 2 Sam. 5:5; 11:11; 12:8; 19:42-43; 24:1, 9). Also, the statement concerning Ziklag's belonging "to the kings of Judah to this day" (in 1 Sam. 27:6), gives clear evidence of a post-Solomonic date of writing. There is no such clarity concerning how late the date of writing could be. However, 1 and 2 Samuel are included in the Former Prophets in the Hebrew canon, along with Joshua, Judges, and 1 and 2 Kings. If the Former Prophets were composed as a unit, then Samuel would have been written during the Babylonian captivity (560-540 B.C.), since 2 Kings concludes during the exile (2 Kings 25:27-30). However, since Samuel has a different literary style than Kings, it was most likely penned before the Exile during the period of the divided kingdom (931-722 B.C.) and later made an integral part of the Former Prophets.


The books of Samuel have more than biographical and historical interest. The central theme of the books traces god's gracious and overruling sovereignty in the sad state of affairs in Israel at the end of the period of judges by His providential selection of righteous men (i.e., Samuel and David), who would weld the nation into an instrument of His will and a people for Himself. Despite Israel's rejection of God as King, He would prove faithful and eventually see to the appointment of a godly king, David. With this one He would enter into an everlasting covenant that would affect the destiny of both Israel and all the world. For through David would come Israel's King par excellence, Israel's Messiah and the Savior of the word, the Lord Jesus Christ.


Background - Setting: The majority of the action recorded (in 1 and 2 Samuel), took place in and around the central highlands in the land of Israel. The nation of Israel was largely concentrated in an area that ran about 90 miles from the hill country of Ephraim in the north (1 Sam. 1:1; 9:4), to the hill country of Judah in the south (Joshua 20:7; 21:11), and between 15 to 35 miles east to west. This central spine ranges in height from 1,500 feet to 3,300 feet above sea level. The major cities of 1 and 2 Samuel are to be found in these central highlands: Shiloh, the residence of Eli and the tabernacle; Ramah, the hometown of Samuel; Gibeah, the headquarters of Saul; Bethlehem, the birthplace of David; Hebron, David's capital when he ruled over Judah; and Jerusalem, the ultimate "city of David."


The events of 1 and 2 Samuel took place between the years 1105 B.C., the birth of Samuel (1 Sam. 1:1-28), to 971 B.C., the last words of David (2 Samuel 23:1-7). Thus, the books span about 135 years of history. During those years, Israel was transformed from a loosely knit group of tribes under "judges" to a united nation under the reign of a centralized monarchy. They look primarily at Samuel (1105-1030 B.C.), Saul who reigned (in 1052-1011 B.C.), and David who was king of the united monarchy (1011-971 B.C.).


Historical - Theological: The narrative in 1 Samuel is centered around Israel's last judge, Samuel, who also served the Lord as priest and prophet. The books of Samuel go on to sketch Israel's cry for a king and the resultant selection of Saul as its first king. The failure of Saul, and the growing contest between Saul and David which was resolved with the establishment of the Davidic Kingdom. The period covers nearly a century of Israelite history (1064 - 971 B.C.), tracing the fortunes of Israel from the depths of apostasy and political fragmentation in the closing era of the judges up to the growing triumphs of the united monarchy. In God's providence, the possibility for Israel's increasing grandeur lay in the collapse of the power of Egypt during its Twentieth and Twenty-first dynasties, the disappearance of the once-mighty Hittite Empire by the onset of the twelfth century B.C., and the declining strength of the Assyrian and Babylonian nations in Mesopotamia. Events in Israel for the next several centuries would also be affected by the presence of numerous small but active Aramean kingdoms on Israel's northern boundaries. Even Israel's clamor for a king was somewhat conditioned by the regal fashion of the age.


As 1 Samuel begins, Israel was at a low point spiritually. The priesthood was corrupt (1 Samuel 2:12-17; 22-26), the Ark of the Covenant was not at the tabernacle (1 Sam. 4:3-7:2), idolatry was practiced (1 Sam. 7:3-4), and the judges were dishonest (1 Sam. 8:2-3). Through the influence of godly Samuel (1 Sam. 12:23), and David (1 Sam. 13:14), these conditions were reversed. Second Samuel concludes with the anger of the Lord being withdrawn from Israel (2 Sam. 24:25).


During the years narrated (in 1 and 2 Samuel), the great empires of the ancient world were in a state of weakness. Neither Egypt nor the Mesopotamian powers, Babylon and Assyrian, were threats to Israel at that time. The two nations most hostile to the Israelites were the Philistines (1 Sam. 4; 7; 13; 14; 17; 23; 2 Sam. 5), to the west and the Ammonites (1 Samuel 11; 2 Samuel 10-12), to the east. The major contingent of the Philistines had migrated from the Aegean Islands and Asia Minor in the 12 th century B.C. After being denied access to Egypt, they settled among other preexisting Philistines along the Mediterranean coast of Palestine. The Philistines controlled the use of iron, which gave them a decided military and economic advantage over Israel (1 Sam. 13:19-22). The Ammonites were descendants of Lot (Gen. 19:38), who lived on the Transjordan Plateau. David conquered the Philistines (2 Sam. 8:1), and the Ammonites (2 Sam. 12:29-31), along with other nations that surrounded Israel (2 Sam. 8:2-14).


Themes: There are four predominate theological themes (in 1 and 2 Samuel). The first is the Davidic Covenant. The books are literally framed by two references to the "anointed" king in the prayer of Hannah (1 Sam. 2:10), and the song of David (2 Sam. 22:51). This is a reference to the Messiah, the King who will triumph over the nations who are opposed to God (see Gen. 49:4-12; Num. 24:7-9; 17-19). According to the Lord's promise, this Messiah will come through the line of David and establish David's throne forever (2 Sam. 7:12-16). The events of David's life recorded in Samuel foreshadow the actions of David's greater Son (i.e., Christ), in the future.


A second theme is the sovereignty of God, clearly seen in these books. One example is the birth of Samuel in response to Hannah's prayer (1 Sam. 9:17; 16:12-13). Also, in relation to David, it is particularly evident that nothing can frustrate God's plan to have him rule over Israel (1 Sam. 24:20).


Third, the work of the Holy Spirit in empowering men for divinely appointed tasks is evident. The Spirit of the Lord came upon both Saul and David after their anointing as king (1 Sam. 10:10; 16:13). The power of the Holy Spirit brought forth prophecy (1 Sam. 10:6), and victory in battle (1 Sam. 11:6).


Fourth, the books of Samuel demonstrate the personal and national effects of sin. The sins of Eli and his sons resulted in their deaths (1 Sam. 2:12-17; 22:25; 3:10-14; 4:17-18). The lack of reverence for the Ark of the Covenant led to the death of a number of Israelites (1 Sam. 6:19; 2 Sam. 6:6-7). Saul's disobedience resulted in the Lord's judgment, and he was rejected as king over Israel (1 Sam. 13:9; 13-14; 15:8-9; 20-23). Although David was forgiven for his sin of adultery and murder after his confession (2 Sam. 12:13), he still suffered the inevitable and devastating consequences of his sin (2 Sam. 12:14).





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1 Samuel 1 1 Samuel 12 1 Samuel 23
1 Samuel 2 1 Samuel 13 1 Samuel 24
1 Samuel 3 1 Samuel 14 1 Samuel 25
1 Samuel 4 1 Samuel 15 1 Samuel 26
1 Samuel 5 1 Samuel 16 1 Samuel 27
1 Samuel 6 1 Samuel 17 1 Samuel 28
1 Samuel 7 1 Samuel 18 1 Samuel 29
1 Samuel 8 1 Samuel 19 1 Samuel 30
1 Samuel 9 1 Samuel 20 1 Samuel 31
1 Samuel 10 1 Samuel 21  
1 Samuel 11 1 Samuel 22  


1 Samuel 1



1 Samuel Chapter 1

The books of first and second Samuel were originally thought of as one book. It is unknown who penned the books of Samuel. Perhaps, Samuel, himself penned some of it. The main theme of the study is Israel wanting a king like all the other nations around them. This was displeasing to God, but He allowed it. In this book, we will see the prayers of a mother for a son. Samuel is a product of prayer. He was dedicated to God, before his birth, and lived his entire life in the service of God. The three main characters of the book are Samuel, Saul and David. The name "Samuel" means heard of God, or asked of God.


1:1 - 7:17: This first major division of the book begins and ends in Samuel's home town of Ramah. The focus of these chapters is on the life and ministry of Samuel.


(1 Samuel 1:1 - 4:1a), concentrates on Samuel as a prophet of the Lord (see the concluding statement of 4:1a), "the word of Samuel came to all Israel".


The text (in 4:1b - 7:17), emphasizes Samuel as judge (see 7:17), "there he judged Israel".


1 Samuel 1:1 "Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim-zophim, of mount Ephraim, and his name [was] Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephrathite:"


Some have suggested a contradiction between the tribal background of Samuel as given here and that presented (in 1 Chronicles 6:25), where Samuel's father is said to be a descendant of the priestly family of Kohath. Actually, this verse stresses Elkanah's residence among the Ephraimites, without calling particular attention to his Levitical descent. Variations between the names of the lineage of Samuel presented here (and in 1 Chronicles 6:25 and 1 Chronicles 6:33-35), are simply matters of spelling conventions, "Ramathaim-zophim" is a longer name for the city of Ramah (verse 12), which belonged to the descendants of "Zuph".


"A certain man": This verse resembles the introduction to the birth of Samson in Judges 13:2). The strong comparison highlights similarities between Samson and Samuel: Both men were judges over Israel, fighters of the Philistines, and lifelong Nazirites.


Ramathaim-zophim": Possibly meaning "two heights," the name occurs only here in the Old Testament. Elsewhere, the town is simply called Ramah. It was located about 5 miles north of Jerusalem.


"Elkanah": Meaning "God has created," was the father of Samuel.


"Zuph" is both a place (9:5), and a personal name (1 Chron. 6:35), as here.


"Ephraimite": (1 Chron. 6:27), identifies Elkanah as a member of the Kohathite branch of the tribe of Levi. The Levites lived among the other tribes (Joshua 21:20-22). Ephraim was the tribal area where this Levite lived.


Samuel was of the tribe of Levi. It will not be stressed that he is a Levite, because of the miracle way he became a prophet, seer, and judge. There are just a few in the Bible that this type of thing happened to. One other in the Old Testament was Samson, and one in the New Testament was John the Baptist. They were all servants of God from birth.


Samuel is the same name as Shemuel. "Elkanah" means whom God possess. Elkanah is a common name among the Kohathites. Perhaps, this was because they were to serve the LORD all the days of their lives.


Ramathaim-zophim is the same place as Ramah, where Samuel lived. Zophim was the name of the district, and Ramah was the central city. Elkanah was their leader. This was an inheritance of Ephraim. It had first been allotted to Benjamin, but was at the time of this writing of Ephraim.


1 Samuel 1:2 "And he had two wives; the name of the one [was] Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children."


Although he was a priest, Elkanah had a second wife because "Hannah" was barren (Deut. 21:15-17). Multiple marriages were also allowed in the case of levirate marriage (Deut. 25:5-10; compare the note on Ruth 3:9).


"Two wives": Although polygamy was not God's intention for mankind (Gen. 2:24), it was tolerated, but never endorsed in Israel (see Deut. 21:15-17). Elkanah probably married Peninnah because Hannah was barren. '


"Hannah": Meaning "grace," she was Elkanah's first wife.


"Peninnah": Meaning "ruby," she was Elkanah's second wife and the first bearer of his children.


Elkanah was a very wealthy, influential man. "Hannah" means grace, or prayer. She was the favorite of Elkanah, even though she had no children. "Peninnah" means coral, or red pearl. It was legal for men to have two wives, but it generally did not work out very well. In nearly every case, there was extreme jealousy between the women. God really did not intend for the dual marriage to be allowed. (They two are to become one flesh).


1 Samuel 1:3 "And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the LORD of hosts in Shiloh. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the LORD, [were] there."


"This man went up ... yearly": All Israelite men were required to attend 3 annual feasts at the central sanctuary (Deut. 16:1-17). Elkanah regularly attended these festivals with his wives. The festival referred to here was probably the Feast of Tabernacles (Sept./Oct.) because of the feasting mentioned (in 1:9).


"Shiloh" was the location of the tabernacle and thus the religious center of Israel at this time. Israelite men sojourned there three times a year for Passover, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Tabernacles (Exodus 34:23).


"Lord of Hosts", a military term that occurs about 260 more times in the Old Testament, stresses that the Lord is the ultimate Leader of Israel's armies (17:45). It also underscores His universal sovereignty over all nations (Isa. 37:16), and over all creation (Amos 4:13). Thus, the term encompasses His universal rule over all forces whether in heaven or on earth, and anticipates His eventual subjugation of all those who oppose Him (Isa. 24:21-23; 34:1-10).


This is the first Old Testament occurrence of "hosts" being added to the divine name. "Hosts" can refer to human armies (Ex. 7:4), celestial bodies (Deut. 4:19), or heavenly creatures (Joshua 5:14). This title emphasizes the Lord as sovereign over all of the powers in heaven and on earth, especially over the armies of Israel.


"Shiloh" had served as the resting place of the tabernacle, hence was the religious center of Israel since the time of the conquest (Joshua 18:1). The Ark of the Covenant rested there until its capture by the Philistines (4:3-11). Shiloh was about 20 miles north of Jerusalem.


"Eli" was a descendant of Ithamar, the fourth son of Aaron, who was the high priest in Shiloh when Samuel was born. For the first time in Israel, Eli embodied the functions of high priest and judge, judging Israel for 40 years (4:18). He was a deeply pious man whose service to the Lord was unblemished.


However, he was a lax father who could not control his two sons, Phinehas and Hophni. They were both priests who took meat from sacrificial animals before they were dedicated to God and "lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation" (1 Sam. 2:22). God killed these two sons. When Eli heard the news he fell backward and broke his neck. God's final judgment against Eli and his descendants occurred when Solomon removed Eli's descendant Abiathar as high priest, and replace him with Zadok (1 Kings 2:35).


Each of Eli's two priestly sons had an Egyptian name: Hophni ("tadpole") and Phinehas ("Nubian").


This is speaking of Elkanah going once a year to Shiloh (where the ark was), to worship. We remember, they were supposed to go three times a year, but many of them had reduced this to the one time in the year. We know that Elkanah was a religious man and was even from the Levitical tribe. He probably went up at Passover, because it was the most important of the three Feasts.


Eli was the judge for 40 years and was also, high priest. It appears, his sons were acting priests in the tabernacle. "Eli" means my God.


1 Samuel 1:4 "And when the time was that Elkanah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions:"


"He gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions": Parts of the offering, everyone a part, or portion; by which it appears, that this was a peace offering he offered, the greater part of which belonged to the owner, and which he made a feast of for his family and friends (see Deut. 12:5).


A peace offering since the worshipers ate a portion of the offering (see Lev. 7:11-18).


1 Samuel 1:5 "But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb."


"The Lord has shut up her womb": Hannah's barrenness was the result of divine providence like Sarah's (Gen. 16:2), and Rachel's (Gen. 30:2).


We know that the family ate the Passover lamb, so this makes it seem even more like this is the feast they have gone to celebrate. The "worthy portion" is speaking of Hannah getting twice as much. It appears that Hannah was the favorite of Elkanah.


1 Samuel 1:6 "And her adversary also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the LORD had shut up her womb."


"Her adversary": The other wife was an adversary.


"Provoked her": Literally "to thunder against" her (see 2:10 for the same word).


In ancient Israel, children were not only crucial (carriers of the family line, heirs to the family's land, caretakers of their elderly or widowed parents), they were symbols of God's blessing. Elkanah gave Hannah a double portion (1:4-5), to make up for her barrenness and the ridicule she bore.


The adversary of all of us is the devil. In this case, the devil was stirring up jealousy between the two wives. Hannah was jealous because of Peninnah's children. Peninnah was jealous, because Elkanah loved Hannah the most. Hebrew women felt that they were cursed of God, if they did not have children.


1 Samuel 1:7 "And [as] he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the LORD, so she provoked her; therefore she wept, and did not eat."


"Did not eat": Hannah fasted because of the provocation of Peninnah. She did not eat of the peace offerings.


It seems the hurt that Hannah felt had been going on for several years. It seemed also, the family being together at Passover just made it worse. Peninnah, probably, was saying ugly things to Hannah about her being barren. Hannah was so heartsick about not having children that she wept, and refused to eat. Peninnah tried to provoke her too.


1 Samuel 1:8 "Then said Elkanah her husband to her, Hannah, why weepest thou? and why eatest thou not? and why is thy heart grieved? [am] not I better to thee than ten sons?"


"Why is thy heart grieved": The idiom used reflects anger, not sadness (see Deut. 15:10 for the same idiom).


Personal tragedy so colored Hannah's perspective that she would lose sight of the beauty and grace already present in her life.


It seemed that, Elkanah truly loved Hannah. He was concerned that she was upset.


1 Samuel 1:9 "So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the LORD."


"Temple": Actually the tabernacle. The mention of sleeping quarters (3:2-3), and doors (3:15), implies that at this time the tabernacle was part of a larger, more permanent building complex.


This does not mean that Hannah drank and ate. It is speaking of the rest of the family eating and drinking. Hannah is in the sanctuary. Eli the high priest, is in the tabernacle at this time. This "post" is speaking of the entrance to the holy place. Eli was sitting on something like a throne. He was there, so all who worshipped walked before him.



Verses 10-11: The best place to go when one feels hopeless and bitter "of soul" is before God (Psalm 62:8; Phil. 4:6-7; 1 Pet. 5:7). All parents should start at the throne of God in prayer and offer up their children to Him.


1 Samuel 1:10 "And she [was] in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore."


"And prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore": Her prayer was with strong crying and tears; it was very fervent and affectionate; she prayed most vehemently, and wept bitterly. This perhaps was about the time of the evening sacrifice, about three or four o'clock in the afternoon; seeing it was after dinner that she arose up and went to prayer in the house of God, at the door of the tabernacle, or near it, as it should seem by the notice Eli took of her, who sat there.


This is another way of saying that her heart was broken. It appears she was kneeling and praying to the LORD. This prayer was coming from her innermost being.


1 Samuel 1:11 "And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head."


"Vow": Hannah pledged to give the Lord her son in return for God's favor in giving her that son. A married woman's vow could be confirmed or nullified by her husband (according to Num. 30:6-15). Her vow was a serious one (Eccl. 5:4-5). Her pledge was that if God would grant her a son, he would be consecrated as a Nazarite for service to the "Lord" for his entire life. (See the note on Judges 13:5).


"Thine handmaid": A humble, submissive way of referring to herself in the presence of her superior, sovereign God.


"Remember me": Hannah requested special attention and care from the Lord.


"All the days of his life": A contrast to the normal Nazirite vow, which was only for a specified period to time (See Num. 30:6-15.


"No razor": Though not specified as such in this chapter, the Nazirite vow is certainly presupposed. The not shaving of the hair on one's head is one of the three requirements of the vow (Num. 6:5). This expression was used elsewhere only of the Nazirite Samson (Judges 13:5; 16:17).


The three times she speaks of herself as the LORD's handmaid, shows her willingness to serve the LORD. She vows to God, if He will let her have a man child (to take away her reproach), she will dedicate him to the LORD's service all of His life. We do not read here, that she promises for him to be under a Nazarite vow. She does, however, promise that she will never cut his hair, which is one sign of a Nazarite vow. He will be ordained from birth to the service of the LORD.


1 Samuel 1:12 "And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her mouth."


Being very earnest and importunate with him to grant her request, and therefore repeated her petition, and prolonged her prayer, being unwilling to let the Lord go, until she had a promise, or some satisfaction, that she should have the thing she liked.


"That Eli marked her mouth": Observed the motion of her lips, and no doubt her distorted countenance, and uplifted eyes and hands, but chiefly the former; not knowing what the woman was at, and what could be the meaning of such motions.


It appears that, Hannah was praying in her heart, and very softly. So softly that Eli marked her mouth. He did not see her lips moving in prayer, but when he touched her, he realized they were moving. It seemed it was the custom to pray aloud, not just to God. He, now, realizes that she is saying something under her breath.


1 Samuel 1:13 "Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken."


"Drunken": Public prayer in Israel was usually audible. However, Hannah was praying silently, leaving Eli to surmise that she was drunk.


When he does not hear the words of her mouth, he thinks the worst. He assumes she has had too much to drink.


1 Samuel 1:14 "And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee."


What, every day drunk? What, continually in this wicked practice? When will it be stopped? for Eli might have observed on other days, and at other times, odd looks, and a strange behavior in her, which he took for the effects of drinking too much wine: or how long will this drunken fit last? She had been a considerable time as he thought in it, and it was not gone off yet.


"Put away thy wine from thee": Not as if she had any with her there to drink of, but he advises her, since it had such an effect upon her, to abstain from it, and wholly disuse it, and so break off such an habit and custom she had got into; or he would have her go home and sleep it off, and wait till she had digested it, and the strength of it was gone, before she came to such a place of devotion and worship.


He is telling her to stop drinking, and especially in the tabernacle. He wants her to go home and sober up, then come back and pray.


1 Samuel 1:15 "And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I [am] a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD."


That is not my case, you have greatly mistaken it; she answered with great mildness and meekness. "I am a women" in whom drunkenness is most abominable; so that the Romans punished it with death; therefore, judge me not so severely.


"Of a sorrowful spirit": And therefore, not likely to give up myself to drink and jollity, and far from that merry temper which drunkards have: I am drunk with affliction, not with wine, as is said (Isa. 51:21).


"I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink": to wit: this day (see 1 Sam. 1:7-8).


"Have poured out my soul": Have been breathing forth the grief, and perplexities, and desires of my soul (the like phrase in Job 30:16; Psalm 62:8 142:2).


She quickly tells him, that she has not been drinking. She is praying to God, because her heart is broken. She did not intend for others to hear her request to God. She had prayed her heart's desire to the LORD alone. She is sad, because she is barren.


1 Samuel 1:16 "Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto."


The term "daughter of Belial" means a worthless or wicked woman. (2:12; see the note on Judges 19:22).


We see that Hannah associates women who are drunk with someone controlled of the devil. "Belial" in this particular instance, means worthlessness.


1 Samuel 1:17 "Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant [thee] thy petition that thou hast asked of him."


He found he was mistaken in her, and that her discourse was not only sober and rational, but religious and spiritual; and therefore, dismisses her in peace. And bids her not distress herself with what he had said to her, nor with anything she had met with from others, or from the Lord; but expect peace and prosperity. And particularly success in what she had been engaged, and had been solicitous for.


"And the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him": Which may be considered either as a prayer for her, he joining with her in a request to the Lord; that what she had asked might be granted. Or as a prophecy that so it would be, it being revealed to him by the Holy Ghost, as the high priest of the Lord. Or impressed by an impulse upon his spirit that the favor asked would be given. And therefore, she might go home in peace, and with satisfaction of mind.


This is tremendous encouragement to Hannah. The high priest is speaking for God, when he says this to Hannah. The high priest represented the people to God and God to the people. This is telling Hannah, that she will indeed have a son.


1 Samuel 1:18 "And she said, Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight. So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more [sad]."


In other words, Hannah's reply to his loving farewell asked the old man to think kindly of her, and to pray for her with his mighty power of prayer.


"Did eat, and her countenance was no more sad": A beautiful example of the composing influence of prayer. "Hannah had cast her burden upon the Lord, and so her own spirit was relieved of its load. She now returned to the family feast, and ate her portion with a cheerful heart."


Hannah needs to fast no longer. God has answered her prayer. Her confidence that her prayer is answered is shown in her now eating. She is happy. She is going to have a son.


1 Samuel 1:19 "And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her."


While "Elkanah" was the child's biological father, Hannah understood Samuel to be a gift from the Lord.


"The Lord remembered" means that God acted on her behalf in answer to her prayer; He did not forget her (Gen. 21:1; 30:22).


They worshipped the LORD, before they set out on their journey home. As soon as they were home, Hannah slept with Elkanah and she conceived. God had answered her prayer. She is assured she will have a man child.


1 Samuel 1:20 "Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, [saying], Because I have asked him of the LORD."


"Samuel": The name literally meant "name of God, or "Offspring of God", but sounded like "heard by God." For Hannah, the assonance was most important, because God had heard her prayer.


Samuel was the earliest of the great Hebrew prophets (after Moses), and the last judge of Israel. Samuel is recognized as one of the greatest leaders of Israel (Jer. 15:1; Heb. 11:32). He first served with Eli the priest. Here Samuel heard the voice of God, calling him especially, to serve as a priest and prophet in Israel (3:1-20). After Eli's death, Samuel became the judge of Israel (Chapter 7).


Samuel led his people against their Philistine oppressors. When he was an old man, Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of Israel and later anointed David as Saul's successor. Although dead, Samuel appeared to Saul after Saul had gone to the witch of En-dor (chapter 28). Even from the grave, Samuel still spoke the Word of God to Saul: "The Lord is departed from thee, and is become thine enemy" (28:16).


We spoke earlier that "Samuel" means asked of God or heard of God. Hannah is totally aware this son is a gift from God. She knows he is the answer to her prayer.


1 Samuel 1:21 "And the man Elkanah, and all his house, went up to offer unto the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and his vow."


"His vow": Elkanah supported and joined with his wife in her vow to the Lord. With the birth of Samuel, he brought his concentrated offering to the Lord (Lev. 7:16).



Verses 22-28: Children were normally "weaned" by the age of three. The child that the Lord gave to Hannah, she gave to Him ("lent to the Lord"), in return, fulfilling her vow (in 1:11). In every way, Samuel would be dedicated to the Lord and His service (Luke 2:22).


1 Samuel 1:22 "But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband, [I will not go up] until the child be weaned, and [then] I will bring him, that he may appear before the LORD, and there abide for ever."


"Weaned": As was customary in the ancient world, Samuel was probably breast fed for two to three years. Then he was left to serve the Lord at the tabernacle for the rest of his life.


The baby Samuel would have been just a very small baby at the time of the next Passover Feast. Hannah did not take the baby at this time, because he was not weaned. He will need to stay with his mother, until he is weaned. This will give Hannah some time with him, but it will also take a burden off Eli. He was not equipped to care for a tiny baby. She had no intention of breaking her vow to the LORD. She would keep her vow since the LORD had done as she asked.


1 Samuel 1:23 "And Elkanah her husband said unto her, Do what seemeth thee good; tarry until thou have weaned him; only the LORD establish his word. So the woman abode, and gave her son suck until she weaned him."


"His word": Probably an earlier word of the Lord not recorded in the text.


Samuel was breast fed by his mother, until he was old enough to wean. It was permitted of God for mothers with small children to not go to the yearly feast, so they could stay and care for their babies. It appears that Elkanah and Hannah remembered that babies born under these circumstances are born for a special purpose of God.


It had not been long, since a very similar thing had happened with Samson. The LORD will establish the baby's work when he is old enough to fulfill it.


1 Samuel 1:24 "And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the LORD in Shiloh: and the child [was] young."


"Bullocks ... flour ... wine": According to (Num. 15:8-10), a bull, flour, and wine were to be sacrificed in fulfillment of a vow. Hannah brought all 3 in large measure than required. An Ephah was about three fourths of a bushel.


Samuel would probably have been two or three years old when Hannah presented him to Eli in "Shiloh".


This would be terribly difficult for a mother to do, but she had made a vow to the LORD and she kept it. The three bullocks, one ephah of flour, and the wine were all an offering to the LORD. It appears that Samuel was just a toddler, when he was brought to the LORD.


1 Samuel 1:25 "And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli."


One of the three Hannah brought, unless the singular is put for the plural, and so all three were slain, some for sacrifice, and some for food perhaps. Or if only one was slain, it might be offered as a sacrifice previous to the presentation of Samuel. Or else was made a present of to Eli, at the introduction of Samuel to him, as follows.


"And brought the child to Eli": To be under his care, to be instructed and trained up by him in the service of the tabernacle; from hence it appears that Elkanah the husband of Hannah came along with her at this time.


This one bullock was possibly, to be for a burnt offering for the dedication of Samuel.


1 Samuel 1:26 "And she said, Oh my lord, [as] thy soul liveth, my lord, I [am] the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD."


"As thy soul liveth": Literally "by the light of your soul," a common oath formula.


We remember that Eli had not heard what she had prayed for. He had answered her request; by saying God had answered her prayer. This is the first time that Eli is aware she had promised her son to God. It had been awhile since he had seen her, so she had to remind him of who she is.



Verses 27-28: The various Hebrew words here contain a play on the word ask. Hannah had "asked" the "Lord" for a son (verse 20), and the Lord had granted her asking (verse 27). Accordingly, she on her part had granted an asking (dedicated), she had given Samuel as a lifelong asked-for (consecrated), person to the Lord (verse 28).


These terms are from the same Hebrew root used 4 times in these two verses. Twice (in verse 27), it has the usual meaning of "asked." Twice (in verse 28), it bears the derived meaning "lent on request." The son Hannah requested God had given, and she gives her gift back to the Giver.


1 Samuel 1:27 "For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him:"


Which she now had in her hand, and was presenting to Eli.


"And the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him": And which he also desired might be granted her, or foretold that it would be (1 Sam. 1:17). Though perhaps he knew not then particularly what it was she asked; nor did she acquaint him with it at parting, as she now did. Having obtained of the Lord what she was so solicitous for, and now makes mention of with thankfulness.


1 Samuel 1:28 "Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there."


To be employed in his service, not for a few days, months, or years, but for his whole life. The Targum is, "I have delivered him, that he may minister before the Lord; As she had received him as an answer of prayer, she gave him up according to her vow


"As long as he liveth he shall be lent unto the Lord": Or as the Targum, "all the days that he lives he shall be ministering before the Lord, that is, he shall be lent unto him, and serve him as long as it is desired.


"And he worshipped the Lord there": In the tabernacle at the same time. Either Elkanah, who with Hannah brought the child to Eli, and now gave thanks to God for giving them the child, and prayed unto him that he might be received into the service of the sanctuary; or else Eli. To whom the child was brought for admittance, who when he heard that Hannah's request was granted, which he had entreated also might be or had declared it would be, bowed his head, and gave thanks to God for it.


Or rather the child Samuel, as he was taught and trained up, bowed himself before the Lord, and worshipped him in the tabernacle as soon as he was brought into it, though a child.


What she is really saying is that she has given her son back to the LORD. She had promised she would give him to the service of the LORD all the days of his life and she is fulfilling that vow. Eli realizes what the magnitude of this is, and worships the LORD. Samuel will never stop being her son, but he will never stop being God's servant either. He will be trained by Eli the high priest, in the ways of the LORD.


1 Samuel Chapter 1 Questions


1. Who penned the books of Samuel?


2. What is the main theme?


3. Samuel is the product of ___________.


4. When was Samuel dedicated to the LORD?


5. Who are the three main characters in this book?


6. Samuel was of the tribe of _________.


7. Why is this not stressed in this lesson?


8. Samuel is the same name as __________.


9. What does "Elkanah" mean?


10. In what branch of the Levitical tribe, is Elkanah a common name?


11. Ramathaim-zophim is the same place as __________.


12. Zophim was the name of the ___________.


13. Elkanah was their ________.


14. Elkanah was a very __________, __________ man.


15. Which of the wives was Elkanah's favorite?


16. What does "Hannah" mean?


17. What was one reason it was not wise to have two wives?


18. Where did Elkanah go once a year to worship?


19. Who was the high priest at this time?


20. Who were his two sons, who served as priests?


21. What particular feast did he, probably, attend?


22. What does "Hophni" mean?


23. What does "Phinehas" mean?


24. Who ate the Passover lamb?


25. Why did Elkanah give Hannah twice as much as the others?


26. Who is the adversary?


27. How did Hebrew women feel about not having children?


28. How did Hannah show her grief?


29. What questions did Elkanah ask Hannah?


30. What is the "post", in verse 9, speaking of?


31. Why was Eli there?


32. What is verse 10 really saying?


33. What vow did Hannah make to the LORD?


34. What did Eli think was wrong with Hannah?


35. What does "Belial" mean in verse 16?


36. Who is Eli speaking for in verse 17?


37. What happened, soon after they returned home?


38. What did she name her son?


39. What does "Samuel" mean?


40. Why did she not take him to the tabernacle his first year of life?


41. When did she take Samuel to Eli?


42. They slew a __________ and brought the child to Eli.


43. What did Hannah remind Eli of?


44. How did she fulfill the vow she had made to God?





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1 Samuel 2



1 Samuel Chapter 2

Verses 1-10: In contrast to the prayer that came from her bitterness (1:10), Hannah prayed from joy in these verses. The prominent idea in Hannah's prayer is that the Lord is a righteous judge. He had brought down the proud (Peninnah), and exalted the humble (Hannah). The prayer has four sections:


  1. Hannah prays to the Lord for His salvation (verses 1-2);
  2. Hannah warned the proud of the Lord's humbling (verses 3-8d);
  3. Hannah affirmed the Lord's faithful care for His saints (verses 8e-9b);
  4. Hannah petitioned the Lord to judge the world and to prosper His anointed king (verses 9c-10e).

This prayer has a number of striking verbal similarities with David's song of (2 Sam. 22:2-51):


"Horn" (2:1; 22:3), "rock" (2:2; 22:2-3), salvation/deliverance (2:1-2; 22:2-3), grave/Sheol (2:6; 22:6), "thunder" (2:10; 22:14), "king" (2:10; 22:51), and "anointed" (2:10; 22:51).


1 Samuel 2:1 "And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation."


The "horn" (verse 10), was an ancient symbol of great strength (Num. 23:22; 24:8; Dan. 7:21). At times, it was used of the successful establishment of a progeny (Deut. 33:16-17; 17:1; 1 Chron. 25:5; Psalms 132:17).


"Hannah" owes her strength and newly found success to the Lord's provision for her. Her psalm (1-10), praises the "Lord" for giving her victory in the issues of life.


This is a song of praise from Hannah. She begins by stating the wonderful blessings God has bestowed upon her. The other women can no longer look at her, and think that she is cursed of God. She is no longer barren. Her weeping has been turned into joy.


The "horn" symbolizes strength. Her strength is in the LORD. She can speak of the greatness of God boldly before her enemies. She begins a prophecy of salvation here. She has been delivered. She speaks prophetically of the great deliverance in the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ.


1 Samuel 2:2 "[There is] none holy as the LORD: for [there is] none beside thee: neither [is there] any rock like our God."


"Rock": is a frequent symbolic metaphor of God" as a place of security and rest (Psalms 18:1-2; 31:3; 71:3; Deut. 32:4). Accordingly, it becomes easily applicable to the person of Christ (1 Cor. 10:14; 1 Pet. 2:6-8).


She is very sure of the holiness of the LORD. She is aware, it was the LORD who heard her prayer and sent her a son. He also is the Rock that will never fail her. He is the Rock that is unmovable. Those that build on this Rock should have no fear of the storm.


1 Samuel 2:3 "Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let [not] arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD [is] a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed."


"Proudly ... arrogancy": The majestic and powerful God humbles all those who vaunt themselves against Him. The idea of God's humbling of the very proud is shown throughout (1 and 2 Samuel), toward Peninnah, Eli's sons, the Philistines, Goliath, Saul, Nabal, Absalom, Shimei, Sheba and even David.


Hannah is speaking of the fact that we are what God made us, nothing more, and nothing less. We have nothing to be arrogant about. It is the LORD who decides what will happen and who it will happen to. The Lord weighs our actions, He is the Judge. The knowledge of God is beyond human comprehension. The following are a few of my favorite Scriptures pertaining to this.


Luke 1:51 "He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts."


2 Corinthians 5:10 "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad."


Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."


We may be able to hide our true self from each other, but we cannot hide from God. He knows all things, even the desires of our heart. He is Knowledge and He is Wisdom.



Verses 4-7: Seven contrasts are found in these 4 verses:


  1. Mighty and weak;
  2. Full and hungry;
  3. Barren and fertile;
  4. Dead and alive;
  5. Sick and well;
  6. Humbled and exalted;

1 Samuel 2:4 "The bows of the mighty men [are] broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength."


God reverses human conditions, bringing low the wicked, and raising up the righteous.


"And they that stumbled are girt with strength": Who, through weakness, are ready to stumble at everything they meet with in the way. Yet, being girded with strength by the Lord, are able to do great exploits, as David did, that being his case (in Psalm 18:29). So such as are weak in grace, in faith, in knowledge, and ready to stumble at every trial and exercise, let it come from what quarter it will. Yet being girded by the Lord with strength, are able to exercise grace, perform duty, and go through every service they are called to. Whether in doing or suffering, to bear the yoke and cross of Christ and oppose every enemy, to walk on in the ways of God, and to persevere in faith and holiness to the end.


The Hebrews, better than anyone else, should be aware that mighty men are broken easily, when they are depending on their own strength. Those who humbly obey the LORD are those who win battles.


Psalms 18:2 "The LORD [is] my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, [and] my high tower."


2 Corinthians 12:9 "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."


1 Samuel 2:5 "[They that were] full have hired out themselves for bread; and [they that were] hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble."


"Hath born seven": This is not a personal testimony since Hannah bore only 6 children (2:21). "Seven" here is a general reference to women who God blesses.


At the beginning of this verse, it appears their money to buy this plentiful bread is because they have sold out to the world. God will not let the righteous go hungry, as we see in the following verse.


Psalms 37:25 "I have been young, and [now] am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."


God can rain manna from heaven, if He desires to. She is very familiar with the fact that God can cause the barren to produce children. The number "seven" means spiritually complete. She is, possibly, prophesying that she will have more children. She gave her first to the service of the LORD.


We could see also, the spiritual message in this: the Gentiles were barren, away from God, but will have a multitude in Christ. The feeble, in this, is speaking in a physical sense as well as a spiritual. Women do grow feeble after having many children. The law will wax old as well.


1 Samuel 2:6 "The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up."


Hannah's declaration takes its place beside many other texts demonstrating that Old Testament believers clearly understood there was life after death (Job 14:14; 19:25-27; Psalms 17:14-15; 49:14-15; 73:24-26; Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:1-3).


It is not by chance that we live, and it is not by chance that we die. Our days on this earth are numbered of God. The very breath we possess is a gift from God. Surely, when we do go the way of all flesh and our body dies, that is not the end. Sometimes, those bodies will rise again to eternal life, or eternal damnation.


1 Samuel 2:7 "The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up."


Which is true in a natural sense of the same persons, as might be exemplified in the case of Job; and of different persons, as in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus; for both poverty and riches are of God (see Proverbs 22:2). Poverty is of God; for though it is sometimes owing to a man's own conduct, yet that there is such a difference among men in general, that some should be poor, and others rich, is owing to the wise providence of God, that men may be dependent on one another. Riches are of God, and are the gifts of his bountiful providence; for though they are oftentimes the fruits of industry and diligence, as means, yet not always. And whenever they are, they are to be ascribed to the blessing of God attending the diligent hand.


"He bringeth low, and lifteth up": Which has been verified in the same persons, as in Job, Nebuchadnezzar, etc. And in different persons, for he puts down one, and raises up another; so he rejected Saul from being king, and took David from the sheepfold, debased Haman, and raised Mordecai to great dignity. And, in a spiritual sense, the Lord shows men the low estate and condition they are brought into by sin, humbles them under a sense of it, brings down their proud spirits to sit at the feet of Jesus, and to submit to him, and to his righteousness. And he lifts them up by his son out of their fallen, captive, and miserable estate. And by his Spirit and grace brings them out of the horrible pit of nature into the state of grace; sets them upon the rock Christ, and makes their mountain to stand strong by the discoveries of his love. And will at last lift them up to glory, and place them on the same throne with Christ.


We can keep from being poverty stricken by working diligently here in the United States. It is God who put us in the United States. Some are born to wealthy parents. That is a blessing from God. God can make you prosper at whatever you do. He can cause the land not to produce for you.


Our relationship with the Lord has a great deal to do with whether we are blessed, or cursed of Him. What people generally call good luck is nothing more than blessings from God. They were in the right place, at the right time, because God put them there.


1 Samuel 2:8 "He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, [and] lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set [them] among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth [are] the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them."


"Pillars of the earth": A figure of speech which pictures the earth's stability (Psalms 75:3; 82:5; 104:5).


God is often portrayed as the Defender of the needy, such as the widow, the orphan, the "Poor," and the stranger (Deut. 27:19; Psalms 68:1-5; 82:3-4; Prov. 22:22-23; Jer. 22:3). Hannah's reference to the "pillars of the earth" is not scientific language, but popular and poetic. The Creator and Sustainer of the earth is also the sovereign Controller of earth's history and mankind's destiny.


Most of the judges that were raised to great fame were men of low estate. We remember that Gideon reminded the Lord of his unworthiness, before he accepted his call to greatness. The earth and everything and everyone in it, belong to the Lord. He can do with all of it as He wishes as it is His possessions. We are what we are because of the blessings of God. He decides who will reign.


1 Samuel 2:9 "He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail."


Meaning the steps or paths or their counsels and actions. They will keep both that they may not fall, at least, into mischief or utter ruin; and direct and preserve from wandering, and from those fatal mistakes and errors that wicked men daily run into.


"Shall be silent": Shall be put to silence: they who used to open their mouths wide against heaven, and against the saints, shall be so confounded with the unexpected disappointment of all their hopes, and with God's glorious appearance and operations for his people, that they shall have their months quite stopped, and sit down in silent amazement and consternation (see Isa. 15:1 Jer. 8:14; 47:5-6).


"In darkness": Both inward, in their own minds, which are wholly in the dark, perplexed by their own choice and counsels, not knowing what to say or do; and outward, in a state of deepest distress and misery.


"By strength shall no man prevail": To wit, against God, or against his saints, as the wicked were confident they should do, because of their great power, and wealth, and numbers. Whereas God's people were mean, impotent and helpless. And particularly, Peninnah shall not prevail against me by that strength which she hath, or thinks to have, from her numerous offspring. But it is to be observed, that although Hannah takes the rise of this song from her own condition, yet she extends her thoughts and words further, even to the usual methods of God's providence in the government of the world.


It is not our great physical strength that saves us. We must place our trust in the Lord.


Phil. 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."


We must walk in the Light of the Lord and He will keep our path. The wicked walk in darkness, and cannot find their way. It is His Light that guides us. It is not our strength, but the strength of Christ in us, that makes us succeed.


1 Samuel 2:10 "The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed."


The Lord's presence in power is often associated with "thunder" (Psalms 18:13; 29:3; 77:18). The mention of God's "king, his anointed," is predictive of the messianic king of whom each king in the Davidic line was, ideally, an earthly representative (Psalms 45:6-7; Heb. 1:8-9).


"The Lord shall judge the ends of the earth": The Lord will impose His righteous rule upon all the nations and people (see Isa. 2:2-4).


"His king": Moses had already predicted the coming of a king who would exercise God's rule over all the nations of the earth (Gen. 49:8-12; Num. 24:7-9; 17-19). It was this future, victorious king whom Hannah anticipated and Saul and David prefigured.


"His anointed": Previously in the Old Testament, both the tabernacle and its utensils along with the priests (Aaron and his sons), had been anointed with oil. This pictured their consecrated and holy status before the Lord (Exodus 30:26-30). In Samuel, first Saul (10:1), and then David (16:13; 2 Sam. 2:4; 5:3), were anointed as they were inaugurated for the kingship. From this point in the Old Testament, it is usually the king who is referred as "the anointed (of the Lord;" 12:3; 24:6; 26:9, 11, 16; 2 Sam. 1:14, 16; 19:21). The kings of Israel, particularly David, foreshadowed the Lord's ultimate anointed king. The English word "Messiah" represents the Hebrew word used here meaning "anointed." Thus, this ultimate king who would rule over the nations of the earth came to be referred to as "the Messiah" (as here and 2:35; 2 Sam. 22:51).


The "adversaries of the LORD" are those who have chosen to follow Satan, instead of God. The "thunder from heaven" is speaking of the voice of God. The "LORD that judges" is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Judge. The "horn" symbolizes strength. This Scripture is prophetic. We see the "Anointed of God" is the Messiah, Christ. It is His strength that tears down the adversaries. It is His strength that holds the believers up. It is by His power that He judges.


1 Samuel 2:11 "And Elkanah went to Ramah to his house. And the child did minister unto the LORD before Eli the priest."


"Minister unto the Lord": As a Levite, the boy Samuel performed services that assisted Eli, the High-Priest.


This has suddenly broken away from the prophecy of Hannah, and is telling what happened next. Hannah and her husband Elkanah have left the tabernacle and gone home. The beauty of this is, the fact that Hannah did not complain. She left her son, Samuel, with Eli, to be taught of the things of God. Samuel, from the time he was very small, ministered unto the Lord in the tabernacle. It appears, even from the time he was brought to the service of the Lord (about 3 years old), Samuel began to minister. At first the things he did were just what Eli told him. As he grew, he took on more and more responsibility.



Verses 12-17: "Eli" was a priest and restrainer of sin for Israel, but he failed to be a priest and restrainer of sin in his own home (3:13). Eli's sons were taking parts of the offering before they were offered to God rather than waiting until after the sacrifice had been made, as God had instructed (Lev. 3). By giving in to greed, they showed utter contempt for God's laws.


1 Samuel 2:12 "Now the sons of Eli [were] sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD."


Worthless: "Sons of Belial" was a Hebrew way of saying base or wicked men (see 2 Cor. 6:15), where it is used as a name for Satan. Eli had falsely considered Hannah a wicked woman (1:16). Eli's sons were, in fact, wicked men.


"They knew not the Lord": Elis's sons had no personal experience of or fellowship with, the Lord. The boy Samuel came to "know the Lord" when the Lord revealed Himself to him (see 3:7).


For the "sons of Belial" (see the note on Judges 19:22).


This has always been a mystery, how godly men and women can have children who turn away from God. "Belial", in this particular instance, means worthless. They went through the motions of performing the duties of the priests, but they were not even saved. They knew not God. They lived to please their own flesh.


1 Samuel 2:13 "And the priests' custom with the people [was, that], when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant came, while the flesh was in seething, with a fleshhook of three teeth in his hand;"


"The priests' custom": Not content with the specified portions of the sacrifices given to the priests (Deut. 18:3), Eli's sons would take for themselves whatever meat a 3-pronged fork would collect from a boiling pot.


This was not the law. This was the custom of these greedy people. It appears that Eli's sons had no regard for the law of God. They made up customs that suited their desires.


1 Samuel 2:14 "And he struck [it] into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; all that the fleshhook brought up the priest took for himself. So they did in Shiloh unto all the Israelites that came thither."


The Law of Moses defined exactly what was to be the priest's portion of every peace offering (Lev. 7:31-35), as it also gave express directions about the burning of the fat (Lev. 7:23-25; 7:31). It was therefore a gross act of disobedience and lawlessness on the part of Hophni and Phinehas to take more than the Law gave them. Incidental evidence is afforded by this passage to the existence of the Levitical law at this time.


There were specific portions that should have gone to the priests. There was nothing random about the offerings that God had instructed. The right shoulder of the offering went to the priests, but it must be waved before the altar first.


1 Samuel 2:15 "Also before they burnt the fat, the priest's servant came, and said to the man that sacrificed, Give flesh to roast for the priest; for he will not have sodden flesh of thee, but raw."


"Before they burnt the fat": The law mandated that the fat of the sacrificial animal was to be burned on the altar to the Lord (Lev. 7:31). In contrast, Eli's sons demanded raw meat, including the fat, from the worshipers.


The fat always belonged to God. There were no exceptions to this. It is apparent that either the priest did not know God's law, or just did not have respect for God's law. This would have been a terrible sin.


1 Samuel Chapter 2 Questions


1. What is verse 1 the beginning of?


2. How does it begin?


3. The "horn" symbolizes __________.


4. Why is Hannah so happy?


5. What does Hannah speak of prophetically, beginning with verse 1?


6. What does verse 2 say she is aware of?


7. Those that build upon this ______ should have no fear of the storm.


8. We are what _______ made us, nothing more, and nothing less.


9. The knowledge of God is beyond __________ comprehension.


10. Who should know better than anyone else, that mighty men are broken easily, when they are depending upon their own strength?


11. God's ________ is made perfect in our __________.


12. In verse 5, why is there plenty of money to buy bread?


13. The ________ killeth, and maketh alive.


14. What many people call good luck is really what?


15. Most of the judges, who were raised up, were men of _______ ________.


16. Who are the "adversaries of the LORD"?


17. Who is the "Anointed of God"?


18. As Samuel grew, he took on more and more ___________.


19. The sons of Eli were the sons of _________.


20. How do we know that Eli's sons had no regard for God's law?


21. The fat always belonged to _______.


1 Samuel Chapter 2 Continued

1 Samuel 2:16 "And [if] any man said unto him, Let them not fail to burn the fat presently, and [then] take [as much] as thy soul desireth; then he would answer him, [Nay]; but thou shalt give [it me] now: and if not, I will take [it] by force."


Or stay till they have offered the fat, as the Targum; let that be done in the first place, which may be quickly done, in a very little time, and let as much haste be made as can be to do it.


"And then take as much as thy soul desireth": By which it appears that the men that brought the sacrifice had more religion at heart, and were more concerned for the honor and glory of God than the priest; being willing to suffer in their property, but could not bear that the Lord should be dishonored, and so rudely treated. They were willing the priests should take what they pleased of theirs, though they had no right to any; only they desired the Lord might be served first, which was but reasonable.


"Then he would answer him, nay, but thou shall give it me now, and if not, I will take it by force": Signifying, he would not stay till the fat was burnt, and the Lord had his portion, but he would have it directly. And if he would not give it him freely, he would take it whether he would or not. To such a height of insolence and impiety were the priests arrived, as to put it in the power of their servants to make such wicked demands. And treat God, and those that brought their sacrifices to him, in such a contemptuous manner.


It appears, some of the people knew the law of God better than the priests did. The people did not want to do this abominable thing. The priests (the people's leaders), were forcing them to do this terrible thing. The people, it seemed, did not mind the priests taking even what belonged to the people. They just did not want them taking what belonged to God. Not only did these priests want to take what did not belong to them, but they wanted it before it was cooked in the proper way.


1 Samuel 2:17 "Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD."


That is, the sons of Eli; for they were the ringleaders who set these bad examples, which other priests followed, and therefore the sin is ascribed to them; and which was sadly aggravated by taking what was not their own, and by taking it in a forcible manner, and before the Lord had his part in the offering. All this was done in the tabernacle in the presence of God; which plainly showed that they had no fear of God before their eyes. Nor any sense of his omniscience and omnipresence, any more than of his holiness and justice.


"For men abhorred the offering of the Lord": It was irksome and disagreeable to them to bring their sacrifices, when they saw the law of God was not attended to, and the rules of sacrificing were not observed. Such was such contempt of God and abuse of sacrifices and injury done to those who were sacrificing. And such covetousness and sensuality in the priests, that it even set the people against sacrifices, and made them loath them, and neglect to bring them. And this aggravated the sin of the young men, though the sacrificers were not excused hereby (1 Sam. 2:24).


Not only were the sons of Eli sinning in this, but they were causing the people to sin also. This act of the priests symbolizes what is going on in our churches today. This is such a shame when the leaders of the church lead their members into sin.



"Verses 18-26: In contrast to Eli's sons, Samuel "ministered before the Lord, even as a child," and "Grew ... in favor with both the Lord and men." This description echoes the words used to describe Jesus (in Luke 2:52), and serves to underscore the important role Samuel played in God's redemption of Israel.


1 Samuel 2:18 "But Samuel ministered before the LORD, [being] a child, girded with a linen ephod."


"But Samuel": The faithful ministry of Samuel before the Lord was in sharp contrast to the disobedience of Eli's sons.


"Linen ephod": A close fitting, sleeveless outer vest extending to the hips and worn by priests, especially when officiating before the altar (Exodus 28:6-14).


"Ephod" (compare verse 28 and the note on 23:6), means a "linen" covering worn customarily by those in priestly service.


Eli's sons were bringing disgrace to the worship in the tabernacle. God had chosen for Himself a leader to do the things He taught him. Samuel was chosen of God. He was just a child, and yet, he served the LORD in the ways of the LORD. He even wore a linen garment, while he was serving the LORD. Linen was the plain garment of someone dedicated to the LORD in service.


1 Samuel 2:19 "Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought [it] to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice."


"Little coat": A sleeveless garment reaching to the knees, worn under the ephod (Exodus 28:31).


His mother still loved him as her firstborn. She never complained that she had given him to the LORD, however. A beautiful gesture of the mother's love is the fact that she made him a coat each year. Young boys grow fast. He would need a larger size each year.


1 Samuel 2:20 "And Eli blessed Elkanah and his wife, and said, The LORD give thee seed of this woman for the loan which is lent to the LORD. And they went unto their own home."


"The Lord give thee seed": Eli's blessing was a reminder of Hannah's faithfulness to her vow to the Lord. By providing Hannah with additional children, the Lord continued to be gracious to her.


1 Samuel 2:21 "And the LORD visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters. And the child Samuel grew before the LORD."


In a way of mercy, approving and confirming the blessing of Eli; or rather granting the blessing he prayed for, by giving her power to conceive, bear, and bring forth children, as the following words explain.


"So that she conceived and bare three sons and two daughters": Whereby the prophecy of Hannah was fulfilled (1 Sam. 2:5), and was no doubt matter of great joy to her, though of these children we nowhere else read, nor even of their names.


"And the child Samuel grew before the Lord": in age and stature, in grace and goodness, and improved much in the worship and service of God, both in the theory and practice of it. Or became great with him, high in his esteem and favor, and was blessed with much of his presence, and with large gifts of his grace.


The beautiful thing in all of this is the fact that Samuel was never part of the world. He was taught of the ways of God from infancy. It is interesting to me, that Eli did not think of this very small child as a burden to take care of. He realized from the very beginning that Samuel was of the LORD. He perhaps saw the traits in Samuel, that he wished were in his own sons. Eli speaks a blessing from God on Hannah and Elkanah for their unselfishness in giving their firstborn to the LORD. Notice (in verse 21), the children Hannah has, is because the LORD visited her. They were miracle children from God.


1 Samuel 2:22 "Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled [at] the door of the tabernacle of the congregation."


"Lay with the women": Eli's sons included in their vile behavior having sexual relationships with the women who served at the tabernacle (see Exodus 38:8). Such religious prostitution was common among Israel's Canaanite neighbors.


This is a terrible sin before the LORD. The sad thing is that this very thing still exists in our churches today. We can even try to excuse it by saying men and women were in a private place together and things just got out of hand. There is no excuse acceptable for this type of behavior. Call it what it is, sin. Eli's sons were sinful men. Whether these women worked in the tabernacle, or were just there to worship, makes no difference. Sin is sin.


1 Samuel 2:23 "And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? For I hear of your evil dealings by all this people."


He reproved them, but far too gently, as these and the following words manifest. This might proceed partly from the coldness of old age, but it arose chiefly from his too great indulgence to his children.


"I hear of your evil dealings by all this people": Their wickedness was so notorious that there was a general complaint of it, which should have moved him to much greater severity than merely to reprove and chide them. He ought to have restrained them, and if he could not otherwise have done it. To have inflicted those punishments upon them which such high crimes deserved, according to God's law, and which he, as high-priest and judge, was in duty bound to inflict without respect of person.


1 Samuel 2:24 "Nay, my sons; for [it is] no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD'S people to transgress."


"Ye make the Lord's people to transgress": The life led by the priests publicly in the sanctuary, with their evident scornful unbelief in the divinely established holy ordinances on the one hand, and their unblushing immorality on the other, corrupted the inner religious life of the whole people.


At this time, the high priest and the priests had certain control of the people. The greater sin lay at the feet of these priests, because of this control. Notice the statement "Ye make the LORD"S people to transgress". Even today, it is a tendency of the congregation to elevate the minister to a position of importance. Leaders, whether in the church or outside the church; should greatly guard their conduct. They are leading others and that carries with it a great responsibility.


1 Samuel 2:25 "If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall entreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them." This sin is a sin against God.


"Who shall entreat for him": Eli's point to his sons was that if God would surely judge when one sinned against another man, how much more would He bring judgment against those who sinned against Him.


"The Lord would slay them": Because Eli's sons had persisted in their evil ways; God had already determined to judge them. This divine, judicial hardening, the result of defiant refusal to repent in the past, was the reason Hophni and Phinehas refused to heed Eli's warnings.


The sins of Eli's sons were not only crimes against their fellowmen (verses 13 to 17, 22), but against God Himself. Such conduct could only draw severe judgment (compare verse 34 with 4:11). The case of Eli's sons demonstrates the need for firm parental instruction and supervision, especially in the home of one who ministers in the name of the "Lord" (verse 29; compare 3:13; 1 Tim. 3:4-5).


1 Samuel 2:26 "And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favor both with the LORD, and also with men."


"The child Samuel grew on": In contrast to the apostate sons of Eli, Samuel was maturing both spiritually and socially (Luke 2:52).


In the midst of the sins of Eli, Samuel was growing upright in the LORD. God did not overlook Samuel's loyalty to Him. The people appreciated Samuel's loyalty to God as well.



Verses 27-30: Eli and his house would be excluded from the privilege of serving as priests. Spiritual privileges are not irrevocable rights but by important responsibilities to be taken seriously and performed with care.


"Thy father" is a reference to Aaron, the first high priest of Israel (Exodus 4:14-16; Num. 3:1-4).


1 Samuel 2:27 "And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house?"


"Man of God" is one of several terms used in the Old Testament for a prophet. It stresses the nature of his relationship to God: he is, above all, God's man.


"House of thy father ... in Egypt": Although Eli's genealogy was not recorded in the Old Testament, he was a descendant of Aaron. The Lord had revealed Himself to Aaron in Egypt before the Exodus (see Exodus 4:4-16). Aaron had been divinely chosen to serve the Lord as the first in a long line of priests (Exodus 28:1-4).


A "man of God" generally means a prophet. It does not tell us his name, but that is probably, who is intended here. Whoever he is, the message is from the LORD. God immediately reminds Eli that it was the LORD who brought them out of Egypt.


1 Samuel 2:28 "And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel [to be] my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?"


"To be my priest": The chief duties of the priests were:


(1) To place the offerings upon the altar;


(2) To burn the incense in the holy place; and


(3) To wear the linen ephod (see verse 18).


1 Samuel 2:29 "Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded [in my] habitation; and honorest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?"


"Mine offering": In recognition of their service to God and His people, the priests were allocated specific parts of the offering which were brought to the sanctuary (see Lev. 2:3, 10; 7:31-36).


"Honorest": By condoning the sin of Hophni and Phinehas, Eli had shown preference for his sons above the Lord. Therefore, Eli was unworthy of the Lord's blessing.


God had chosen Aaron and his descendants to be the high priest and the priests of the tabernacle. This was the highest honor God could pay a man, to make him high priest. He was to be above sin. This honor carried with it the responsibility to put God and His law above everything, and everyone. The high priest was God's communication with man upon the earth. He spoke through the Urim and the Thummim worn by the high priest. The high priest was in direct communication with the LORD.


All of this should have made the high priest a man of tremendous integrity, one who knew and reverenced God above all else. Eli had allowed his sons to take the food that belonged to God and to the person offering, for themselves. Eli had put his sons above God.


1 Samuel 2:30 "Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed [that] thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed."


"I said indeed": The Lord had promised that Aaron's descendants would always be priests (exodus 29:9), and He had confirmed that promise by oath (Num. 25:13). Because of flagrant disobedience, the house of Eli would forfeit their priesthood. Although the Aaronic priest-hood was perpetual, priests could forfeit their position by their sin.


The punishment of the leader of the congregation (in this case the high priest), is greater, because he sinned in full knowledge. Judgment begins at the house of God. God removes the perpetual priesthood from Eli here, because he knew of the sins of his sons and did nothing about it.



Verses 31-36: This prophetic denunciation declares that the family of Eli, from the high priestly house of Ithamar, would have its privilege removed and that the high priesthood would be given to another line. This apparently took place in the time of Solomon when the high priesthood was transferred back to Zadok of the line of Eleazar, where it had been before Eli's time (Num. 20:22-28; 25:11-13 with 4:3; 1 Kings 2:26-27). To Zadok's house is promised a perpetual priesthood (Ezek. 44:15; 48:11).


1 Samuel 2:31 "Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house."


"There shall not be an old man in thine house": The judgment of untimely death followed the descendants of Eli. Eli's sons died in the flower of their manhood (4:11). Later, Saul massacred the priests at Nob (22:16-19). Ultimately, Solomon removed Abiathar from the priesthood (1 Kings 2:26-27), and the priestly line of Eleazar prevailed, as God promised (Num. 25:12-13).


1 Samuel 2:32 "And thou shalt see an enemy [in my] habitation, in all [the wealth] which [God] shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever."


"Enemy in my habitation": This probably referred to the desecration of the tabernacle, where the Lord dwelt, at Shiloh by the Philistines (see Jer. 7:12-14).


This is just saying that, God will kill Eli's sons and Eli for their sins. The "arm", in this case, is speaking of descendants. All of the men of Eli's descendants will die young. They will not live to be old men. There would be prosperity for the Hebrews under Samuel, Saul, David, and Solomon's reign, but the house of Eli would not have sons to live to old age to enjoy it.


1 Samuel 2:33 "And the man of thine, [whom] I shall not cut off from mine altar, [shall be] to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age."


Of his family, which should spring from him: whom I shall not cut off from mine altar: from serving there? Who though he shall not be a high priest, but a common priest, as all the descendants of Aaron were.


"Shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart": That is, the eyes and heart of his posterity; who though they should see of their family ministering in the priest's office, yet should make so poor a figure on account of their outward meanness and poverty. Or because of their want of wisdom and intellectual endowments. Or because of their scandalous lives, that it would fill their hearts with grief and sorrow, and their eyes with tears, so that their eyes would fail, and be consumed, and their hearts be broken.


"And all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age": Or "die men"; grown men, not children, when it would not be so great an affliction to part with them. But when at man's estate, in the prime of their days, perhaps about thirty years of age, the time when the priests entered upon their office to do all the work of it. The Targum is, "shall be killed young men:" It is more than once said in the Talmud, that there was a family in Jerusalem, the men of which died at eighteen years of age; they came and informed Juchanan ben Zaccai of it; he said to them, perhaps of the family of Eli are ye, as it is said (1 Sam. 2:33).


This is the most hurtful of the judgments of God. God will allow him to see the death of his sons. Just about the worst hurt parents can have in this life, is to live to see the death of their children. Even though his descendants are cut off living in their youth, they will still be required to serve the LORD in the tabernacle.


1 Samuel 2:34 "And this [shall be] a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them."


"A sign unto thee": The death of Eli's two sons on the same day validated the prophecy (4:11, 17).


We remember that, the same fate came to the two sons of Aaron, who sinned against God. God will not allow them to live, to continue in corrupting the congregation. Hophni and Phinehas are acting priests in the tabernacle. They will both die for their sins in one day. Judgment of God falls on them the same day.


1 Samuel 2:35 "And I will raise me up a faithful priest, [that] shall do according to [that] which [is] in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever."


"I will raise me up a faithful priest": This is speaking of Samuel (in the near future). It is most assuredly speaking prophetically of Christ. He is the true High Priest, after the order of Melchizedec. Notice "forever" in the Scripture above. Samuel was dedicated to God for his entire life. This goes much further, and speaks of the eternal High Priest of us all; Jesus Christ the Righteous. He will know the perfect will of God. Even Jesus said, "Father, not my will, but thine be done".


However, the ultimate fulfillment of the faithful priest is found in the Lord Jesus Christ (Psalm 110; Heb. 5:6; 7:24-25; Rev. 19:11).


"I will build him a sure house": The sons of Zadok will also serve in the millennial temple (see Ezek. 44:15; 48:11).


"Mine anointed": This refers to the Messiah who will defeat God's enemies and establish His rule in the Millennium (see verse 10).


1 Samuel 2:36 "And it shall come to pass, [that] every one that is left in thine house shall come [and] crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests' offices, that I may eat a piece of bread."


"A morsel of bread": The judgment corresponded to the sin. Those who had gorged themselves on the sacrifices (verses 12-17), were reduced to begging for a morsel of food.


This is speaking of them coming to Samuel. The Levitical tribe, and particularly the descendants of Eli, lived of the offerings in the tabernacle. They needed this food offered to live.


1 Samuel Chapter 2 Continued Questions


1. It seemed some of the ________ knew the law of God better than the priests did.


2. Who were the sons of Eli causing to sin?


3. What did Samuel wear in the tabernacle?


4. What did Samuel's mother do for him, once a year?


5. Who speaks a blessing on Hannah and Elkanah?


6. Why does Hannah have more children?


7. What terrible sin, of the sons of Eli, do we read in verse 22?


8. Why did they not listen to the voice of their father?


9. Who was Samuel in favor with?


10. Who came and warned Eli of what was to happen?


11. What would happen to Eli's descendants?


12. What is the most hurtful of the judgments of God on Eli?


13. What happens to Phinehas and Hophni?


14. Who is verse 35 speaking of?


15. Why would Eli's descendants beg for food?





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1 Samuel 3



1 Samuel Chapter 3

1 Samuel 3:1 "And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; [there was] no open vision."


"The child Samuel": Samuel was no longer a child (2:21, 26). While Jewish historian Josephus suggested he was 12 years of age, he was probably a teenager at this time. The same Hebrew term translated here "boy" was used of David when he slew goliath (17:33).


Samuel lived at a time when prophets rarely spoke to Israel. The Israelites' hearts were hard, and the Lord knew they would not listen.


"Word of the Lord was precious": The time of the judges was a period of extremely limited prophetic activity. The few visions that God did give were not widely known.


"Visions": A divine revelation mediated through an auditory or visual encounter.


The severity of Israel's apostasy (Judges 21:25), caused a dearth of God's revelatory work. The condition was perpetuating and self-defeating (Prov. 29:18). By God's grace, the prophetic institution would receive renewed impetus and standardization in the person and work of "Samuel" (3:21; 19:20).


The idea of the "Word of the LORD being precious" means that there was very little of the Word of God spoken to men in those days. This made the thing that happens to Samuel in this lesson, even more special. "Vision", in this particular verse above, means seeing something in the spirit that those around you do not see. This type of vision had not happened in a long time. We will see both of these things happen to Samuel here. From birth, he had been dedicated to God.


1 Samuel 3:2 "And it came to pass at that time, when Eli [was] laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, [that] he could not see;"


The passage should be rendered thus: "And it came to pass at that time that Eli was sleeping in his place; and his eyes had begun to grow dim; he could not see. And the lamp of God was not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord where the Ark of God was; and the Lord called Samuel, etc."


Eli's old age and dimness of sight is probably mentioned as the reason why Samuel thought Eli had called him. Being a blind and feeble old man, he was likely to do so if he wanted anything, either for himself, or for the service of the temple.


We do not know the exact age of Samuel or of Eli here. We do know that the sight of Eli had deteriorated. His physical and his spiritual sight had deteriorated. We know the LORD did not like him overlooking the sins of his sons. The fact that the eyes had gradually gotten dim, indicate that his blindness is from his age.


1 Samuel 3:3 "And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God [was], and Samuel was laid down [to sleep];"


"The lamp of God went out in the temple": The golden lampstand, located in the Holy Place of the tabernacle, was filled with olive oil and lit at twilight (Exodus 30:8). The lamp was kept burning from evening until morning (Exodus 27:20-21). Just before dawn, while the golden lampstand was still burning, Samuel was called to his prophetic ministry.


"The Ark": The "Ark" at Shiloh apparently was housed in some type of permanent structure (verse 15). The "lamp" was situated outside of the veil in the Holy Place and burned from evening until morning (Lev. 24:3; see Exodus 25:10-22).


We know that the lamp of God was never to go out in the tabernacle where the Ark was. One of the duties of the priest was to fill the lamp with oil twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. This was to be a perpetual light. Samuel lay down to sleep, because it was night.


1 Samuel 3:4 "That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here [am] I."


By a voice which came forth from the most holy place, from between the cherubim, the seat of the divine Majesty:


"And he answered, here am I": Which was not intended to declare the place where he was, but to express his readiness and cheerfulness to do anything that was required of him.


We can safely assume that Samuel had never heard the voice of God at this time. He answered "Here am I", when he heard his name, thinking it was Eli calling him. He had served Eli all of his life. He is probably, still under 12 years old at this point or perhaps was just 12. We know he is still a youth.


1 Samuel 3:5 "And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here [am] I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down."


He got out of his bed as fast as he could, and put on his clothes, and ran with all haste to the apartment where Eli lay, supposing he wanted some immediate assistance, which he was there ready to give him to the utmost of his ability; and he made the more haste, as knowing his age and infirmities, and being desirous, out of affection to him, to help him as soon as possible.


"For thou calledst me": He took it to be the voice of Eli, partly because there was no other man in the tabernacle, it being in the middle of the night, or early in the morning, before the doors were opened, or any of the priests were come in to minister, and partly because the voice might be very much like Eli's, and which was done to direct him to him.


"And he said, I called not, lie down again": He signified he wanted nothing, and so had no occasion to call him, nor had he, but bid him go to bed again, and sleep quietly.


"And he went and lay down": And very probably fell asleep again.


The commitment that had been made on Samuel's life had been made by Samuel's mother. Perhaps, it is time for Samuel to decide for himself. Eli had no idea at first, that this was the LORD calling Samuel. We know the condition of Eli's sons and the LORD was angry with Eli, as well. They had not heard the voice of God, and now, Samuel hears God but thinks it is Eli calling.


1 Samuel 3:6 "And the LORD called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here [am] I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again."


Called him a second time by his name, with a like audible voice as before.


"And Samuel arose, and went to Eli": Did not run as before, being perhaps more thoughtful of this affair that he should be called a second time, and careful not to awake Eli, should he be mistaken again, and find him asleep.


"And said, here am I, for thou didst call me": Perceiving that he was awake, he desired to know what he wanted, and he was ready to help him; for he was now certain of it that he did call him:


"And he answered, I called not, my son, lie down again": By this appellation, my son, he expresses his affection to him, and signifies he took it kindly that he should show such readiness to do anything for him and would not have him be discouraged and abashed, because he was mistaken, but return to his bed and rest again.


This reminds me of the way God calls all of us to be his sons. He calls and we do not recognize His voice at first. Sometimes He calls several times, before we even realize it is God calling. Again, this second time, Samuel hears the voice and mistakes it for Eli's voice. He runs to serve Eli, but Eli had not called him. Notice Eli calls him son here as he had been as a son to Eli.


1 Samuel 3:7 "Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him."


"Samuel did not yet know the Lord": Samuel had not yet encountered the Lord in a personal way, nor had he received God's Word by divine revelation (see 2:12).


Even though he had learned about Him his whole life, knowing about God is not the same as a personal relationship with Him.


Babies are many times dedicated to the LORD by their parents. This does not save the person. All a dedication does, is a promise by the parents to raise the child in the ways of God. When a person comes to the age, that they are responsible enough to make their own decisions, they must come to God themselves. We call it the age of accountability.


We know that Samuel had been raised right, but now, he must make his own decision to follow God. He did know of God, because he had worked in the sanctuary. He did not know the LORD personally, however. He did not know the Word of God either. Notice, the word "revealed", in the verse above. We can read the Word of God, and still not know what it means, until it is revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.


1 Samuel 3:8 "And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here [am] I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child."


The whole story of the eventful night is told so naturally, the supernatural wonderfully interwoven with the common life of the sanctuary, that we forget, as we read, the strangeness of the events recorded. The sleeping child is awakened by a voice uttering his name. He naturally supposes it is his half-blind old master summoning him. The same thing occurs a second and a third time. Then it flashed upon Eli the boy had had no dream.


We can well fancy the old man, when Samuel again came in, asking, "Where did the voice you thought was mine come from?" and the boy would reply, "From your chamber, master." And the old high priest would remember that in the same direction, only at the extremity of the sanctuary, behind the veil, was the Ark and the seat of God. Was, then, the glory of the Lord shining there? And did the voice as in old days proceed from that sacred golden throne? So he told his pupil; go to his chamber again, and if the voice spoke to him again, to answer, not Eli, but the invisible King "Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth."


"Eli perceived": Eli was slow to recognize that God was calling Samuel. This indicates that Eli's spiritual perception was not what it should have been as the priest and judge of Israel (see also 1:12-16).


We see from this that the LORD continued to call, until somehow, Samuel could know this was the LORD calling. Eli finally realizes that this is the LORD calling Samuel. We must remember that Eli was the only spiritual leader that Samuel had had.


We must never discount the fact that God might be speaking to someone. When they tell us something has happened to them, we who teach must listen carefully to what they are saying. Then we may give our opinion. Now we see that Eli realizes this is the LORD. Eli still understood about visions and Words from God. The man of God had spoken to Eli you remember.


1 Samuel 3:9 "Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place."


Once more:


"And it shall be, if he call thee": The voice, or the Lord by it.


"That thou shalt say, speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth": His meaning is, that he should not rise and come to him, as he had done, but continue on his bed, on hearing the voice again, but desire the Lord to speak to him what he had to say, to which he was ready to attend.


"So Samuel went and lay down in his place": Which, is commonly understood, was in the court of the Levites (see 1 Sam. 3:3).


Now, Eli explains to Samuel how to answer this voice. We see from this, that Samuel was obedient to Eli. He tells Samuel exactly what to say when the voice calls him.


1 Samuel 3:10 "And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth."


God's call to Samuel came with greater intensity each time. This last time He called his name twice, a signal that this was a crucial moment. Other people whom God called by repeating their names include Abraham (Gen. 22:11), Jacob (Gen 46:2), and Moses (Exodus 3:4).


"Thy servant heareth": "To hear with interest," or "to hear so as to obey."


This means that while Samuel was fully awake, the presence of the LORD came into the room where Samuel was and spoke to him. The other times, there had just been a voice. This time the presence is in the room with Samuel. Samuel does not call the presence by name, because he is not acquainted with Him.


1 Samuel 3:11 "And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle."


"Ears ... shall tingle": A message of impending destruction, here of Eli's house (see 2 Kings 21:12; Jer. 19:3).


This happening will be of such impact, that those who hear of it will have their ears tingle from the hearing.


1 Samuel 3:12 "In that day I will perform against Eli all [things] which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end."


"All things which I have spoken" (see 2:27-36). The repetition of the oracle against Eli to Samuel confirmed the word spoken by the man of God.


This is speaking of the day that God kills Eli's two sons, and Eli dies. The man of God had brought news before, that God was displeased with Eli for the way he handled the sins of his sons. Probably Eli had not shared that with Samuel. Now, the LORD is telling Samuel, before it happens.


1 Samuel 3:13 "For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not."


"His sons made themselves vile": LXX reads "his sons blasphemed God." Cursing God was an offense worthy of death (see Lev. 24:11-16, 23).


"He restrained them not": Eli was implicated in the sins of his sons because he did not intervene with judgment. If his sons were blaspheming God, they should have been stoned (see Lev. 24:15-16).


Samuel needs to know why the LORD will destroy Eli and his sons. The LORD also makes Samuel aware that Eli has already been told of this. The main thing is that he tells Samuel of what Eli's sin is, so that Samuel will never make the same mistake.


1 Samuel 3:14 "And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever."


"Not be purged with sacrifice ... for ever": Eli's family was apparently guilty of presumptuous sin. For such defiant sin, there was no atonement and the death penalty could be immediately applied (see Num. 15:30-31).


The sacrifice and offering are speaking of the bloody and the bloodless offering. Whatever they do to try to repent, God will not accept because they had time to repent and did not.


1 Samuel 3:15 "And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to show Eli the vision."


This is another notice which indicates that the sanctuary of Shiloh was enclosed in a house or temple. We have no record of the building of the first house of the Lord, but from the references contained in the record of Samuel's childhood it is clear that the sacred Tabernacle had been for some time enclosed by, and perhaps covered in with permanent buildings.


"And Samuel feared to show Eli the vision": Here was Samuel's first experience of the prophet's cross: the having unwelcome truth to divulge to those he loved, honored, and feared. Jeremiah felt this cross to be an exceedingly heavy one (Jer.15:10; 17:15-18; 20:7-18).


This does not say that Samuel slept. It is almost certain that he did not sleep after such an encounter with the LORD. He did stay lying down until time to open the sanctuary, however. Perhaps, this was so he would not disturb Eli. Samuel was reluctant to tell the vision to Eli, because it condemned Eli and his sons.


1 Samuel 3:16 "Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here [am] I."


Perceiving he was risen by the opening of the doors of the tabernacle, which he might hear; and observing he did not come to him as usual, to know whether he wanted anything, and being impatient to hear what was said to him of the Lord.


"And he said, Samuel, my son": Called him by his name, and in a very tender and affectionate manner, the more to engage him to hasten to him, and thereby also putting him in mind of his respectful duty to obey him.


"And he answered, here am I": Ready to attend and perform any service required of him.


In all of this, we must take notice of the obedient spirit that Samuel had.


1 Samuel 3:17 "And he said, What [is] the thing that [the LORD] hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide [it] not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide [any] thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee."


"God do so to thee, and more also": This is an oath of imprecation. Eli called down God's judgment on Samuel if he refused to tell everything he knew.


Eli's charge to Samuel is phrased in the familiar oath formula of the ancient Near East.


From the statement Eli made here, we can see that he knew this was to be news of the same thing the man of God had said to him. He knows it is not good news or Samuel would have been anxious to tell him. Samuel knows he must tell him.



Verses 18-19: The Lord's message to Samuel is the same one Eli received from the man of God (in 2:26-36). The similarity of the two messages confirms the authenticity of Samuel's. God "let none of his words fall to the ground" means that all of Samuel's prophecies, delivered to him by God, came true, further confirmation of his prophetic office.


1 Samuel 3:18 "And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It [is] the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good."


"Let him do what seemeth him good": Eli resigned himself to divine sovereignty, without reluctance.


Samuel obeyed Eli, and told everything the LORD had told him. Eli already knew in his heart what he had said. He humbly accepts the punishment of the LORD upon himself and upon his sons.


1 Samuel 3:19 "And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground."


"The Lord was with him": The Lord's presence was with Samuel, as it would be later with David (16:18; 18:12). The Lord's presence validated His choice of a man for His service.


"Let none of his words fall": Everything Samuel said with divine authorization came true. This fulfillment of Samuel's word proved that he was a true prophet of God (see Deut. 18:21-22).


In this one sentence, Samuel grew from a youth to a man. He was not an idle talker. All of his words were for a good purpose. He only spoke, when the words were of use to the LORD.


1 Samuel 3:20 "And all Israel from Dan even to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel [was] established [to be] a prophet of the LORD."


"From Dan even to Beer-sheba": serves as a familiar geographic description for all Israel from its northern to its southern limits.


"Dan even to Beer-sheba": The traditional limits of the land of Israel from the north to the south.


"Prophet of the Lord": Samuel's status as a spokesman of God's message was acknowledged by all throughout Israel.


Samuel was not only a prophet of God, but the last of the judges, as well. He was such a Godly man, that all knew he was called of God. We know that Eli, probably told everyone about why Samuel was living with him, instead of with his mother and father. He perhaps, even told of the call of the LORD to Samuel. He probably had turned many of his duties over to Samuel.


1 Samuel 3:21 "And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD."


In the tabernacle there; he had appeared before to Samuel, when he called him, and declared to him what he designed and resolved to do to Eli and his family, and now appeared again to him in the same place before the battle of the Israelites with the Philistines, of which there is an account in the following chapter. Such appearances had not been usual in Shiloh for a long time, but were now renewed and repeated.


"For the Lord revealed himself to Samuel by the Word of the Lord": By Christ, the Word of the Lord, who appeared to him, it is probable, in a human form, as he was wont to do to the patriarchs and prophets. And by whom the Lord revealed his mind and will unto them, being the Angel of his presence, and the messenger of his covenant. Or by giving him a word of command to be delivered by him to the children of Israel, and which is expressed and delivered, in the next chapter.


The Ark was at Shiloh in the tabernacle. The Ark symbolized the presence of the LORD. This had not been just in a symbolic form that Samuel had heard the voice of the LORD. It was, in fact, the presence of the LORD that spoke to Samuel. The Word of God is Jesus Christ. We know this revelation of Himself in His Word, is what this is speaking of. Samuel's spiritual eyes were opened, and he understood the Scriptures.


1 Samuel Chapter 3 Questions


1. What was meant by the "Word of the Lord being precious" in those days?


2. What is "vision", in verse 1, speaking of?


3. Who do both of these things happen to in this lesson?


4. What was the condition of Eli in those days?


5. What did the LORD have against Eli?


6. Eli's blindness was from _______.


7. The lamp of God was to __________ go out.


8. What was one of the duties of the priest?


9. How often was the lamp to be filled with oil?


10. Who called Samuel, while he was lying down to rest?


11. Who did he think it was?


12. How did Samuel answer?


13. How old does the author think Samuel is at the time of verse 4 and 5?


14. What did Eli tell him to do?


15. How many times did the LORD call Samuel, before Eli realized who was calling?


16. Why did Samuel not know this was the voice of the LORD?


17. What does a dedication by your parent do for you?


18. He knew ____ God, but did not know Him personally.


19. Who was the only one who had ever taught Samuel?


20. Why was Eli able to perceive that the LORD called Samuel?


21. What did Eli tell Samuel to answer to the voice?


22. What did the LORD do differently the fourth time?


23. How did Samuel answer?


24. In verse 12, the LORD tells Samuel He is against whom?


25. What had the sons done?


26. Why was Eli being punished for what his sons did?


27. What was the usual way of being purged from sins?


28. Will the LORD accept this for the sons of Eli?


29. Why did Samuel lie there, until the morning?


30. Why had Samuel not told Eli what the LORD had said?


31. When he did tell, what reaction did Eli have?


32. Who accepted Samuel as a prophet of the LORD?





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1 Samuel 4



1 Samuel Chapter 4

Verses 1-11: Israel's disobedience here is in contrast to their later obedience and subsequent victory over the Philistines (in 7:12).


1 Samuel 4:1 "And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Ebenezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek."


"The word of Samuel came to all Israel": The text of (1:1 - 3:21), climaxes with the establishment of Samuel as God's spokesman/representative. Observe that "the word of the Lord" (3:21), has become equivalent to "the word of Samuel."


"Philistines" From the period of the judges through the end of David's reign, the Philistines ("Sea People"), were an ever-present enemy of Israel. They were non-Semitic immigrants (see Gen. 10:14; 1 Chron. 1:12, Jer. 47:4-5; Amos 9:7), who settled along the coastal regions of southern Canaan, organizing their power in five chief cities: Ashdod, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath and Gaza (1 Sam. 6:17; Judges 3:13). The introduction of the Philistines into the narrative provides a link between the judgeship of Samuel and the judgeship which Samson was not able to complete (Judges Chapters 13-16).


"Ebenezer": the location of this site has not been specifically identified. Opposite Aphek in Israelite territory, it is possibly modern Izbet Sarteh on the road to Shiloh. When translated it means "stone of help," and its mention here (and 5:1; and again in 7:12), of another location mark this section as a literary unit.


"Aphek": This site is located near the source of the Yarkon River, at the southern end of the coastal Plain of Sharon, approximately 5 miles east of the Mediterranean. This city marked the northeastern edge of Philistine territory.


For the "Philistines" (see the note on Joshua 13:2-3).


This battle with the Philistines had been an ongoing thing. The Israelites might win a war against them, but they never seemed to be rid of them completely. The word of Samuel above is actually a Word from God. "And" shows us this is a continuation of the last chapter. Eli was so old at this time that God was now speaking through Samuel. The LORD is about to punish Eli, his two sons, and all the people because of their disobedience to His commandments. Ebenezer" means the stone of help. "Aphek" means fortress.


1 Samuel 4:2 "And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men."


Prepared for battle, and put their selves in a posture for it; they formed in a line of battle, and so invited and challenged the Israelites to fight them.


"And when they joined battle": Engaged with each other, the Israelites doing the same, putting themselves in a proper form and posture for fighting; or "the battle was spread", or "spread itself". That is, as the Targum, they that made war were spread; the soldiers were placed in order for battle, to the right and left, which took up on both sides a large space. Though Abarbinel understands this in a very different sense, and takes the word to have the same signification as (in Psalm 78:60), where it has the sense of forsaking. And so here the Israelites forsook the battle, and fled, which brought on their destruction. Flight being, as the Jews say, the beginning of fall or ruin, as it follows:


"Israel was smitten before the Philistines": They had the worst of it and were beaten.


"And they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men": So many fell upon the spot, in the field.


It appears, these two armies met in the open field and the Philistines won. Israel lost about four thousand men in the battle.


1 Samuel 4:3 "And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies."


"Wherefore hath the Lord smitten us to day": The question of the elders reflected their knowledge that the Lord both fought their battles (2:10; 17:47), and allowed their defeat. To be defeated clearly meant that God was not "among" them (Num. 14:42; Deut. 1:42). Instead of inquiring of the Lord for direction, they proceeded to take the matter into their own hands.


"Let us fetch the Ark": The Ark symbolized the presence and power of the Lord. Yet, Israel treated it like a good-luck charm, which would ensure them victory over the Philistines. Knowing that victory or defeat depended upon the Lord's presence, they confused the symbol of His presence with His actual presence. In this way, their understanding of God resembled that of the Philistines (4:8).


The "Ark" symbolized the ruling presence of God among His people. (See the note on 1 Kings 8:10-12; 2 Chron. 8:11). The low spiritual condition of the Israelites here caused them to confuse the symbol with that which it symbolized so that they took the Ark into battle. Although the Ark had been present when they crossed the Jordan River (Joshua 3:11), and when they had gained the victory at Jericho (Joshua 6:7-8, 13), it was God who had granted them guidance and victory. Israel's plan had bordered on a superstitious fetishism, if not outright idolatry. As such, it was doomed to failure.


The Israelites are surprised at their defeat in this war. They know when they lose in battle that it is punishment from God. They send for the Ark, believing that the presence of God will cause them to win the battle. They have forgotten that the LORD blesses them, when they keep His commandments. He will not save them just because they physically carry the Ark with them. They are using the Ark, as if it is some type of good luck charm. They are not in the will of God. The blessings of God are not with them.


This is probably, a suggestion of the elders to go and get the Ark. They are not in good standing with the LORD however. The Ark symbolized the presence of God with them. It also symbolized that they were His chosen people. They have forgotten that this is conditional on their keeping His commandments.


1 Samuel 4:4 "So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth [between] the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, [were] there with the ark of the covenant of God."


"Dwelleth between the cherubims": A repeated phrase used to describe the Lord (see 2 Sam. 6:2; 2 Kings 19:15, 1 Chron. 13:6; Psalms 80:1; 99:1; Isa. 37:16). It spoke of His sovereign majesty.


"Hophni and Phinehas": These were the two wicked sons of Eli (2:12-17, 27-37), of whom it was said that they "didn't know the Lord" (2:12). The fact that they were mentioned together recalls the prophecy that they would die together (2:34).


The LORD's presence being symbolized by the Ark caused them to want to bring it to the forefront of the battle. They were not concerned for the Ark, but for themselves. The sins of Hophni and Phinehas were the very cause of the LORD not being with Israel at this time. The throne of the LORD is in heaven, but he had dwelt with the children of Israel in the sanctuary.


1 Samuel 4:5 "And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again."


As far as we know, this was the first time since the establishment of the people in Canaan that the Ark had been brought from the permanent sanctuary into the camp. The shout of joy represented the confidence of the army that now the Ark, which had witnessed so many splendid victories of the chosen race, was among them.


They shouted because they thought God would win this battle for them. They wanted to use God's power, when they needed Him to save them. They did not want to obey His commandments however. It seemed that everyone in the camp shouted, when they saw the Ark in the camp.


1 Samuel 4:6 "And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What [meaneth] the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the LORD was come into the camp."


"Hebrews": (In Genesis 14:13), the name "Hebrew" was applied to Abram. Consequently, the name came to refer to the physical descendants of Abraham. It was used to distinguish them as a class of people distinct from the foreigners around them. It means that Abram was a descendant of Eber in the line of Shem (10:25; 11:14-16).


This triumphal shout of the Hebrews frightened the Philistines. They were not afraid of the Hebrews, but they were afraid of the God of the Hebrews.


1 Samuel 4:7 "And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore.


"And the Philistines were afraid", when the spies returned, and reported to them the reason of the shouting. For they said: "God is come into the camp"; into the camp of Israel, because the ark represented him, and was the symbol of his presence. And these Heathens might take the ark itself for an idol of the Israelites. The Targum is, "the ark of God is come"


And they said, woe unto us; it is all over with us, destruction and ruin will be our case, victory will go on their side now their God is among them.


"Not been such a thing heretofore": The idol to the Philistine, was thought to be the actual dwelling place of his deity. Hence, when Israel brought the Ark into the camp, the Philistines concluded that God was present, an exclamation that reflected a knowledge of God's power.


Even though the Philistines were worshippers of false gods, they still knew that the God of these Hebrews had won many battles against Israel's enemies. They knew they were no match for Israel's God.


1 Samuel 4:8 "Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these [are] the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness."


"The Gods that smote the Egyptians": Evidently, the news of God's victory over the Egyptians was common knowledge to the Philistines.


Gods here, is speaking of Elohim, which is a plural word speaking of the One True God. The plagues these Philistines are speaking of are actually the ten plagues brought against Pharaoh to cause him to let the people go. Those plagues actually happened in Egypt, before the crossing of the Red Sea.


1 Samuel 4:9 "Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight."


"Servants ... as they have been to you": Israel's failure to uproot all the inhabitants of Canaan (see Judges 1:28), cause them to fall under the judgment of God. As a consequence of this judgment, Israel was enslaved to Philistine oppression (see Judges 10:13-16). The Philistines feared that they would become servants of the Hebrews.


The Philistines rallying cry to show themselves as real "men" was a familiar one in the ancient Near East (Deut. 31:6-7, 23; Joshua 1:6-7, 9; 2 Chron. 32:7 with 1 Cor. 16:13-14).


This was a call to bravery, even if they lost their lives. They would rather die, than be the servants of these people who had served them. Be brave, and fight.


1 Samuel 4:10 "And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen."


The result was strictly in accordance with those immutable laws which have ever guided the connection of Israel and their God-Friend. As long as they clave to the invisible Preserver, and served Him with their whole heart and soul, and kept themselves pure from the pollution of the idol nations around them, so long was He in their midst, so long would they be invincible.


But if, as now, they chose to revel in the impure joys, and to delight themselves in the selfish, shameless lives of the idolatrous world around them, and only carried the Ark on their shoulders, with no memory of Him. Whom the mercy-seat and the overshadowing cherubim of that Ark symbolized, in their hearts. Then, to use the solemn words of the hymn of Asaph; "Then God was wroth, and greatly abhorred Israel, and forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, and delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's hand". (See Psalm 78:59-61), where the crushing defeat of Aphek and the signal victory of the Philistines are recounted in detail.


We see a terrible slaughter. The men of Israel, seeing they were losing the battle, ran every direction to get back to their homes. When they scattered out, it made it easier for the enemy to kill them. The 30,000 that died were all foot soldiers. Israel did not have chariots and horses to fight with. God was their strength in battle. This time, He was not with them, because of their sins.


1 Samuel 4:11 "And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain."


"The Ark of God was taken": In spite of their hopes to manipulate God into giving them the victory, Israel was defeated and the Ark fell into the hands of the Philistines. The view of having the Ark of God being equivalent to having control of God, possessed both by Israel and then the Philistines, is to be contrasted with the power and providence of God in the remaining narrative.


"Hophni and Phinehas": In fulfillment of (2:34 and 3:12), Eli's sons died together.


The two sons of Eli would have been near the Ark. When it was taken, they were killed. The judgment, God had spoken on them earlier, has come to pass.


1 Samuel 4:12 "And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head."


The messenger from the battle came with his "clothes rent" and with "earth upon his head," traditionally signs of mourning.


The clothes being rent and earth upon his head was a sign of extreme mourning. Shiloh is where the Ark had been in the tabernacle. Some scholars believe this Benjamite was Saul.


1 Samuel 4:13 "And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told [it], all the city cried out."


"His heart trembled for the Ark of God": Eli's concern for the Ark stands in stark contrast to his earlier actions of honoring his two sons over honoring the Lord (2:29-30; compare 4:17-18).


Somehow Eli knew this was wrong to take the Ark without God sending it. His heart trembled, not so much for his sons and the people as it did for the Ark. It appears he had sat down at the gate to await its return to Shiloh. The city cried out for the great loss of life, but they cried out even more for the loss of the Ark, which symbolized God's presence with them.


1 Samuel 4:14 "And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What [meaneth] the noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily, and told Eli."


The blind old man, we must suppose, was seated on his chair of state, surrounded by priests and Levites, who were in attendance on him as high priest and judge. As the runner drew near, and the torn dress and the dust sprinkled on his head, the symbols of disaster became visible, the wail of woe would soon run through the place. The cry of sorrow was the first intimation to the blind Eli: he was soon to hear the details. His question was probably, addressed to the little court standing by his throne. The narrative is so vivid we seem to hear the sound of the cries of grief and terror which Eli heard, and to see the scene of dismay and confusion which those sightless eyes were prevented from looking on.


It seems the man had told the people of the city first. Their moaning with grief has attracted Eli's attention. He asks for the reason for all of the crying. The man probably, had not found Eli, because he was at the gate, rather than in his usual place. The man quickly tells Eli what has happened.


1 Samuel 4:15 "Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see."


Which is very properly observed, he being now come to the end of his days, and which also accounts for his blindness after mentioned.


"And his eyes were dim, that he could not see": Could not see the messenger, and read in his countenance, and perceive by his clothes rent, and earth on his head, that he was a bringer of bad tidings; or his eyes each of them "stood"; were fixed and immovable, as the eyes of blind men be. In (1 Samuel 3:2) it is said, "his eyes began to wax dim". But here that they "were" become dim; and there might have been some years between that time and this, for Samuel then was very young, but now more grown up.


The translation of the eyes being dim here could mean that he was legally blind from cataracts. He is at a very old age, and this probably, has something to do with his blindness.


1 Samuel 4:16 "And the man said unto Eli, I [am] he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son?"


It is very probable that the people of whom Eli inquired told him there was a messenger come from the army, though they did not choose to relate to him the news he brought.


"And I fled today out of the army": So that as he was an eyewitness of what was done in the army, the account he brought was the earliest that could be had, in bringing which he had made great dispatch, having run perhaps all the way.


"And he said, what is there done, my son?" Has a battle been fought? On which side is the victory? Is Israel beaten, or have they conquered? How do things go? He uses the kind and tender appellation, "my son", to engage him to tell him all freely and openly.


Eli cannot see the man, so he has to tell Eli who he is. He explains to Eli, that he ran for his life. Eli asks the outcome of the battle.


1 Samuel 4:17 "And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken."


He delivered his account gradually, beginning with generals, and then proceeding to particulars, and with what he thought Eli could better bear the news, and so prepared him for the worst; in which he acted a wise part.


"Israel is fled before the Philistines": They have given way and retreated, and which might possibly be done without great loss, and which, though it was bad news, might not be so very bad.


"And there hath also been a great slaughter among the people": This is worse news still; however, the number of the slain is not given, nor any mention of particular persons that were killed: so that, for anything yet said, his own sons might be safe: but then it follows.


"And thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead": The news of which must be very affecting to him, and strike him closely; though he might expect and be prepared for it by what both the man of God and Samuel from the Lord had related to him.


"And the Ark of God is taken": The thing he feared, and his heart trembled before for it; this was the closing and cutting part of the account; the messenger foresaw that this would the most affect him, and therefore deferred it to the last.


Eli realizes from all of the crying of the people, that Israel has been defeated. The man tells him that both of his sons are dead. Worse than the death of his sons (which God had already warned him of), was the loss of the Ark.


1 Samuel 4:18 "And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years."


"And he died": As was the case with Hophni and Phinehas, Eli died. Thus, in fulfillment of the word of the Lord, all of the priestly line through Eli had been wiped out (2:29-34; see note on 2:31).


"He had judged Israel forty years": Over that time Eli fulfilled the office of both priest and judge in Israel.


The shock of losing the Ark was too much for Eli. Even though he had not punished his sons severely for their sinful acts in the tabernacle, he still loved the LORD. The Ark was a symbol of the LORD. He fainted or had heart failure when he heard the news of the Ark. He fell backwards and broke his neck also. He was heavy-set and the weight of his body had broken his neck. He had been judge of Israel 40 years.


1 Samuel 4:19 "And his daughter in law, Phinehas' wife, was with child, [near] to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her."


It was near her time as it was commonly expressed. Ben Gersom derives the word from a root which signifies to complete and finish; denoting that her time to bring forth was completed and filled up; though Josephus says that it was a seven months' birth, so that she came two months before her time. The margin of our Bibles is, "to cry out"; and so Moses Kimchi, as his brother relates, derives the word from a root which signifies to howl and lament, and so is expressive of a woman's crying out when her pains come upon her.


"And when she heard the tidings that the Ark of God was taken": Which is mentioned first, as being the most distressing to her.


"And that her father in law and her husband were dead": Her father-in-law Eli is put first, being the high priest of God, and so his death gave her the greatest concern, as the death of a high priest was always matter of grief to the Israelites. And then next the death of her husband, who should have succeeded him in the priesthood; for though he was a bad man, yet not so bad as Hophni, as Ben Gersom observes; and therefore, the priesthood was continued in his line unto the reign of Solomon. No notice is taken by her of the death of her brother-in-law.


"She bowed herself, and travailed": Put herself in a posture for travailing; perceiving she was coming to it, she fell upon her knees, as the word used signifies; and we are told, that the Ethiopian women, when they bring forth, fall upon their knees, and bear their young, rarely making use of a midwife, and so it seems it was the way of the Hebrew women.


"For her pains came upon her": Sooner it is very probable than otherwise they would, which is sometimes the case, when frights seize a person in such circumstances: or were "turned upon her"; they ceased, so that she could not make the necessary evacuations after the birth, which ensued in her death. Some render it, "her doors were turned", or changed; the doors of her womb (as in Job 3:10), though these had been opened for the bringing forth of her child, yet were reversed, changed, and altered, so as to prevent the after birth coming away, which caused her death.


The shock of the loss of the Ark, and the death of her husband, and father-in-law brought on premature labor.


1 Samuel 4:20 "And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast borne a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard [it]."


Her death that quickly came on after she was brought to bed.


"The women that stood by her": Who were called to her labor, and assisted in it.


"Said unto her, fear not, for thou hast born a son": Perceiving that she was very low spirited, they endeavored to cheer and comfort her, by observing to her that the worst was over; and besides she had brought forth a man child, which was usually a matter of joy to a family, and particularly to the woman that bears it, which causes her to forget the sorrows and pains she has gone through in bearing it (John 16:21).


"But she answered not, neither did she regard it"; said not one word in answer to them, nor was the least affected with joy and pleasure at what they related to her. Being not only a dying woman, on the borders of another world, and so had no relish for temporal enjoyments. But also overcome with grief with what had happened, not only to her family, but more especially to the Ark of God.


The women who attended her at the baby's birth tried to cheer her up, by telling her that she had a son. She was so near death herself that she did not respond to their news.


1 Samuel 4:21 "And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband."


The name "Ichabod" means "Where Is the Glory?" It takes its place among several Old Testament compound names that bear the common Semitic word "I" as their first element, such as Job and Jezebel. The old tradition handed down since the days of Josephus that the "I" had a negative force is doubtless incorrect.


The word "departed" carries the idea of having gone into exile. Thus, to the people of Israel, the capturing of the Ark was a symbol that God had gone into exile. Although this was the mindset of Israel, the text narrative will reveal that God was present, even when He disciplined His people (see note on Ezek. 10:18-19).


She, undoubtedly, had heard that she had a son, because she named the baby Ichabod. "Ichabod" means "where is the Glory". The spirit of the LORD had been removed from them. She was aware that Israel had caused God to remove from them. She grieved greatly over the loss of the Ark, the death of her husband and her father-in-law.


1 Samuel 4:22 "And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken."


The capture of "the Ark" signaled a problem between God and His people. Israel had fallen into apostasy and believed they could make God do their will. Even the priest and his sons were not following God's ways.


We see why she named her baby Ichabod. The glory of the LORD had been taken away because the Ark was taken by the heathen Philistines.


1 Samuel Chapter 4 Questions


1. Where did Israel pitch their tents, when they went out against the Philistines?


2. The word of Samuel is actually a Word from ________.


3. What one word shows us this is a continuation of the last chapter?


4. Why was God speaking through Samuel at this time?


5. What does "Ebenezer" mean?


6. What does "Aphek" mean?


7. How many of Israel was slain in the first battle?


8. What question did the elders ask, when they came back into the camp?


9. What did they go and bring out of Shiloh, to insure their victory?


10. Why are the blessings of God not with them?


11. They are using the Ark, as if it is what?


12. Who, probably, suggested they go get the Ark?


13. What is symbolized by the Ark?


14. Who were with the Ark?


15. Why did the Israelites shout?


16. What effect did this have on the Philistines?


17. Who were they afraid of?


18. What did the leader of the Philistines tell them to do?


19. What is the word "Gods" translated from in verse 8?


20. The plagues actually happened where?


21. What would have been worse than death for these Philistines?


22. How many Israelites died in this battle?


23. Why were they called footmen?


24. What happened to Eli's sons?


25. What happened to the Ark?


26. Where was Eli waiting for news of the battle?


27. How old was Eli at this time?


28. What happened to Eli, when he heard the bad news?


29. What happened to Eli's daughter-in-law, when she heard of the loss of the Ark and her husband's death?


30. Who named the baby?


31. What did she name him?


32. What does "Ichabod" mean?





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1 Samuel 5



1 Samuel Chapter 5

1 Samuel 5:1 "And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod."


"Ashdod" was one of the five principal Philistine cities (compare the note at Joshua 13:2-3). The other cities included: Gath (verse 8), Ekron (verse 10), Ashkelon (6:17), and Gaza (6:17), all of which were located in southwestern Canaan near the Mediterranean seacoast.


We remember, from a previous lesson, that Ebenezer was where the Israelite camp was. Now that Israel has lost the battle and the Philistines killed the priests, the Philistines have taken the Ark. The following is probably speaking of this same thing.


Psalms 78:60-64 "So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent [which] he placed among men;" "And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy's hand." "He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance." "The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage." "Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows made no lamentation."


Ashdod was one of the five most important cities of the Philistines.



Verses 2-5: "Dagon" was the father of the god Baal and was thought to supply both harvest and fertility (Judges 16:23-30). The capture of an enemy's god showed that the enemy was utterly conquered. Placing the "Ark of God," in the temple of their main god was the Philistines' way of displaying their god's supremacy. But the Lord had the final word, for He will not be mocked.


1 Samuel 5:2 "When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon."


"Dagon": Ancient literature identifies this deity as a fish god, whose image had the lower body of a fish and the upper body of a man. Dagon seems to have been the leader of the Philistine pantheon (Judges 16:23), and is noted to be the father of Baal. The placing of the Ark of God in the temple of Dagon was supposed to be a sign of Dagon's power and Yahweh's inferiority, a visual representation that the god of the Philistines was victorious over the God of the Hebrews. In addition, the textual connection of Dagon reinforces the affinity between the events written here and those in the life of Samson (Judges Chapters 13-16).


For "Dagon" (see the note on Judges 16:23).


Dagon was the Philistine false god of fertility of the earth. The statue of this false god was a man to the waist and a fish to the tail. The tail of the fish symbolized the need for water to a bountiful crop. The Ark symbolized the presence of God. To put the Ark by the side of this false god is blasphemous.


1 Samuel 5:3 "And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon [was] fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again."


"Fallen upon his face": Ironically, God Himself overturned the supposed supremacy of Dagon by having Dagon fallen over, as if paying homage to the Lord.


Even this false god, Dagon, had to bow to the presence of the One True God. The people should have realized why this happened, but they did not. They set this statue of the false god up again, at the side of the Ark. The false god had fallen down prostrate before the symbol of the LORD, the Ark.


1 Samuel 5:4 "And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon [was] fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands [were] cut off upon the threshold; only [the stump of] Dagon was left to him."


"Head ... hands were cut off": The first display of God's authority over Dagon was not perceived. God's second display of authority, the cutting off of Dagon's head and hands, was a common sign that the enemy was dead (Judges 7:25; 8:6; 1 Sam. 17:54; 31:9; 2 Sam. 4:12), and was to be understood as God's divine judgment on the false idol.


This was an interesting thing to happen. The head and the palms were not broken off, but cut off. Not only were they cut off, but placed at the entrance of the threshold, where all who entered would have to see them. This completely defames this false god. It not only destroys his existence (cut off head), but destroys any work he might do (the palms of the hands). This false god had been defamed and dismembered by the presence of the Spirit within the Ark.


1 Samuel 5:5 "Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon's house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day."


"Tread on the threshhold": Because the head and hands of Dagon fell on the threshold, superstition developed that it was cursed; therefore, the Philistines would not tread on it.


"Unto this day": This phrase supports the claim that the writer was living at a time removed from the actual event itself. This phrase and phrases equivalent to it are found throughout 1 and 2 Samuel (1 Sam. 6:18; 26:6; 30:25; 2 Sam. 4:3; 6:8: 18:18).


These evil people did not even stop worshipping this false god after this happened. They just stopped walking on the threshold of the entrance of the place they worshipped. They are so blind.



Verses 6-12: God struck the Philistines with "tumors" for stealing the Ark. The early Latin manuscripts also include statements about rats springing up all over the city (6:4), causing panic and death. Some commentators have conjectured the bubonic plague.


1 Samuel 5:6 "But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, [even] Ashdod and the coasts thereof."


"The hand of the Lord was heavy": In contrast to the hands of Dagon being cut off, symbolizing his helplessness against the power of Yahweh, the Lord was pictured to be actively involved in judging the Philistines. The imagery of God's hand is found throughout the Ark narrative (4:8; 5:6-7, 9, 11; 6:3, 5 9).


"Emerods": It has been suggested that this word refers to the sores or boils caused by an epidemic of the bubonic plague carried by rats (6:4-5). The spread of the disease and its deadly effect (5:6, 9, 12; 6:11, 17), make this a likely view.


Various conjectures have been made for the Hebrew word translated "emerods". Josephus suggested that the problem stemmed from dysentery, a suggestion also made as a marginal reading in the Hebrew text. The consonantal text reads a word meaning "swellings," "boils" or "tumors." Accordingly, most commentators since Martin Luther have held that the disease involved here was bubonic plague (see the note on 6:4-5).


This is a plague that God sent upon these evil people. "Emerods" means tumors. Some believe they were tumorous hemorrhoids. In some other places, it means eating ulcers, or the diseases of Egypt. It really does not matter what it was, it was terrible enough to kill many of them.


1 Samuel 5:7 "And when the men of Ashdod saw that [it was] so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god."


Now their eyes were opened to see that, though they had vanquished the Israelites, they could not stand before the God of Israel.


"For his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon, our god": Not the hand of the Ark, unless they took it for a god, but the hand of the God of Israel; in this they were right, and seem to have understood the case better than the other lords they after consulted. His hand was upon Dagon, as appeared his fall before the Ark and upon them by smiting with the hemorrhoids (bleeding piles known to the ancient Romans as marisca, but more probably malignant boils of an infectious and fatal character).


They have finally realized that this and the problem with their false god are because they have the Ark of God. They would like to get rid of the Ark of God and perhaps the plague will leave. They do recognize that the God of Israel has brought this upon them. It does look like they would realize that Dagon is a false god, but they do not.


1 Samuel 5:8 "They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel? And they answered, Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried about unto Gath. And they carried the ark of the God of Israel about [thither]."


"Lords of the Philistines": Refers to those men who ruled the chief Philistine cities as kings (see note on 4:1).


"Let the Ark ... be carried ... unto Gath": They seem to have been possessed with a superstitious conceit that there was something in the place which was offensive to the God of Israel, and therefore removed the Ark from Ashdod, to which and its coasts they supposed the plague, for some particular reasons, was confined. Or they thought it had come upon them by chance, or for putting the Ark into Dagon's temple, which they resolved they would not do.


"Gath": Another main Philistine city, located about 12 miles east of Ashdod (5:1).


This is another of the 5 most important cities of the Philistines. Philistia was governed by 5 princes. These 5 main cities were the headquarters of these princes. The Philistines would like to keep the Ark, as long as it is in some other city, except their own.


1 Samuel 5:9 "And it was [so], that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts."


And at last it was placed it in the city of Gath.


"The hand of the Lord was against the city with a very great destruction": Greater than that at Ashdod, more persons were destroyed; the distemper sent among them was more epidemic and mortal.


"And he smote the men of the city, both small and great": High and low, persons of every class, rank, and station, young and old, men, women, and children.


They had emerods in their secret (or hidden) parts, That is, internally, in their hinder parts; which is the worst kind of emerods, as all physicians acknowledge, both because their pains are far more sharp than those of the other kind, and because the malady is more out of the reach of remedies (for emerods, see verse 7 notes for hemorrhoids).


These tumors that the men of the city of Gath got when they moved the Ark there were just as terrible as they had been in the last city. This plague was definitely caused by the presence of the Ark in their city. They have committed a terrible sin by taking the Ark.


1 Samuel 5:10 "Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. And it came to pass, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, They have brought about the ark of the God of Israel to us, to slay us and our people."


"Ekron": With judgment on Gath, the Philistines sent the Ark away to the next main city to see if God was behind their calamity. Located about 6 miles north of Gath, it was the closest major Philistine city to Israel's border.


"The Ark ... to slay us": The cry of the Ekronites was an admission that the Philistines had gotten the message that God was the source of their troubles. It is curious that the Philistines knew of God's power to smite the Egyptians (4:8), yet they proudly believe themselves stronger than Egypt. The severity of the plagues grew increasingly worse (in verses 6-12), corresponding with the failure of the Philistines to humble themselves before God. Their actions were very similar to those of the Egyptians (Exodus Chapters 5-14).


This is the third of the five important cities of the Philistines. It was no different here. The people began to cry out for the Ark to be removed from their city. They are afraid of the Ark. They are aware that the power the Ark represented; was more powerful than they could handle.


1 Samuel 5:11 "So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to his own place, that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there."


As the men of Ashdod had done before for the same reason (see 1 Samuel 5:8).


"And said, send away the Ark of the God of Israel": As these lords were united in their government, and made one common cause of it against Israel, one could not dispose of this capture without the consent of the rest; otherwise the lord of Ekron, with his princes, were clearly in it that it was right and best to send it away out of any of their principalities.


"And let it go again to its own place": To the land of Israel and Shiloh there, though to that it never returned more.


"That it slay us not, and our people": That is, all of them, for great numbers had been slain already, as follows.


"For there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city": A mortal disease went through the whole city, and swept away a multitude of people.


"The hand of God was very heavy there": It seems by the expression to haste been heavier on the inhabitants of this city than upon those of Ashdod and Gath, which made them the more pressing to get rid of the Ark.


There was death and the plague in every city where the Ark went. Now, they have called all the princes together to get permission to send the Ark back to the Israelites. There were many dying from the plague and those who lived had the emerods.


1 Samuel 5:12 "And the men that died not were smitten with the emerods: and the cry of the city went up to heaven."


Smitten with either some plague or ulcer as may be thought from verse 6; or of the emerods; which infested and tormented even those whom it did not kill.


"The cry of the city": Or, of that city where the Ark was; and the city is put for the people inhabiting it.


"And the cry of the city went up to heaven": Not that it was heard and regarded there, but the phrase is used to denote the greatness of it, how exceeding loud and clamorous it was; partly on the account of the death of so many of the inhabitants, their relations and friends; and partly because of the intolerable pain they endured through the emerods.


This was a cry of despair. It was a cry for help. Their false god could not help them against God. The prince of Ekron does not want the Ark. He wants to send it home and stop the plague.


1 Samuel Chapter 5 Questions


1. Where did the Philistines first take the Ark?


2. Ashdod was one of the ________ most important cities of the Philistines.


3. Where did they put the Ark for keeping?


4. Dagon was the false god of ____________.


5. What did it look like?


6. What did the fish part of the statue symbolize?


7. The Ark symbolized the presence of ________.


8. When those of Ashdod arose the next morning, what did they find?


9. Even this false god, Dagon, had to bow to ________.


10. After they set the statue of the false god back up, what did they find the second day?


11. Where were the palms of the hands found?


12. The false god had been ___________ and ______________ by the presence of the Spirit within the Ark.


13. What do the priests and the Philistines do even today, when they go to the temple of their false god?


14. What plague did God send on Ashdod?


15. What does "Emerods" mean?


16. How bad was the plague?


17. What conclusion did the people of Ashdod come to about the Ark?


18. Where did they send it next?


19. What happened there?


20. Where was the third place they sent the Ark?


21. What did the people there cry out?


22. Why did all the lords of the Philistines gather for a meeting?


23. What happened everywhere the Ark went?





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1 Samuel 6



1 Samuel Chapter 6

Verses 1-5: The Philistine "priests and diviners," tasked with determining how to ease the heavy hand of God on their people (5:11), ultimately devised a plan for returning the Ark to its rightful "place" in Israel.


1 Samuel 6:1 "And the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months."


Seven months the Philistines were punished with the presence of the Ark; so long it was a plague to them, because they would not send it home sooner. Sinners lengthen out their own miseries by refusing to part with their sins. The Israelites made no effort to recover the Ark. Alas! Where shall we find concern for religion that prevails above all other matters? In times of public calamity, we fear for ourselves, for our families, and for our country; but who cares for the Ark of God? We are favored with the gospel, but it is treated with neglect or contempt.


We need not wonder if it should be taken from us; too many persons, though the weight of calamities, would occasion no grief. There are multitudes that any profession would please as well as that of Christianity. But there are those who value the house, the word, and the ministry of God above their richest possessions, who dread the loss of these blessings more than death. How willing bad men are to shift off their convictions, and when they are in trouble, to believe it is a chance that happens. And that the rod has no voice which they should hear or heed!


The number "seven" means spiritually complete. The country of the Philistines means in the possession of the Philistines. They moved it from place to place. Everywhere it was taken, the people were stricken with emerods.


1 Samuel 6:2 "And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the LORD? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place."


"The priests and the diviners": These men of the Philistines, specifically identified in Scripture as having notable fame (Isa. 2:6), were summoned to figure out how to appease God so that He would stop the plague.


"Send it to his place": The Philistines understood that they had offended God. Their diviners decided to rightfully appease His wrath by sending the Ark back to Israel.


They have realized that the God of the Israelites, who this Ark represents, is too much for them and they want to get rid of it. They must however, be careful how they dispose of it. Diviners were there to tell them when would be the luckiest time for them to move it. "Diviners" were those who sat with the prophet and the elder. They are forbidden to Christians. The priests would decide just how they would return the Ark. The princes wanted to return it to the Israelites before it killed all of the Philistines.


1 Samuel 6:3 "And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall be known to you why his hand is not removed from you."


"Trespass offering": The purpose behind this offering was to both acknowledge and compensate for their trespass of dishonoring the God of Israel. These pagans recognized their sin and the need for manifest repentance, which they did according to their religious tradition by means of consecrated trespass or guilt offerings.


The trespass offering was given when a sin had been committed unintentionally. We must realize that, they would not have taken the Ark, had they known the trouble they would have had from taking it. They have decided to load gifts into the Ark to send back. The priests believe the people will be healed of the emerods the moment they send the Ark back. If they are not healed when the Ark leaves, then it was not God that brought the plague.



Verses 4-5: "Five Golden emerods" (or tumors), and "five golden mice" were made, one for each of the five "lords" of the five Philistine cities. Perhaps the Philistines thought that the making of the golden figures would heal the Philistines of the problems in the physical world that corresponded to them via sympathetic magic. They may also have constituted a compensatory payment to Israel's God. The linking of tumors and mice is significant and may point to the existence of bubonic plague in the area. If so, it attests to the careful observation of the whole problem by the people of ancient Canaan.


1 Samuel 6:4 "Then said they, What [shall be] the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, [according to] the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague [was] on you all, and on your lords."


"Five golden emerods, and five golden mice": It was their custom to make models of their sores (and the mice which brought the plague), in hopes that the deity would recognize that they knew why he was angry and remove the evil which had fallen upon them. The context (of verse 17), suggests that the items were in the writer's presence at the time the account was recorded. The number 5 represents each of the Philistine cities and lords affected by God's judgment.


This indicates there must have been a plague of mice as well as the emerods. It also indicates that everyone had the problem, because it says (on you all). The five mice made of gold and the five emerods made of gold were to be sent away with the Ark. In a sense, it was as if they were containing the plague to be sent away. There were five of each because there were five princes.


1 Samuel 6:5 "Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land."


"Give glory unto the God of Israel ... he will lighten his hand": While sympathetic magic was the Philistine custom, this statement expressly affirms the intention behind the offerings: They were to halt the dishonor, confess their sin and give glory to the God of Israel by acknowledging who it was that they had offended and who was the supreme Deity.


We see in this, a recognition that the God of Israel is far too great for them or their false gods to handle. It is possible, that the mice were a symbol of the plague, and not necessarily a literal overrun of mice.


1 Samuel 6:6 "Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?"


"Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts": The diviners correlate the Philistines' actions of not recognizing God with those of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. This is the same word "harden" that was used (in Exodus 7:14; 8:15, 32). It is an interesting correlation, because the dominant purpose in Exodus Chapters 5-14 is that the Egyptians might "know that I am the Lord" (Exodus 7:5).


Someone is very familiar with the plagues that came on Egypt, when the Pharaoh would not let the people go. They are even aware that the hardness of the Pharaoh's heart is what brought worse and worse plagues on Egypt, until in the end he did let the people go. This is saying, let's not harden our hearts and have more plagues worse than the one we have.



Verses 7-12: It is unlikely that untrained "milk cows" could pull a cart together, and if they did, they would seek to return to their calves. For the cows to pull toward Israel ("Beth-shemesh" was one of its Levitical cities), would prove God was miraculously at work.


1 Samuel 6:7 "Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke, and tie the kine to the cart, and bring their calves home from them:"


"On which there hath come no yoke": To know without a doubt that the God of Israel was behind all of their troubles, the diviners devised a plan that would reveal whether God was the One responsible. Using cows which had "never been yoked" meant using animals that were untrained to pull a cart and probably would not go anywhere.


"Bring their calves home from them": The second element in their plan was to use nursing cows taken away from their calves. For the cows unnaturally to head off in the opposite direction from their calves would be a clear sign that the cause of their judgment was supernatural.


That cows should leave their suckling calves to go to Israelite territory would signify to the Philistines that their problems had come as a judgment from the God of Israel.


This is just saying this must be a new cart that had never had a load on it before. The milk cows were to be untrained to the yoke. They will take their calves off them, so they will not follow the milk cows.


1 Samuel 6:8 "And take the ark of the LORD, and lay it upon the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which ye return him [for] a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go."


"And lay it upon the cart": Which God winked at in them, both because they were ignorant of God's law to the contrary, and because they had no Levites to carry it upon their shoulders.


"In a coffer by the side thereof": For they dared not presume to open the Ark, to put them within it.


They do not open the Ark. They put the trespass offering of gold in a separate container beside the Ark on the cart. They were actually afraid of the Ark. "Send it away" means there would be no one leading the cart on which the Ark sat.


1 Samuel 6:9 "And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Beth-shemesh, [then] he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that [it is] not his hand [that] smote us: it [was] a chance [that] happened to us."


"Beth-shemesh": Named "house of the sun" and located in the Sorek Valley, this was a Levitical city about 15 miles west of Jerusalem. Originally designated for the descendants of Aaron (Joshua 21:16), it was chosen to be the destination of the cows pulling the cart.


This will be one more sign to these people, that the God of Israel brought the plague upon them for taking the Ark. If it goes home, it is God. If it does not go home, but stays with them, it will be a sign that this plague was just something that would have happened anyway even without the Ark. The Philistines did not understand about the God of Israel and they began to regard the Ark itself as God. Beth-shemesh was now in the hands of Judah. It was a city of the priests.


1 Samuel 6:10 "And the men did so; and took two milch kine, and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home:"


Made a new cart; not the lords of the Philistines, but workmen by their orders.


"And took two milch kine, and tied them to the cart": With the gear that horses, asses, or oxen, were usually fastened to a carriage they drew.


"And shut up their calves at home": Or, "in the house"; the cow house or stable where they used to be put; this they did to restrain them from following the cows, which would disturb them in drawing the cart.


1 Samuel 6:11 "And they laid the ark of the LORD upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods."


Perhaps the same men that made the cart; however they were the Philistines, yet were not punished for touching it, as Uzziah was, though an Israelite (2 Sam. 6:6).


"And the coffer with the mice of gold, and the images of their emerods": Which coffer was placed in a purse or bag hung at the side of the Ark, with the golden mice and emerods in it.


This just means they took the advice of their priests and did as they suggested.


1 Samuel 6:12 "And the kine took the straight way to the way of Beth-shemesh, [and] went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside [to] the right hand or [to] the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Beth-shemesh."


"Lowing as they went": With the moaning from instinctive unwillingness to leave their calves behind, the cows went straight to Beth-shemesh, not turning to the right or left, leaving the inescapable conclusion that God had judged them.


There was no one leading these milk cows. They went directly to Beth-shemesh leaving no doubt that this was indeed, the LORD who had sent this plague to them. The lords of the Philistines did not want to take someone else's word that they went there without someone leading them. They followed to see for themselves what would happen.


1 Samuel 6:13 "And [they of] Beth-shemesh [were] reaping their wheat harvest in the valley: and they lifted up their eyes, and saw the ark, and rejoiced to see [it]."


"Reaping their wheat harvest": Sometime in June. These harvests were accomplished with the whole city participating.


This was at the time of the wheat harvest. Everyone was in the field harvesting the wheat. They had been without the Ark for seven months and are thrilled that it is back. The Ark symbolized the presence of God to the Israelites. They felt when the Ark was there, God was residing with them.


1 Samuel 6:14 "And the cart came into the field of Joshua, a Beth-shemite, and stood there, where [there was] a great stone: and they clave the wood of the cart, and offered the kine a burnt offering unto the LORD."


"Joshua, a Beth-shemite": The cows stopped in the field of Joshua, where there was a large stone which was verifiable to the writer at the time the account was written.


"Burnt offering": Because the cows and cart were used for sacred purposes, they could not be used for normal everyday purposes. Therefore, the men of Beth-shemesh sacrificed the cows using the cart for the fire.


The "they" that broke up the cart for firewood would, possibly, have been the priests; because no one was to touch the Ark but those appointed of God for that job. This great stone was a natural altar. The milk cows were the offering. This would have been an unusual offering. Usually the male was offered and it must be a young animal.


1 Samuel 6:15 "And the Levites took down the ark of the LORD, and the coffer that [was] with it, wherein the jewels of gold [were], and put [them] on the great stone: and the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices the same day unto the LORD."


"Levites": the men of Beth-shemesh, being Levites, were qualified to move the Ark.


"Put them on the great stone": The stone mentioned was used as a pedestal for both the items of gold and the ark. At the time the account was written, it stood as a witness that God had returned to the land.


This was a Levitical city so the people, as well as the priest, should be well acquainted with the law. The offerings must also be done by the priest. Some of the things they were doing, even with the offering, were not in full keeping of the law. They were, however, overjoyed at the return of the Ark. This offering was acceptable to the LORD because of their attitude.


1 Samuel 6:16 "And when the five lords of the Philistines had seen [it], they returned to Ekron the same day."


"Five lords of the Philistines": The lords of the Philistines, upon seeing that the Ark arrived safely, returned to Ekron.


We remember these five lords of the Philistines had come to see with their own eyes that the Ark had gone to Beth-shemesh. They have stayed a little way off so as not to be captured. They went back to Ekron to tell the news.


1 Samuel 6:17 "And these [are] the golden emerods which the Philistines returned [for] a trespass offering unto the LORD; for Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Askelon one, for Gath one, for Ekron one;"


These were returned along with the Ark.


"For Ashdod one, for Gaza one, for Ashkelon, one, for Gath one, for Ekron one": Which were the five principalities of the Philistines that belonged to the five lords before mentioned; and each of these were at the expense of a golden emerod, and sent it along with the Ark to make atonement for the offence they had been guilty of in taking and detaining it.


These five cities had five princes who headed them. They represented the entire Philistine people. It is interesting to me, that the number "five" means grace. It is the grace of God that saves any of us.


1 Samuel 6:18 "And the golden mice, [according to] the number of all the cities of the Philistines [belonging] to the five lords, [both] of fenced cities, and of country villages, even unto the great [stone of] Abel, whereon they set down the ark of the LORD: [which stone remaineth] unto this day in the field of Joshua, the Beth-shemite."


That is, as many golden mice as there were cities under the jurisdiction of the five lords, which are the same before mentioned: both of fenced cities and of country villages; walled and un-walled towns. It seems by this, as it was but reasonable it should be that the several villages adjacent and belonging to the five principal cities contributed their part towards the expense of the five golden emerods, and five golden mice. Since they were afflicted both in their persons; but especially in their fields as well as those in the cities.


"All the cities": This was either to show that under the name of the five cities were comprehended all the villages and territories belonging to them, in whose name and at whose charge these presents were made. Or to express the difference between this and the former present, the emerods being only five, according to the five cities mentioned (1 Sam. 6:17), because it may seem the cities only, or principally, were pestered with that disease.


"The great stone of Abel": Which is mentioned as the utmost border of the Philistines' territory to which the plague of mice did extend; the word stone being easily understood out of (1 Samuel 6:14), where this great stone is expressly mentioned, as the place on which the Ark was set.


In the trespass offering, they were saying that they unknowingly sinned against God. It seemed that the mice of gold were more than five because each little village sent a golden mouse. They tried to all participate in the trespass offering. The stone that the Israelites offered on here was memorialized and kept as a reminder of this happening.


1 Samuel 6:19 "And he smote the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten [many] of the people with a great slaughter."


This action on the part of the men of Beth-shemesh constituted the sin of presumption. This is first addressed (in Num. 4:20 and is mentioned again in 2 Sam. 6:6-7).


The presumptuous mishandling of the "Ark" was inexcusable for men from a priestly city (Num. 4:5-6, 15-20). To mishandle, abuse, or violate the sanctity of the Ark was a grievous sin (2 Sam. 6:6-8).


It seemed that, after they sacrificed to God, they got curious and opened the ark and looked in. Even the Philistines were smarter than that, and they did not know the law. Everyone who looked into the ark was killed. This was forbidden and they knew that it was forbidden. The punishment for a sin in full knowledge is greater than a sin of ignorance. They were sorrowful after it happened. They were lamenting for the dead not repenting of the sin.


1 Samuel 6:20 "And the men of Beth-shemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? and to whom shall he go up from us?"


"Who is able to stand before ... God": This question climaxes the narrative of the ark. No one is able to stand against God's judgment. This applied to the people outside the covenant as well as those under the covenant. Presumption before God is unacceptable.


"To whom shall he go": The expression was used to denote the desire to take the Ark away from them.


The answer is no one. This was a city of priests, who should have known better than to look into the Ark. This is possibly why the punishment is so severe. This group of priests was trying to get someone to take the Ark. This is so sad, since this is where God had it sent from the Philistines. It is as if they are blaming God for what happened. It was their sin of looking into the Ark which caused the deaths. They do not want to take the blame for their own sins.


1 Samuel 6:21 "And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath-jearim, saying, The Philistines have brought again the ark of the LORD; come ye down, [and] fetch it up to you."


"Kirjath-jearim" was a fortified city that originally belonged to the Gibeonites. It is first mentioned as a member of a Gibeonite confederation of four fortress cities which also included Gibeon, Chephirah, and Beeroth (Joshua 9:17). Kirjath-jearim was also known as Baalah (Joshua 15:9), Baale of Judah (2 Sam. 6:2), Kirjath-baal (Joshua 15:60), and Kirjath (Joshua 18:28). These names suggest it was an old Canaanite "high place," a place of idolatrous worship.


The city was originally assigned to the tribe of Judah (Joshua 15:60), and later given to Benjamin (Joshua 18:14-15, 28). Kirjath-jearim was on the western part of the boundary line between Judah and Benjamin (Joshua 15:9). When the Ark of the Covenant was returned by the Philistines it was brought to this city (7:1-2). The Ark remained here for 20 years, and it was from Kirjath-jearim that David transported the Ark to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6:2-3). Kirjath-jearim has been tentatively identified with the area of Abu Ghosh about eight miles northwest of Jerusalem on the Jaffa Road.


This city was possibly chosen, because it was the nearest city of any size. "Kirjath-jearim" means city of forests. This was not a true statement. The Philistines had not brought it. They had loosed it and it had come home. This is a Gibeonite town first assigned to Judah. Afterward it went to Benjamin.


1 Samuel Chapter 6 Questions


1. The Ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines _______ months.


2. What does the number "seven" mean?


3. Everywhere the people took the Ark; the people were stricken with ___________.


4. Who did the Philistines call together, to decide what to do about the Ark?


5. What is a "diviner"?


6. Why did the princes want to return the Ark to the Israelites?


7. What did they decide should be sent back with the Ark?


8. The __________ offering was given, when a sin had been committed unintentionally.


9. What was the trespass offering they were to send back?


10. What were the mice made of?


11. How do we know the plague was on everyone?


12. How many emerods made of gold did they send?


13. What did the sending of the emerods away to Israel symbolize?


14. What are the Philistines admitting about God, when they send the offering with the Ark to Israel?


15. What did the Philistines know about the plagues in Egypt?


16. What would they carry the Ark on?


17. What would pull the cart?


18. What would be absolute proof to these people, if this plague was from God, or not?


19. Where does the cart go?


20. What were the people doing, when they looked up, and saw the Ark coming?


21. What did the Ark symbolize?


22. This great stone was a natural _________.


23. Why was this a good choice of cities for the Ark to come to?


24. Who had followed the Ark, to see where the milk cows took it?


25. What were the Philistines saying with the trespass offering?


26. What did the Israelites do with the milk cows that pulled the cart?


27. Who is able to stand before the holy LORD God?


28. Where was the Ark sent next?


29. What does the name of the city mean?





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1 Samuel 7



1 Samuel Chapter 7

Verses 1-2: Significantly, the "Ark" was not returned to Shiloh from which it had been taken into battle (4:4). Archaeological evidence suggests that Shiloh may have been destroyed in the campaigning, hence the Ark was taken to "Kirjath-jearim," situated northwest of Jerusalem, where it remained until David brought it to Jerusalem (2 Sam. 6).


1 Samuel 7:1 "And the men of Kirjath-jearim 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."


The Israelites brought the ark to "Kirjath-jearim rather than to Shiloh because the Philistines had destroyed Shiloh.


The house of Abinadab in the hill is, probably, the same as Gibeah. They had an entirely different attitude. The Ark was handled with great respect by just the Levites. This Abinadab was a Levite and his son Eleazar, was sanctified to take care of the Ark.



Verses 2-4: After 20 years of silence from on high, the Israelites truly repented. Putting away the images of the "Baals and the Ashtoreths" signified their turn from idolatrous worship and back "to the Lord". Ashtoreth was the Canaanite goddess of fertility (Joshua 24:23; Judges 2:13; 10:16).


1 Samuel 7:2 "And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjath-jearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD."


"Twenty years" (coupled with verse 3), the 20 years designated the period Israel neglected God and chased after foreign gods. After those 20 years, Israel returned to the Lord.


This was a long 20 years. It seemed the Philistines were still very powerful opponents of the Israelites. There was not a national worship going on at this time. It appears, the Ark abode there with very little worship going on. During this time, Samuel is trying to get the people to repent of their evil. There needed to be a national repentance, before the LORD would bless Israel again. They were sad and lamenting their separation from the LORD's blessings, but they were not repenting.



Verses 3-4: For "Ashtaroth" and "Balaam" (see the note on Judges 2:11-15).


1 Samuel 7:3 "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."


"Return unto the Lord with all your hearts ... He will deliver you": This statement recalls the cycle in the book of judges: apostasy, oppression, repentance and deliverance. It previews the contents of this chapter.


It seemed that Samuel was a lone voice crying out for the nation to repent. They needed to stop lamenting and start doing what would put them in good standing with God. They still worshipped their false gods and specifically Ashteroth. They must have a total change of heart. The following is a promise to the people from God.


2 Chronicles 7:14 "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."


This is not true just for these Israelites; it is true in our day as well. God will always deliver His people, if they will put 100% of their trust in Him.


1 Samuel 7:4 "Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only."


"Baalim and Ashtaroth": Most dominant of the Canaanite pantheon, these deities were the fertility gods which plagued Israel. "Baal" and "Ashtaroth" are plurals of majesty, which signify their supreme authority over other Canaanite deities. Ashtaroth represented the female goddess, while Baal represented the male sky god who fertilized the land.


Finally it appears; they did put away their false gods and served the LORD only. Baal and Ashteroth were the national false gods of the Philistines. This in effect was a statement against the Philistines, as well as the false gods.


1 Samuel 7:5 "And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you unto the LORD."


"Mizpeh" (Mizpah) was a city of Benjamin in the region of Geba and Ramah about eight miles north of Jerusalem (1 Kings 15:22). Samuel assembled the Israelites for prayer at Mizpeh after the Ark of the Covenant was returned from Kirjath-jearim (verses 5-6). Saul was first presented to Israel as king at this city (10:17, 24). Mizpeh was also one of the places that Samuel visited on his annual circuit to judge Israel (verses 16-17). Mizpah was one of the sites fortified against the kings of the northern tribes of Israel by King Asa (1 Kings 15:22). After the destruction of Jerusalem (in 586 B.C.), Gedaliah was appointed governor and his residence was at Mizpah (2 Kings 25:23, 25). At this time, Mizpah became the capital of the Babylonian province of Judah. After the Babylonian captivity, Mizpah was re-inhabited by Israelites (Neh. 3:7, 15, 19).


"I will pray": Samuel was a man of prayer (7:8-9; 8:6, 12:19, 23; 15:11).


Mizpeh was up on a high hill. We said, in the verse above, to denounce the false gods of the Philistine was a revolt against the Philistines. "Mizpeh" means watch tower. This was a high area where they could see their enemy coming.


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."


"Drew water, and poured it out before the Lord": The pouring out of water before the Lord was a sign of repentance. This act is repeated (in 2 Sam. 23:16).


"We have sinned against the Lord": The symbol of Samuel pouring out the water and the acknowledgment of the people reveal a situation where true repentance had taken place. The condition of the heart superseded the importance or righteousness of the ritual.


"Samuel judged": At this point Samuel is introduced as the judge of Israel. His judgeship encompassed both domestic leadership and the conduct of war. The word links the text back to the last comment about Eli who judged 40 years (4:18). Samuel is known to be the one taking over Eli's judgeship. He served as the last judge before the first king (1 Sam. 8:5).


The pouring out of water symbolized a repentant heart "Poured" out in submission and personal trust before God (Psalm 62:8; Lam. 2:19). This was an act of self-denial and humility. It signified pouring out their hearts and, along with the whole burnt offering (in 7:9), complete repentance.


The "pouring out of the water" symbolized their sorrow for the sins they had committed. They fasted and dedicated themselves again to the LORD. Samuel had been a prophet and now, he is a judge of Israel. In fact, he is the last of the judges. Samuel would be their leader against the Philistines.


1 Samuel 7:7 "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."


"Israel ... afraid of the Philistines": When Israel hear that the Philistines had come up against them for war, they were afraid.


The Israelites gathering at Mizpeh was so great a number of people that the Philistines heard of it and came against Israel. These Israelites still had not learned to put their total trust in the LORD. They were afraid, when they heard the Philistines were coming.


1 Samuel 7:8 "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."


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 so numerous, or so well equipped.


"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 tyrannized over them.


They call out to God to save them. They know that Samuel is in good standing with the LORD, so they ask him to pray for them to the LORD. Their only hope is in the LORD, because the Philistines have a mighty army.


1 Samuel 7:9 "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."


After a lamb was eight days old, it was fit to be sacrificed to God (Exodus 22:30; Lev. 22:27).


"And offered it for a burnt-offering": For though he was not a priest, nor this place appointed for sacrifice, yet as a prophet he had authority from God to build an altar anywhere and offer sacrifices. Thus, other holy men, Gideon and Manoah, were warranted to offer extraordinary sacrifices, in places which God had not before appointed. And thus, we read of an altar he built in another place (1 Sam. 7:17), as Elijah did in following times.


"And Samuel 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.


"And the Lord heard him": Probably God answered Samuel as he did Manoah, by sending fire from heaven to consume the sacrifice, in testimony of his acceptance of it.


Notice the difference in the offering here, from when they offered the two milk cows. This was an offering, pleasing unto the LORD. The lamb was at least 7 days old or older, but was still a baby. Samuel is acting in the office of priest in this situation. He prays for the people to the LORD and the LORD hears and answers him.


1 Samuel 7:10 "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."


"The Lord thundered ... upon the Philistines": In a literal manner, the Lord did to His enemies what was said by Hannah in her prayer (2:10).


For "thunder" as a sign of the divine presence (see the note on Judges 5:19-21; compare 1 Samuel 2:10).


We see from this, that the Philistines were almost in the camp before the lamb finished burning. The LORD brought a thunderstorm of great magnitude on the Philistines, just as they were about to enter the camp. It was probably accompanied by lightning. Many were killed, and many others turned to run. They knew this attack was from the LORD.


1 Samuel 7:11 "And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until [they came] under Beth-car."


To which they were encouraged by hearing or perceiving that the army of the Philistines was discomfited by the thunder, and lightning, and earthquake.


"And pursued the Philistines": Who, when they came out, were fleeing from the opening earth, and frightened with thunder and lightning, and many were killed, and all put in disorder; so that they stayed not to engage in battle with Israel, and who had nothing to do but to pursue their enemy.


"And smote them": With what weapons of war they could get at Mizpeh, and with what some might have with them for private use, and in common wear; but more especially with the weapons of the Philistines, which they in their confusion and fright had thrown away.


"Until they came under Beth-car": A place so called; "car" signifies a lamb; here might be formerly a temple dedicated to the lamb, unless it had its name in memory of the lamb Samuel now offered, which was followed with such success. Josephus calls this place Corraea; and in the Targum it is Bethsaron, which signifies a fruitful field or champaign country.


It appears the LORD had killed so many that the others headed away from the hill. Just as they did so, Samuel sent the Israelites down on them with great force. The word "under" indicates that Beth-car was a place of safety like a cave.


1 Samuel 7:12 "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."


The Israelites recognized that their victory really came from God. A different location from the one mentioned (in 4:1 and 5:1). The name functions as the literary knot for the two ends of this unit (see note on 4:1).


"Hitherto hath the Lord helped us": This expression means that the Lord was the One responsible for getting Israel to this point. He was Israel's Sovereign One in times of both faithfulness and rebellion. He fought the battles and provided the blessings.


"Ebenezer" means help stone, or stone of help. The stone was a memorial for the help the LORD had given them in battle.


1 Samuel 7:13 "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."


"They came no more into the cost of Israel": The Lord gave Israel the victory over the Philistines, discontinuing their threat for the immediate future during Samuel's judgeship.


"All the days of Samuel": As the section opened (in 4:1), with Samuel pictured as God's agent, so here the section closed with the Lord working powerfully through all the days of Samuel.


The Philistines are not annihilated. They are subdued. In other words, they do not come against Israel again during the time of Samuel. The LORD fought for Israel while Samuel was alive.



Verses 14-17: "Amorites" is used here as a general term for all the various groups of the native Canaanite population. The Israelites at last achieved peace with both the Canaanites and Philistines, due to the godly leadership of "Samuel," Israel's last judge.


1 Samuel 7:14 "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."


"Ekron ... unto Gath": These two cities, mentioned earlier as chief Philistine cities (5:8, 10), became the eastern border of the Philistines. The territory to the east of these cities was freed from Philistine control and returned to Israel.


"Amorites": Whereas the Philistines resided in the coastal plains, the Amorites resided in the hills west of Israel between the Jordan Valley and the coastal plain. As with the Philistines, Israel was at peace with the Amorites.


We remember these cities had been counted in the 5 most important cities of the Philistines. It perhaps means they are on the border of the Israelite territory. The Israelites and the Amorites are friendly during this time. They both have the mutual enemy of the Philistines.


1 Samuel 7:15 "And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life."


The influence and supreme power of Samuel only ended with his life. For a very long period, probably for at least twenty years after the decisive battle of Ebenezer, Samuel, as "judge," exercised the chief authority in Israel. The time at length arrived when, convinced by clear Divine monition that it was best for the people that a king should rule over them, Samuel the seer, then advanced in years voluntarily laid down his high office in favor of the new king, Saul. But his influence remained, and his authority, whenever he chose to exercise it, seems to have continued undiminished, and on momentous occasions. See for instance (1 Sam. 15:33), we find king and nation submitting to his counsel and expressed will.


We remember that Samuel had been dedicated to the LORD by his mother Hannah, even before he was born. He stayed in the service of the LORD until his death.


1 Samuel 7:16 "And he went from year to year in circuit to Beth-el, and Gilgal, and Mizpeh, and judged Israel in all those places."


"In circuit": The circuit was an annual trip made by Samuel; he would travel to Bethel, Gilgal, Mizpah, and return once again to Ramah, which allowed him to manage the affairs of the people.


He was like the supreme judge of these people. He went from city to city, judging the things too difficult for their local leaders to decide.


1 Samuel 7:17 "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."


"Ramah" was the name of several sites in ancient Israel, the most famous of which was known as Ramah of Ephraim. It may be identified with the Arimathea of the New Testament (Matt. 25:57; John 19:38), and with modern Rentis, about 18 miles east of Joppa and northwest of Jerusalem. This Ramah was likely the birthplace, home and burial place of the prophet Samuel (verse 17; 19:18-23, 28:3), elsewhere referred to as Ramathaim-zophim (1:1). At Ramah, the elders of Israel demanded a king (8:4-5), Saul first met Samuel (9:6, 10), and David sought refuge from Saul (19:18: 20:1).


The first major division of the book (1:1 - 7:17), ends with Samuel returning to Ramah to judge the people.


Ramah was the home of his father and mother. His father Elkanah had been wealthy and owned much land. It appears that some of the inheritance went to Samuel and he lived in Ramah. He built an altar there on his own land it seems. He built a home and lived in Ramah. Samuel lived his entire life in the service of the LORD. We do not read of Samuel doing anything which would be displeasing to the LORD


1 Samuel Chapter 7 Questions


1. Where did the men come from to get the Ark?


2. What is, probably, the same as Gibeah?


3. How was the Ark handled?


4. Who was sanctified to take care of the Ark?


5. How long did the Ark remain in Kirjath-jearim?


6. The house of Israel lamented for the _________.


7. Who is trying to get the people to repent, and turn to the LORD?


8. What was the main thing they must do, to show they have turned to the LORD?


9. What were the names of the two false gods they did put away?


10. Turning from these false gods was a statement against the _______________.


11. Where did Samuel tell them to gather all Israel?


12. What does the name mean?


13. What did they do at Mizpeh, in the way of worship?


14. What did the pouring out of the water symbolize?


15. __________ would be their leader against the Philistines.


16. What did the Philistines do, when they heard about Israel meeting at Mizpeh?


17. How did the Israelites feel, when they knew the Philistines were coming?


18. What did they ask Samuel to do for them?


19. What did Samuel sacrifice to the LORD?


20. Samuel is acting in the office of _________ here.


21. What did the LORD do to fight for Israel?


22. What does "Ebenezer" mean?


23. Who became friends with Israel?


24. How long did Samuel judge Israel?


25. What did Samuel judge?


26. Where did Samuel return home to?


27. Samuel got his land from _____________.





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1 Samuel 8



1 Samuel Chapter 8

Verses 8:1 - 15:35: This division of the book concentrates on the interaction between Israel, Samuel and Saul. These chapters begin with the elders of Israel coming to Samuel at Ramah (8:4), and conclude with Samuel's leaving Saul and returning to Ramah (15:34).


Verses 8:1 - 12:25: Describe the establishment of the kingship over the nation of Israel and the advent of Saul as the first king. These chapters are linked by reference to Samuel's being old (8:1; 12:2), and listening to "the voice of the people" (8:7, 9, 22; 12:1, 14-15).


Chapters 13:1-15:35 recount the failures of Saul as king over Israel. The events of these chapters are bracketed by two interactions between Saul and Samuel that both take place in Gilgal (13:4, 7-8, 12, 15; 15:12, 21, 33).


1 Samuel 8:1 "And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel."


"Samuel was old": Samuel was about 60 years of age (1043 B.C.). He appointed his two sons to serve as judges in Beer-sheba, a city about 57 miles south of Ramah.


The question is, how old is old here. Some have placed his age at just over 50 years of age here. Other scholars have placed his age at as much as 70. It is not an unnatural thing for a father to delegate some of his work to his sons when they become old enough to handle the job.


1 Samuel 8:2 "Now the name of his firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: [they were] judges in Beer-sheba."


"Joel": The name means "the Lord is God." "Abiah: the name means "my Father is the Lord."


Many times in the Old Testament, the meaning of people's names enter into the meaning of the Scripture. We can tell from these names that Samuel was fully aware of who the LORD was. He had named his sons with names that expressed the way he felt about the LORD. Beer-sheba was in the land of Judah not far from Ramah where Samuel lived.


1 Samuel 8:3 "And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment."


Like Eli before him, Samuel was too preoccupied with his ministry to properly oversee the spiritual upbringing of his own children.


"His sons walked not in his ways": The perverted desire for riches led Samuel's sons to take bribes and thereby pervert justice. These actions were strictly forbidden for judges (in Deut. 16:19). The sins of Samuel's sons became the pretext for Israel's demand for a king (verses 4-5).


Taking bribes was strictly forbidden. The Israelites prided themselves on the fairness of their judgments. This was a disgrace to Samuel.


Deut. 16:19 "Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous."


Samuel had lived an upright life. His sons are not following in their father's footsteps.



Verses 4-5: Like the surrounding nations, the people of Israel wanted "a king" who would visibly symbolize power and security and lead them into battle (Deut. 17:14-15). The Israelites, influenced by other nations, were no longer listening to Samuel.


1 Samuel 8:4 "Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,"


At some place of rendezvous appointed; these were the heads of the tribes, and fathers of the houses and families of Israel, the principal persons of age and authority.


"And came to Samuel unto Ramah": The place of his nativity and abode, and where he now dwelt, and judged Israel; they went in a very respectable body to meet him.


At the time this happened, Samuel had almost complete rule over the Israelites. He had not abused his leadership though. They are coming to complain of the actions of his sons. He is at his hometown of Ramah.



Verses 5-18: Although God had made provision long before for His own anointed "king" (Gen. 17:7; 49:10; Num. 24:17), and had laid down specific regulations for the kingdom (Deut. 17:14-20), the people's request was for a kingdom patterned after the "nations" around them. Such a king, of course, was to serve under God as the earthly representative of the true sovereign of the nation and of the universe (Psalms 2:6-9; 110:1; 146:10; Dan. 4:25); but such a one they did not request. Accordingly, both God and Samuel were displeased, and the people were given solemn warning as to just what their choice entailed. Archaeological confirmation of the accuracy of the warnings spelled out (in verses 11-18), comes from the excavations of ancient Alalakh and Ugarit.


1 Samuel 8:5 "And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations."


"Now make us a king ... like all the nations": When Israel entered the land, they encountered Canaanite city-states that were led by kings (see Joshua 12:7-24). Additionally, during the period of the judges, Israel was enslaved by nations that were led by kings (Judges 3:8, 12; 4:2; 8:5; 11:12). However, at the time of the judges there was no king in Israel (Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). As Israel lived in the land surrounded by nations that had kings, the desire arose for a king in Israel also. According to (Deut. 17:14), God knew this would be their desire and He would allow it to occur. However (verse 20), revealed a motive which was definitely counter to the Lord's will (see note on 8:20).


It is very interesting, to me, that the elders had enough confidence in Samuel to do right, that they even told him of the sins of his sons. They are not complaining about the rule of Samuel. If Samuel were younger, they would not need a king. He would rule them fairly. His sons were not dedicated as he was. They were greedy for filthy lucre. God does not want them to have an earthly king. He is their King. They want to be as the other nations around them who was ruled by a king.



Verses 6-9: A literal rendering of "displeased Samuel" is "evil in his sight". He knew the decision to appoint a king was a rejection of God's authority, with dire consequences for the nation. Compounding his sorrow was Samuel's awareness that his sons were not fit to succeed him.


1 Samuel 8:6 "But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD."


Not that they called him an old man, and suggested that he was incapacitated for his office, nor for observing the unbecoming walk of his sons, but for what follows: when they said, give us a king to judge us. What displeased him was, that they were for changing their form of government, not only to remove it from him, and his sons, but from the Lord himself, who was king over them. The ill consequences of which, many of them at least, he easily foresaw, and which gave him great uneasiness, both on account of the glory of God, and their own good. Insomuch, as Josephus says, he could neither eat nor sleep, but watched all night, and spent it in prayer.


"And Samuel prayed unto the Lord": To know his mind and will, and what answer he should return unto them.


Samuel was not displeased about their complaints about his sons. He was disappointed, that they did not realize that the LORD was their King. Samuel is a very dedicated man of the LORD. He never makes a decision like this without first finding the will of the LORD in the matter.


1 Samuel 8:7 "And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them."


"Hearken unto the voice of the people": The Lord had predicted that there would be kings over Israel (Gen. 35:11; 36:31; 49:10; Num. 24:7-9, 17; Deut. 17:14; 28:36). Here, the Lord told Samuel to obey the request of the people and give them a king.


"They have not rejected thee, but ... Me": The nature of this rejection of the Lord by Israel is explained (in verses 19-20).


The LORD agrees with Samuel, that the request of the people is wrong. He explains to Samuel that they wanted a king, not to get rid of Samuel. They were a rebellious house against the rule of the LORD. They could not see that they were so much better off than the heathen countries around them. They did not want a sovereign God. They wanted an earthly king.


1 Samuel 8:8 "According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee."


This was no new thing; all that they had done since they were wonderfully favored of God, as to be brought out of Egyptian bondage, was all of a piece with this. One continued series of ingratitude, of rebellion against God, and against his servants, that he employed under him, as Moses, Aaron, etc.


"Even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods": This is what this people were always addicted to, the easing off of worship and service of God, and go into idolatry.


"So do they also unto thee": Acted the like ungrateful part to him for all the service he had done them, from his childhood to that time. Wherefore, as the disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord, if such things as before observed were done to Jehovah himself, Samuel could not expect to meet with better treatment, other than he had (see Matt. 10:24).


Even in the midst of all the miracles coming through the wilderness wanderings, they had rebelled against God. He had forgiven them over and over and they just went back into idol worship. They had never been faithful to God. He punished them when they fell into the worship of false gods, but they did not learn from this. He forgave them every time they cried out to him. They just would not remain faithful to God.


1 Samuel 8:9 "Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them."


"Protest solemnly unto them": Samuel obeyed the Lord by describing the behavior of a human king in verses 10-18. A king would:


  1. Draft young men and women for his service (verses 11-13);
  2. Tax the people's crops and flocks (verses 14-15, 17a);
  3. Appropriate the best of their animals and servants (verse 16;
  4. Place limitations on their personal freedom (verse 17b).

The LORD is telling Samuel to tell them they can have an earthly king if they insist. He will explain to them exactly what they will be facing with a king. They have never served an earthly king and they have no idea what that means. Samuel will warn them of the consequences, if they do not take his advice, they will have to take the consequences.


1 Samuel 8:10 "And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king."


"That asked of him a king": Just as Hannah asked for a son (1:20), Israel asked for a king (see note on 9:2).


Samuel is always eager to do the will of God. Again, he does just exactly as God has told him.



Verses 11-18: God warned Israel that a king would pervert justice (8:14), and exact taxes (8:15). Indeed, Israel had 43 kings over a period of 450 years, and only eight followed the Lord. A human leader only created more problems for the nation.


1 Samuel 8:11 "And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint [them] for himself, for his chariots, and [to be] his horsemen; and [some] shall run before his chariots."


Not in which he ought to proceed, but what he will do: and this not the manner of one king, or of the first only, but of all of them. Of kings in general, who are commonly inclined to arbitrary power. So Aristotle in opposition to theocracy describes a full and absolute kingdom, as he calls it, when a king does all things according to his will. And observes, that he that would have the mind or reason preside, would have God and the laws rule; but he that would have a man to reign, adds also a lust, or one led by his own lust.


"He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself": For his own use and service, to wait upon him, to be his pages, or grooms, or guards.


"For his chariots": To take care of them, and drive them, though not without paying them for it. Yet this being but a mean and servile employment, and what they should be obliged to, whether they would or not. This is observed to show the tyranny and bondage to which they would be subject, when their sons otherwise might be free men, and possessed of estates and carriages of their own.


"And to be his horsemen": Or rather "for his horses", to take care of them, and go out along with him, and attend his person, whether when going to war, or on pleasure.


"And some shall run before his chariots": Be his running footmen, being swift of foot, and trained up for that service; some are naturally swift, as Asahel was (2 Samuel 2:18). Pliny speaks of some swifter than horses; and of the swiftness of some he elsewhere gives many surprising instances. It seems as if it was usual to have fifty such men to run before them (see 2 Sam. 15:1).


This is speaking of them not being able to choose whether they work for the king or not. He chooses whomever he wants and they must obey his command. The judges had lived simple lives and had not taken their sons to work for them. The king would have literally thousands, who were to serve him personally. They would lose their free way of life.


1 Samuel 8:12 "And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and [will set them] to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots."


Which though posts of honor, yet when they are not matter of choice, and especially being precarious, and depending on the arbitrary will of a prince, are not eligible, and less so to persons that choose another sort of life.


"And will set them to ear his ground": To plough it; not the same persons made captains of thousands and fifties, but others, whom he will employ in tilling and manuring his fields, and oblige them to it.


"And to reap his harvest": When it is ripe, and gathers it in, and brings it home into his barns and garners.


"And to make his instruments of war": As swords, spears, bows and arrows, most commonly used in those times.


"And instruments of chariots": Which seem to design chariots of war, and the iron spikes and scythes which were joined to them, to cut down the foot soldiers, when driven among them in battle, which are commonly called chariots of iron (see Joshua 17:16).


This will be almost like slave labor. They will not be free to raise their own crops. Those, whom the king chooses, will grow his crops and harvest them. They will lose all of their independence. They will not be building for themselves, but for the king.


1 Samuel 8:13 "And he will take your daughters [to be] confectionaries, and [to be] cooks, and [to be] bakers."


He will exercise as arbitrary a power over the women as over the men; whom he will make to serve in such employments as he shall think fit; either for nothing, or such wages as he shall please to give them. To have their daughters taken in this manner would be peculiarly grievous to the parents, and dangerous to themselves, because of the tenderness of their sex, and their liableness to many injuries.


"Confectionaries" here, are speaking of makers of perfumes and ointments. The cooking and baking are just speaking of working in the king's kitchen. Some of the kings were fond of women and had a large harem.


1 Samuel 8:14 "And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, [even] the best [of them], and give [them] to his servants."


Which includes the whole increase of their land, their corn, and wine, and oil; and it is these, the fruits of their fields, vineyards, and oliveyards, which are here meant.


For otherwise kings might not, and did not by their absolute authority, take away those from their subjects; otherwise Ahab would not have taken away Naboth's vineyard at once, nor would Jezebel have needed to have taken such a method she did, to put Ahab into the possession of it.


"Even the best of them, and give them to his servants": For their service; and which some restrain to times of war, when necessity obliged to use such methods.


Their land that they inherited from God will not be theirs to grow their own things. They will be working to benefit the king. The king will claim all of the good land for himself.


1 Samuel 8:15 "And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants."


Besides the several tenths which God hath reserved for his service and servants, he will, when he pleaseth, impose another tenth upon you.


"And give to his officers": Or to his eunuchs": Which may be properly understood, and may imply a further injury, that he should, against the command of God, make some of his people eunuchs, and take those into his court and favor which God would have cast out of the congregation.


This is speaking of a tax being levied on the people. This tax will be used to pay for the government the king sets up.


1 Samuel 8:16 "And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put [them] to his work."


Into his own family, for his own use and service, if he wants them, or likes them better than what he has.


"And your goodliest young men": That are tall and lusty, comely and beautiful, of a proper stature and good aspect. And such in all countries used to be chosen for officers in courts, or attendants there; and so the Turks to this day pitch upon young men to attend on great personages, who are of a comely form, have admirable features, and are well shaped (see Dan. 1:4).


"And your asses, and put them to his work": Employ them in ploughing his fields, drawing his carriages, or bearing his burdens. And so any other cattle that would serve the same purposes, as oxen, camels, etc.


This will be forced labor for the king. They will lose their freedom. The king will choose the best of the young men and women to serve him.


1 Samuel 8:17 "He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants."


As well as of their seed and vineyards; and not the tithe of their flocks only, but of their herds also, which are here included.


This statement generally includes all that has gone before. In other words, "Ye elders and chiefs of the people must make up your minds, in the event of electing a king, to the loss of all political and social freedom."


How bitterly the nation, even in the successful and glorious reign of King Solomon, felt the pressure of the royal yoke, so truly foretold by their last judge, is shown in the history of the times which followed the death of Solomon, when the public discontent at the brilliant but despotic rule of the great king led to the revolution which split up the people into two nations. (See 1 Kings 12:4).


Under this type of rule, there is only one who makes all the decisions, and he is the king. He will take what and whom he wants, whenever he wants to.


1 Samuel 8:18 "And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not hear you in that day."


"Ye shall cry out ... because of your king which ye shall have chosen": Samuel warned the people that they would live to regret their decision for a king and would later cry out for freedom from his rule (1 Kings 2:4).


"The Lord will not hear you" In contrast to the Lord's response to Israel during the period of the judges (Judges 2:18), the Lord would not be moved to pity and therefore would refuse to deliver the people out of the hand of their king who oppressed them.


There will be no need to cry out to the LORD in that day. These people (even after being severely warned), still chose an earthly king over their LORD. They have rejected the rulership of the LORD. He will not free them from something they willfully had gotten themselves into.


1 Samuel 8:19 "Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us;"


"We will have a king over us": In spite of Samuel's warnings, the people demanded a king.


This house had been rebellious against God from the beginning. They believe they are rejecting Samuel here, when in fact, they are rejecting God. They have rejected being a people separate from the world. They want to be of the world, like everyone else.


1 Samuel 8:20 "That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles."


"Fight our battles": Up until this point, the Lord Himself had fought the battles for Israel and given continual victory (Joshua 10:14; 1 Sam. 7:10). Israel no longer wanted the Lord to be their warrior, replacing Him with a human king was their desire. It was in this way that Israel rejected the Lord (see verse 7). The problem was not in having a king; but, rather the reason the people wanted a king, i.e., to be like other nations. They also foolishly assumed there would be some greater power in a king leading them in battle.


This statement is exactly what God did not want them to do. The other nations around them depended on earthly strength to fight their battles. They were led by kings, who put their trust in horses and chariots. God had proved, over and over, that all Israel needed was Him. He was their strength in battle. No earthly king fights the battles. Their chosen army fights the battle. The king just gives the commands.


1 Samuel 8:21 "And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD."


They sneered at Samuel's description as a cause of obsessive fear to frighten them. Determined, at all hazards, to gain their object, they insisted on being made like all the other nations, though it was their glory and happiness to be unlike other nations in having the Lord for their King and Lawgiver (Nun. 23:9; Deut. 33:28). Their demand was conceded, for the government of a king had been provided for in the law; and they were dismissed to wait the appointment, which God had reserved to Himself (Deut. 17:14-20).


"And he rehearsed them in the ears of the Lord": Patiently, and without interruption; attentively heard them, took notice of them, laid them up in his memory. But gave no answer to them, but reported them to the Lord, privately, in a free and familiar manner, with great exactness, as they were expressed. This he did, not before the people publicly, but in secret prayer, seeking for direction what he should further do, or what answer he should return to them.


Samuel listened carefully to the answer of the warning the LORD had given them through him. He tries to give the answer, exactly as he had heard it.


1 Samuel 8:22 "And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city."


These are God's words of resignation as He grants the people's request. God sometimes lets people have their way so they will one day recognize their need for Him, so that the foolishness of men may be seen in clear distinction to God's holy purposes and standards (Prov. 9:9-10; Acts 17:26-27).


They have rejected the LORD for an earthly king. The LORD now gives His consent for Samuel to get them a king. God put within each of us a will. We can choose to follow Him or we can choose to follow the world. They have chosen to follow the world. Notice that the man of God will not be their civil leader. Samuel will remain in power as their spiritual leader. He will be judge as long as he lives. He will remain a prophet of God.


A prophet or priest was not to accept the office of king. Samuel sends them all to their homes, until the LORD selects the king.


Daniel 2:21 "And he changeth the times and the seasons: he removeth kings, and setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:"


1 Samuel Chapter 8 Questions


1. When did Samuel make his sons judges over Israel?


2. What were some of the opinions of different scholars of how old Samuel is in verse 1 here?


3. What were the names of his sons?


4. Where did they judge?


5. What does "Joel" mean?


6. What does "Abiah" mean?


7. What do the names of the sons reveal to us about Samuel?


8. What kind of men were Samuel's sons?


9. Where did the elders come to meet with Samuel?


10. What did the elders request of Samuel?


11. Why does God not want Israel to have an earthly king?


12. How did Samuel feel about them wanting an earthly king?


13. Why does Samuel not instantly respond to the elder's request?


14. They did not want a _____________ God. They wanted an earthly king.


15. How long had the Israelites rebelled against God?


16. Will God allow them to have an earthly king?


17. What must Samuel tell them, before they decide, whether they want an earthly king, or not?


18. What were some of the hardships they would have under an earthly king?


19. What is verse 15 speaking of?


20. When they cry out to God to deliver them from the king, will He listen?


21. What did the people decide to do, even after God had warned them?


22. What message did Samuel bring back to God?


23. What did the LORD tell Samuel to do about this?




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1 Samuel 9



1 Samuel Chapter 9

1 Samuel 9:1 "Now there was a man of Benjamin, whose name [was] Kish, the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power."


"A mighty man of power": I.e., "a man of wealth," confirmed by the reference to donkeys and servants (in verse 3; compare Boaz in Ruth 2:1).


Kish is the father of Saul, who became king. He was a very wealthy Benjamite. Kish was the son of Ner and the grandson of Abiel. The names given above are in the ancestry of Saul. The penman sometimes skips a generation and calls a grandson a son. The name "Kish" means bow. "Abiel" means father of strength. "Zeror" means bundle. "Bechorath" means offspring of the first birth. "Aphiah" means refreshed.


1 Samuel 9:2 "And he had a son, whose name [was] Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and [there was] not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward [he was] higher than any of the people."


"Saul": Son of Kish, a Benjamite, he was Israel's first king. The Hebrew root for "Saul" means "asked (of God)."


(In 8:10), the people "asked ... [for] a king." Although God appointed Saul, he was really the people's choice, given by the Lord in answer to their request. The Lord's choice would be from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10).


"A choice young man": Emphasis was placed on the external appearance of leaders (David in 16:18).


Saul was the first king of Israel (9:2 - 31:13; 1 Chron. 5:10-26). He had several admirable qualities suitable for a king of Israel during such turbulent times. First, he was a tall, attractive man. Second, he was from the tribe of Benjamin, situated on the border of Ephraim and Judah, and so had credibility with both the northern and southern tribes. Third, he was a capable military leader, as his early victories demonstrate.


His charisma (10:24), gained him popularity with the people. Yet external advantages do not guarantee effectiveness; readiness for a task is far more about internal character and intimacy with the Lord.


But it was soon apparent that Saul had a rebellious nature and would not share his power and popularity. He failed to wait for Samuel at Gilgal and made several excuses (13:8-12). Saul then neglected the needs of his own men and swore a foolish oath that almost cost the life of his son Jonathan (Chapter 14). Finally, he failed to kill all of the Amalekites (15:18-19), and lied to Samuel about the events (15:13). Saul was then rejected as a king by God (15:26), and wasted the remainder of his years in fruitless attempts on David's life.


"Saul" means asked. The Israelites would accept someone who was physically attractive and larger than his fellows. We find that Saul was a head taller than anyone else in the land. He looked like they thought a king ought to look. Israel wanted an earthly king. He will not only be their king, but will look like he is suited to be king.


1 Samuel 9:3 "And the asses of Kish Saul's father were lost. And Kish said to Saul his son, Take now one of the servants with thee, and arise, go seek the asses."


"The asses ... were lost": "Lost donkeys" meant "lost wealth." Kish had servants who could have gone looking, but Saul was chosen to oversee this important task.


The asses were used for riding. They were valuable to their owners, since they were their mode of transportation. Saul was grown, or his father would not have sent him to look for the animals. The reason for taking a servant with him was to help him catch them and bring them home. Of course, we know the LORD set this situation up for His purposes.


1 Samuel 9:4 "And he passed through mount Ephraim, and passed through the land of Shalisha, but they found [them] not: then they passed through the land of Shalim, and [there they were] not: and he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they found [them] not."


This being situated on the north of Benjamin, indicates the direction of Saul's journey. The district explored means the whole of the mountainous region, with its valleys and defiles, which belonged to Ephraim. Turning apparently southwards, probably through the verdant hills between Shiloh and the vales of Jordan (Shalisha and Shalim), he approached again the borders of Benjamin, scoured the land of Zuph, and was proposing to return, when his servant recollected that they were in the immediate neighborhood of the man of God, who would give them counsel.


This is speaking of the long mountain range of which mount Ephraim is a part. It would be like the asses to go up the side of the mountain. It seemed that Saul lived at the foot of the mountain range.


1 Samuel 9:5 "[And] when they were come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant that [was] with him, Come, and let us return; lest my father leave [caring] for the asses, and take thought for us."


In which was Ramathaim-zophim, the native place of Samuel (1 Samuel 1:1), and so the Targum here, "the land in which was the prophet"


"Saul said to the servant that was with him, come, and let us return": "Come, despairing of finding the asses after so long a search in different places:


"Lest my father leave caring for the asses, and take thought for us": Fearing some evil should have befallen his son and his servant, in comparison of whom, and especially his son, the asses would be of no account, and so give himself no concern for them, but be in great care and uneasiness for his son and servant. Wherefore Saul thought it most advisable to return home as soon as possible, lest his father should be overwhelmed with grief and trouble.


The father was a wealthy man, and he would not be terribly distressed that they did not find the asses. He would however, be disturbed if Saul does not return. They have been gone a long time looking and Saul tells the servant it is time to give up hunting the asses and go home.



Verses 6-11: three terms for prophet occur in these verses: "Seer," which stresses the reception of God's message; "Prophet," which emphasizes that the messenger is truly called of God to pronounce His word to the people; and "man of God," which underscores the messenger's relationship to God (see the note on 2:27). Other terms include: "messenger of the Lord," which reminds the prophet of his task of bearing God's word and "servant of the Lord," which underscores his task before God as called to serve.


1 Samuel 9:6 "And he said unto him, Behold now, [there is] in this city a man of God, and [he is] an honorable man; all that he saith cometh surely to pass: now let us go thither; peradventure he can show us our way that we should go."


"A man of God": A description of the prophet and judge, Samuel. "Man of God" referred to a prophet (2:27; see note on Deut. 33:1).


The servant is probably speaking of Samuel in the city of Ramah. Samuel had a reputation among the people as being anointed of God. He truly was an honorable man. He was upright before the LORD. The servant believes that the LORD might tell Samuel where Saul's father's asses are so he will not go home empty-handed.


1 Samuel 9:7 "Then said Saul to his servant, But behold, [if] we go, what shall we bring the man? for the bread is spent in our vessels, and [there is] not a present to bring to the man of God: what have we?"


"Not a present to bring": A gift expressed gratitude and thankfulness for the service of the "man of God." Gifts were offered to prophets (in 1 Kings 14:3; 2 Kings 4:42; 5:15-16; 8:8-9).


Saul wanted to take an offering to the man of God, if he inquired of him where to search for the asses. They had not planned to do this when they left home, so they really have nothing to offer Samuel. They had been out so long; they had even eaten their bread.


1 Samuel 9:8 "And the servant answered Saul again, and said, Behold, I have here at hand the fourth part of a shekel of silver: [that] will I give to the man of God, to tell us our way."


"The fourth part of a shekel": About one-tenth of an ounce.


It is interesting, to me, that it was the servant who had a fourth part of a shekel of silver. This would be a much better offering, than the bread would have been.


1 Samuel 9:9 "(Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for [he that is] now [called] a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.)"


"The seer ... now called a Prophet": Due to the God-given ability to know or "see" the future, the "seer" was so named in close relationship with what he did. The person called a prophet, by the time this book was written, had been termed a seer in the earlier time of Saul.


A seer, in this particular verse, is the same as a prophet. Prophets were anointed of the LORD. They had spiritual visions as well as physical visions. That is why they were known as seers. The word "nabi" really meant a prophet, however.


1 Samuel 9:10 "Then said Saul to his servant, Well said; come, let us go. So they went unto the city where the man of God [was]."


The name of the city where Samuel and Saul first met in this strange way is not given. Still, the impression which the narrative leaves on the mind is that it was Samuel's usual residence, "Ramah." We know Samuel had built an altar to the Lord at Ramah (1 Sam. 7:17); on the day of Saul's arrival there was a great sacrifice taking place on the altar of the high place of the city. Samuel too, was known to Saul's servant as dwelling in this place.


Saul was agreeable to the servant's plan. The city here is Ramah, and the man of God is Samuel.


1 Samuel 9:11 "[And] as they went up the hill to the city, they found young maidens going out to draw water, and said unto them, Is the seer here?"


For the city was built upon a hill from whence had the name of Ramah, signifying high and lifted up.


"They found young maidens going out to draw water: going out of the city, to a fountain which was at the bottom of the hill; and this was the usual business of maidens in those countries to fetch water for the service of the family (see Gen. 24:11; 24:15-16).


"And said unto them, is the seer here?" meaning, is he in the city? Or is he at home? Or is he in the country?


It seems that Ramah was on a hill. This is what the statement "went up the hill" means. It appears, the young women went to the well for water and Saul and his servant passed them on the way. Saul asked them how they might find Samuel?


1 Samuel 9:12 "And they answered them, and said, He is; behold, [he is] before you: make haste now, for he came to day to the city; for [there is] a sacrifice of the people today in the high place:"


This is essentially Canaanite in background (compare Deut. 12:2-5). Before the temple was built, the high place was used for worship and sacrifice because it provided the best advantage point for the participation of the people in worship and allowed them to visually see the sacrifice being made for them.


For the use of high places as locations of worship and sacrifice (see the note on 1 Kings 3:2).


It seemed that everyone kept up with where Samuel was. They immediately answer, that he is here. Saul must hurry to catch him. If Saul and his servant will continue on straight ahead, they will find him. The high places were accepted at this time as an appropriate place to worship. It seems Samuel had built an altar in this high place to sacrifice. When the temple in Jerusalem is built later on, it would be wrong to sacrifice in the high places. God is the Creator of the universe, but sometimes people look at the beauty of the natural things God created and want to worship them. We must worship God and nothing or no one else.


1 Samuel 9:13 "As soon as ye be come into the city, ye shall straightway find him, before he go up to the high place to eat: for the people will not eat until he come, because he doth bless the sacrifice; [and] afterwards they eat that be bidden. Now therefore get you up; for about this time ye shall find him."


"He doth bless the sacrifice": The sacrifice was offered to the Lord as an act of worship by the "man of God."


If they hurry, they will be able to catch him. It appears that this sacrifice was to be eaten by Samuel and the people. Samuel is still in town. The people will not start the feast without Samuel, so it will not be a problem, if he is late.


1 Samuel 9:14 "And they went up into the city: [and] when they were come into the city, behold, Samuel came out against them, for to go up to the high place."


Saul and his servant went up the hill to the city of Ramah.


"And when they were come into the city": Were within it, within the walls of it.


"Behold, Samuel came out against them": Came out of a door of his house upon them, just as they came up: or "to meet them". His way to the high place lay where they were coming; unless it can be thought he went out purposely to meet them. Perhaps having, as in the following verse, an intimation, that about that time one from the tribe of Benjamin, who should be king, would come to him, and so made this his way, knowing that one coming from that tribe must come that way.


"For to go up to the high place": Or place of sitting down, or feasting (see 1 Sam. 9:12).


It seemed that, Samuel was just leaving to go to the high place, when Saul and his servant came into the city. They seem to meet at the city gate.


1 Samuel 9:15 "Now the LORD had told Samuel in his ear a day before Saul came, saying,"


In a private manner, whispering in his ear, telling him in a free, familiar, friendly way, as a secret: This is one of the few more direct intimations in the sacred records of one of the ways in which the Spirit of God communicated Divine thoughts to the human spirit. Here the Eternal Spirit is represented as whispering in the ear of man. "The true spirit of Jehovah, full of compassion, had already on the preceding day whispered to Samuel that for the deliverance of Jehovah's people, a Benjamite must be anointed king."


"A day before Saul came": That he might prepare for the entertainment of him, and not be surprised at his coming, as well as hereby be assured he was the person designed to be king of Israel, when he should come.


The statement "told Samuel in his ear" means that this was a private conversation God had with Samuel. It was as if God whispered a secret to Samuel.


1 Samuel 9:16 "To morrow about this time I will send thee a man out of the land of Benjamin, and thou shalt anoint him [to be] captain over my people Israel, that he may save my people out of the hand of the Philistines: for I have looked upon my people, because their cry is come unto me."


"Anoint him" Anointing was a practice used to confirm the role of a priest (Exodus 28:41; 29:7; Lev. 4:3; 8:12). From this point onward, it was also done for kings. Anointing signified the separation and divine equipping for a particular calling from the Lord, a consecration for service. This represents a setting apart for service to the Lord, which occurs (in 10:1; see note on 2:10).


"Captain": Literally "one given prominence, one placed in front." The title referred to "one designated to rule" (1 Kings 1:35; 2 Chron. 11:12).


"Their cry is come unto Me": The people had been crying out for deliverance from the Philistines, their longstanding rivals, just as they did for liberation from Egypt (Exodus 2:25; 3:9).


It is so beautiful to me, that even though the Israelites have rejected the LORD as their King, He still loves them and hears their cry for help. Samuel would have been expecting whoever the Benjamite is. He now realizes it is Saul. Saul has not asked to be king. He is innocently looking for his father's lost asses. Saul would look like a strong leader because of his height. Samuel was to anoint Saul as leader.


1 Samuel 9:17 "And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people."


"This same shall reign over my people": God identified Saul to Samuel, assuring there was no mistaking whom God was choosing to be king.


God left no question in the mind of Samuel, that this man was the one. He told Samuel, this is the man to lead the people.


1 Samuel 9:18 "Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, Tell me, I pray thee, where the seer's house [is]."


"Tell me ... where the seer's house is": A reference to Samuel's house.


We know from this question, that Samuel looked no different than anyone else, even if he did have such power and authority. Saul asks Samuel, if he knows where the seer lives?


1 Samuel 9:19 "And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I [am] the seer: go up before me unto the high place; for ye shall eat with me today, and tomorrow I will let thee go, and will tell thee all that [is] in thine heart."


For he supposed, by inquiring for his house, that his business was with him; wherefore this he said, not as boasting of his character and office, or in the pride and vanity of his mind, but merely for information sake.


"Go up before me unto the high place; instead of returning home with him, he invited him to go to the place of feasting, as the Targum, whither he was going to partake of the entertainment there; and he bids him go before him, either because he was an old man, and could not go his pace, or he had business to do by the way, or this was in honor to Saul, whom he knew was to be king of Israel.


"For ye shall eat with me today": He and his servant, at the public feast: he insisted upon his dining, or it may be rather supping with him.


"And tomorrow I will let thee go": For it being in the evening when this feast was, he could not depart that night, but must stay till morning, and then he promised to dismiss him.


"And will tell thee all that is in thine heart": Answer all questions he had in his mind to ask him, for which he came into the city, and inquired for his house. The Jews have a tradition that it was in the heart of Saul that he should be a king, having in a vision seen himself placed on the top of a palm tree, and which was a sign of royalty, and this Samuel told him.


Saul had not expected this answer. He just wanted to know where he could find his father's animals. Samuel shows Saul great honor, by asking him to eat of the sacrifice with him. Samuel also tells Saul he will tell him all that is in his heart. How could Saul refuse such an offer from such a noted man of God?


1 Samuel 9:20 "And as for thine asses that were lost three days ago, set not thy mind on them; for they are found. And on whom [is] all the desire of Israel? [Is it] not on thee, and on all thy father's house?"


"All the desire of Israel": Saul was to become the focus of Israel's hope for military victories over her enemies (8:19-20).


Saul had never mentioned to Samuel about the asses. He would be surprised, that Samuel knows of that. He would now be convinced that Samuel was a man of God, because he told him of the asses, without being asked. I like the question Samuel asked him. Will the finding of the animals save Israel from the Philistines? The good of all Israel will lie on the shoulders of Saul. God has called Saul to a much greater work than chasing animals. The animals were lost, to put Saul in this place at this time. The animals are no more a problem. They are found.



Verses 21-24: Saul was from the "least" family in the "smallest" tribe in Israel, yet God called him to be king. God needs neither affluence nor pedigree to advance His kingdom, a theme repeated throughout Scripture. By giving Saul the priest's "portion" (Exodus 29:27), Samuel indicated that he was God's anointed king.


1 Samuel 9:21 "And Saul answered and said, [Am] not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?"


"A Benjamite ... smallest of the tribes of Israel": Saul's humility and timidity was expressed by his proper assessment of his tribe and a humble estimation of his family.


It appears from this, that Saul was a humble man. The Benjamite tribe had been reduced to just 600 men and grew from that. They are indeed, a very small tribe. Saul finds it hard to believe that God would call him to be king. His family is not of great importance either. This is who God calls though. He does not want someone who is powerful in his own right. God wants someone who will be strong in the power of the LORD.


1 Samuel 9:22 "And Samuel took Saul and his servant, and brought them into the parlor, and made them sit in the chiefest place among them that were bidden, which [were] about thirty persons."


"The parlor": The place where those who were invited ate with Samuel after the offering of the sacrifice on the high place (verses 12-13).


Samuel is showing great honor to Saul. This guest chamber was where Samuel would eat his part of the feast. It appears there were thirty chosen to share the feast with him. The other people would eat out in the open. Not only did he invite Saul and his servant to eat with him, but he gave them the place of the honored guest.


1 Samuel 9:23 "And Samuel said unto the cook, Bring the portion which I gave thee, of which I said unto thee, Set it by thee."


All that took place in the meeting of the prophet and Saul at the sacrificial feast, and subsequently in Samuel's house, was arranged for beforehand; every event was foreseen and provided for, even the trivial details. All was symbolical in this preparation for the great change in the constitution of Israel, which, under God's providence, was fraught with such important consequences. The very piece of meat set before Samuel at the Ramah banquet was no chance piece, but one which, owing, no doubt, to its being considered the choicest, had been carefully set aside for him when the sacrificial feast was being prepared.


From the time that God whispered in Samuel's ear about Saul, the special portion had been set aside for Saul.


1 Samuel 9:24 "And the cook took up the shoulder, and [that] which [was] upon it, and set [it] before Saul. And [Samuel] said, Behold that which is left! set [it] before thee, [and] eat: for unto this time hath it been kept for thee since I said, I have invited the people. So Saul did eat with Samuel that day."


"The shoulder ... kept for thee": Samuel was following (Lev. 7:28-36). Samuel received the leg, the portion of the sacrifice reserved for the priest. Samuel's giving of this choice piece of meat to Saul was a distinct honor and reflected Saul's new status as the designated king.


The shoulder was a special piece, which would have been set before the anointed of God. The cook set this before Saul, and Samuel told him to eat. It appears that Samuel had chosen the thirty to witness the new king of all Israel.


1 Samuel 9:25 "And when they were come down from the high place into the city, [Samuel] communed with Saul upon the top of the house."


"Upon the top of the house": The roof of Samuel's house provided a place for Saul and his servant to sleep for the night.


The top of the houses were flat where people went to party, or have meetings of various kinds. This was a private place where Samuel could talk to Saul. Perhaps, Samuel was relating to Saul the need for him as a leader of the people at this time.


1 Samuel 9:26 "And they arose early: and it came to pass about the spring of the day, that Samuel called Saul to the top of the house, saying, Up, that I may send thee away. And Saul arose, and they went out both of them, he and Samuel, abroad."


Saul was taken to lodge with the prophet for that night. Before retiring to rest, they communed on the flat roof of the house, the couch being laid there (Joshua 2:6), when, doubtless, Samuel revealed the secret and described the peculiar duties of a monarch in a nation so related to the Divine King as Israel. Next morning early, Samuel roused his guest, and conveying him on his way towards the skirts of the city, sought, before parting, a private interview. the object of which is narrated in the next chapter.


It appears, from this, that Saul had spent the night. This is speaking of early in the morning. The housetop meeting was for Samuel to speak once more with Saul. Saul must go home, so his father would not worry that he was lost, or overtaken by evil men.


1 Samuel 9:27 "[And] as they were going down to the end of the city, Samuel said to Saul, Bid the servant pass on before us, (and he passed on,) but stand thou still a while, that I may show thee the word of God."


"The word of God": Special revelation from God, given to Samuel and intended for Saul (see note on 3:1).


The servant was told to go ahead, so Samuel could speak privately with Saul. Samuel had never revealed to Saul that God would make him king of Israel. The showing of the Word of God, here is speaking of Samuel telling Saul what God's will was for his life.


1 Samuel Chapter 9 Questions


1. Who is Kish?


2. What tribe was he from?


3. What does the name "Kish" mean?


4. What does "Abiel" mean?


5. What does the name "Saul" mean?


6. Saul was a ______ taller than his fellows.


7. What would the people think Saul looked like?


8. What was lost, that Kish sent Saul to find?


9. The ________ were used for riding.


10. What area is verse 4 speaking of?


11. Why did Saul mention to the servant, they must turn and go home?


12. What does the servant say to Saul?


13. Who is the servant speaking of?


14. Where does he live?


15. What does the servant believe Samuel might tell them?


16. Why did Saul think they should not inquire of Samuel?


17. What did the servant have, that would make a nice gift for the man of God?


18. What had the prophet been called earlier?


19. Who did Saul inquire of, where he might find Samuel?


20. Why did they tell Saul to hurry?


21. When would it become wrong to sacrifice in the high places?


22. Where did Saul find Samuel?


23. What does "told Samuel in his ear" mean?


24. _______ told Samuel that Saul was the man to lead the people.


25. What does Saul ask Samuel in verse 18?


26. How did Samuel answer him?


27. What did Samuel ask Saul to do?


28. What had happened to his father's asses?


29. The good of all Israel will lie on the shoulders of ________.


30. What excuses does Saul give to Samuel, saying he is not worthy?


31. Where did Saul eat the feast?


32. What did Samuel tell the cook to do for Saul?


33. Where does verse 25 say Samuel communed with Saul?


34. Why did Samuel tell the servant to go ahead?


35. What is Samuel showing Saul about the Word of God?





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1 Samuel 10



1 Samuel Chapter 10

1 Samuel 10:1 "Then Samuel took a vial of oil, and poured [it] upon his head, and kissed him, and said, [Is it] not because the LORD hath anointed thee [to be] captain over his inheritance?"


Samuel's anointing of Saul held spiritual significance. By it the king was set apart for service as God's earthly representative on the throne of Israel. Negative critics have imagined a contradiction between Saul's anointing here (and the reports at verses 17-24 and 11:14-15). Actually, the three accounts are supplementary, Saul's private anointing by God through His prophet being reported here, the public identification of Saul through the casting of lots being detailed (in verses 17-24), and the formal proclamation of Saul's kingship being recorded (in 11:14-15). Because Israel had no precedent of royal protocol and because interests were strongly divided in the country (compare verses 27, 11:12-13), care and time were needed for both the selection and the confirmation of Saul's leadership (compare the note on 11:1).


"His inheritance": The inheritance was God's nation, Israel, in the sense that she uniquely belonged to Him (Deut. 40; 9:26).


This vial of oil was the same kind of oil that was used to anoint the priests to the service of the LORD. Saul was anointed into this office of king by the LORD Himself, even though Samuel poured the oil. The kiss was a seal of approval by Samuel. It was honoring Saul as king. Saul knew that everyone had great respect for Samuel. Saul was greatly honored that Samuel would anoint him and kiss him to show his loyalty to Saul.



Verses 2-6: As with Moses (Exodus 4:3-9) and Gideon (Judges 6:36-40), "God" graciously gave confirmation of His will for Saul by means of outward signs. All three took place on the same day (verse 9).


1 Samuel 10:2 "When thou art departed from me to day, then thou shalt find two men by Rachel's sepulcher in the border of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say unto thee, The asses which thou wentest to seek are found: and, lo, thy father hath left the care of the asses, and sorroweth for you, saying, What shall I do for my son?"


"Zelzah": Only mentioned here. Probably near Ramah, located between Beth-el and Bethlehem, where Rachel died (Gen. 35:19; 48:7).


Samuel tells Saul this in advance, so Saul will believe he is called of God to be king. The message from the two men will also relieve Saul that his father's asses are found. It will be sad news that his father is sorrowing for him to return home. Rachel's sepulcher is just out of Bethlehem.


1 Samuel 10:3 "Then shalt thou go on forward from thence, and thou shalt come to the plain of Tabor, and there shall meet thee three men going up to God to Beth-el, one carrying three kids, and another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a bottle of wine:"


"Tabor": This is not the far-distant Mt. Tabor, but a location unknown, probably near Beth-el.


1 Samuel 10:4 "And they will salute thee, and give thee two [loaves] of bread; which thou shalt receive of their hands."


The "loaves of bread" were probably intended for the sacrificial meal. This was the second time Saul received the sacred bread, an honor that corroborated his divine anointing.


This will be another sign from the LORD, that Saul has been called as king. I am sure that Saul is still wondering if the LORD really did call him. These strange things happening to him spontaneously will certainly make him believe it is true. This will happen in the vicinity of Beth-el. These men, who meet Saul, will be total strangers. The fact that they give him two loaves of bread that were intended for their offering in Beth-el, should verify what has happened to him is real.


1 Samuel 10:5 "After that thou shalt come to the hill of God, where [is] the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass, when thou art come thither to the city, that thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place with a psaltery, and a tabret, and a pipe, and a harp, before them; and they shall prophesy:"


"Garrison of the Philistines": Most likely the garrison in Geba in Benjamin, about 5 miles north of Jerusalem.


"A company of prophets": Literally "sons of the prophets." They were young men being trained by Samuel for the prophetic ministry (see 19:18-20).


"Prophesy": The prophet, as God's messenger, declared the Word of the Lord (2 Sam. 7:5; 12:1), sometimes accompanied by music (1 Chron. 25:1). Here, "prophesy" connotes praising God and instructing the people with musical accompaniment.


This third thing that happens to him is even more convincing than the first two. This is, probably, at Gibeah. These prophets will be coming down from their place of worship. One of the schools of the prophets, that Samuel had established, was located at Gibeah. This is why there would be so many prophets here. The instruments are with them, so they have been praising God in music. They chanted their prayers and prophesy as well. They will prophesy when they see Saul.


1 Samuel 10:6 "And the spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man."


The coming of "the Spirit of the Lord" upon Saul would equip him to do the tasks for which he had been anointed. See the note on Judges 3:10. The Spirit of the Lord would especially empower a person to serve God's people (Judges 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6, 19; 15:14).


"Be turned into another man": With this empowerment by the Holy Spirit, Saul would emerge another man (10:9), equipped in the manner of Gideon and Jephthah for deeds of valor (compare verse 9; Judges 6:34; 11:29).


Saul will receive the gift of prophecy, when the Spirit of the LORD comes upon him. He will be totally different, filled with the Spirit of God. The old flesh man will be gone and he will be a spirit man.


1 Samuel 10:7 "And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee, [that] thou do as occasion serve thee; for God [is] with thee."


"Signs": The 3 signs of verses 2-6:


(1) The report of the found donkeys;


(2) The encounter of the 3 men going to Beth-el; and


(3) The encounter with the prophets.


"Do as occasion serve thee": Saul was to do what his hand found to do (Eccl. 9:10).


After this happens to Saul, the LORD will direct everything Saul does. Saul's decisions will be in the will of God, after this special anointing comes upon him. He will succeed, because the LORD is with him.


1 Samuel 10:8 "And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, [and] to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and show thee what thou shalt do."


Samuel gives Saul instructions concerning further "sacrifices" at "Gilgal," a command he was subsequently to disobey (13:8-10).


"Gilgal": The town where Saul eventually would be declared king by Samuel (11:14-15), offer sacrifice before the Lord without the prophet Samuel (13:12), and where Samuel slew king Agag (15:33). Gilgal was to the east of Jericho, but west of the Jordan River.


"Burnt offerings ... peace offerings" (see notes on Lev. 1:3-17; 3:1-17).


"Seven days": The appointed time Saul was to wait for Samuel to come and tell him what to do (see 13:8).


Gilgal is the place where Saul will gather the people for war. Notice, it is Samuel who sacrifices. Samuel is the spiritual leader and Saul is the civil leader of the country. At this meeting at Gilgal, Saul is to stay seven days so Samuel can show him what he is to do.


1 Samuel 10:9 "And it was [so], that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him another heart: and all those signs came to pass that day."


"God gave him another heart": Literally "God changed him for another heart," i.e., God prepared Saul for the kingship by having the Holy Spirit come upon him (verse 6).


Although many believe that Saul had a valid conversion experience, the term "another heart" need not be construed as anything more than a divine equipping of Saul with inner abilities for performing the duties of the kingship for which he had been anointed.


God removed the heart of flesh and gave Saul a brand new heart guided by the Spirit of God. No longer was Saul a man of Israel. He was now King of Israel under the anointing of God. His heart was a heart of a king. God had completely changed him. There was no time wasted. The signs that Samuel had told him of, happened that very day.


1 Samuel 10:10 "And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them."


This temporary filling confirmed Saul's anointing as king.


This is a supernatural anointing of the Spirit of God causing him to prophesy. Saul had not been trained. His prophecy was a gift from God. In this type of prophecy, God speaks through the anointed.


1 Samuel 10:11 "And it came to pass, when all that knew him beforetime saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets, then the people said one to another, What [is] this [that] is come unto the son of Kish? [Is] Saul also among the prophets?"


As there must be many that personally knew him, and were acquainted with him, since Gibeah, the place he was near to, was his native place: saw that, behold, he prophesied among the prophets. Or praised among them, as the Targum, sung psalms and hymns with them: what is this that is come unto the son of Kish? Someone that was never in the school of the prophets or learned music yet is as dexterous at it as any of them.


"Is Saul also among the prophets?" A husbandman and herdsman that looked after his father's farms, fields, and cattle, and now among the prophets of the Lord, bearing his part with them, and performing it as well as any of them. This was matter of wonder to those who knew his person, family, and education. And so, it was equally matter of admiration that Saul the persecutor, one of the same tribe, should be among the preachers of the Gospel (Acts 9:20).


The people of Israel had great respect for those who prophesied. The school of prophesy, that Samuel started, was where they lived. The people were familiar with prophesy, but they never knew Saul to be a prophet. He had not attended this school. They are amazed to hear him prophesy. Usually your friends and relatives are the last to believe you have been called of God. Saul was no different.


1 Samuel 10:12 "And one of the same place answered and said, But who [is] their father? Therefore it became a proverb, [Is] Saul also among the prophets?"


"Who is their father?" A question asked to find out the identity of the leader of the prophetic band that now included Saul.


"A proverb": A saying of common occurrence.


Birth has nothing to do with prophecy. A prophet is called of God to be a prophet.


1 Samuel 10:13 "And when he had made an end of prophesying, he came to the high place."


After he had spent his fervor in the hymn, and probably ecstatic prayer, Saul, before he went to his home we read, betook himself at once to the high place of Gibeah, whence the sons of the prophets had just come down when he met them on the hill-side. He went there, no doubt, because, conscious of the change that had passed over him, and aware of his new powers, he felt a desire for solitary communing in the quiet of a holy sanctuary with God, who had come so near him.


"He came to the high place": To return thanks to God for the gift bestowed on him, and for that high honor and dignity he was raised unto, of which he had private knowledge; and to pray God to fit him more and more for government, and to, assist him in it, and help him to discharge his office in a wise and faithful manner.


These young prophets had just come from this high place. Now Saul goes to the high place to worship the LORD in his own way. Saul knows that something has happened to him and he goes to pray and thank God for the honor he has bestowed upon him.


1 Samuel 10:14 "And Saul's uncle said unto him and to his servant, Whither went ye? And he said, To seek the asses: and when we saw that [they were] no where, we came to Samuel."


They had been absent so long a time. This was his father's brother, as the Targum, and so Aquila; whose name was Ner, the father of Abner (1 Samuel 14:50), who met with him at the high place, or found him in the city, in his father's house it may be. Josephus says, Saul went into the house of his kinsman Abner, whom he loved above all his relations, and that it was he that discoursed with Saul, and asked him, the questions before and after related:


"And he said, to seek the asses: he first observes the end of their going, the business they went upon, in which not succeeding, then he answers more directly to the question:


"And when we saw that they were nowhere": Could not see them, nor find them anywhere, or hear of them where they went:


"We came to Samuel": At Ramah, to inquire of him, if he could direct us which way to go, and what methods to take, to find the asses.


The uncle this is speaking of is probably Abner, since he is mentioned in that way in other Scriptures. He is inquisitive about what has happened to Saul. He really gets excited when Saul tells him he saw Samuel. It appears that everyone is aware that something special has happened to Saul. It does not mention Saul's father here, but I am sure Saul shared with him what happened to him. Every little detail is not covered in the telling of this.


1 Samuel 10:15 "And Saul's uncle said, Tell me, I pray thee, what Samuel said unto you."


On hearing he had been with Samuel, and perceiving so great an alteration in Saul, perhaps he began to suspect something about the kingdom. That being what everyone was talking of, and expecting every day to hear from Samuel who should be king, according to the Lord's appointment.


"Tell me, I pray thee, what Samuel said unto you": The earnestness with which he put this question seems to confirm the above conjecture.


The uncle is asking for Saul to go through everything that Samuel said and did.


1 Samuel 10:16 "And Saul said unto his uncle, He told us plainly that the asses were found. But of the matter of the kingdom, whereof Samuel spake, he told him not."


"The matter of the kingdom": The information Samuel gave Saul about becoming king he did not tell his uncle. This might reflect Saul's humility (compare verse 22).


Saul tells his uncle about the asses, which would glorify Samuel. He does not tell him of being anointed as king of Israel. He really does not tell him anything Samuel said to him, about his call to serve God.



Verses 17-24: (See the note on verse 1).


1 Samuel 10:17 "And Samuel called the people together unto the LORD to Mizpeh;"


"Samuel called the people": The Lord's choice of Saul was made public at Mizpah, the place of the spiritual revival before Israel's victory over the Philistines (7:5-8).


This seemed to be their favorite place to call them together. They know when Samuel calls them, they will hear from the LORD.



Verses 18-19: "The Lord God of Israel ... delivered you": Despite the past faithfulness of God to His people, they still desired a human king to deliver them from the hands of their enemies.


1 Samuel 10:18 "And said unto the children of Israel, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, [and] of them that oppressed you:"


Before proceeding to the election, Samuel again reminds Israel of its folly and ingratitude in their voluntarily rejecting the glorious Eternal King for an earthly sovereign. It was perfectly true that, under the present circumstances of Israel, the establishment of a mortal king was needful for the development of the Hebrew power. But it was none the less true that such a change in the Hebrew constitution would never have been necessary had not the nation forsaken their own Eternal Sovereign. Who in time past had saved them out of far greater perils than any then threatening them. Now a change in the government of Israel was necessary, therefore God gave them their desire. But the change would involve the loss for ever of the higher blessedness for which the people had shown to be utterly unworthy.


The LORD had separated them out as a people, who had no king, except the LORD. He had delivered them from great bondage in Egypt and brought them to their Promised Land. He blessed them beyond all other nations, as long as they stayed faithful to Him, and obeyed His commandments.


1 Samuel 10:19 "And ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and your tribulations; and ye have said unto him, [Nay], but set a king over us. Now therefore present yourselves before the LORD by your tribes, and by your thousands."


They rejected God as their king by desiring another to be set over them.


"Who himself saved you out of all your adversity and your tribulations": That they had been in at any time in Egypt, in their passage through the wilderness to Canaan, and after they were settled there.


"Ye have said unto him, nay, but set a king over us": They did as good as say God should not be their King, but they would have one set over them like the kings of the nations about them. Samuel reminds them of this their request and resolution to have a king, which they had expressed some time ago, that it might appear to them that this was wholly of their own seeking. The motion came from them, and not from the Lord, nor from Samuel, and therefore, whatever ill consequences might follow, they had no one to blame but themselves.


"Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes, and by your thousands": By the heads of their tribes, and by the rulers of the thousands into which their tribes were divided, that it might be known either by Urim and Thummim. Or rather by casting lots, out of which tribe, and out of which thousand, house, and family in it, their king was to be chosen. And by which method as it would clearly appear to be a choice directed by the Lord, so it would prevent all contention and discord among themselves.


In spite of all the wonderful things He had done for them, they have rejected Him as their King. They wanted to be like all the heathen nations around them, and have an earthly king. They are not to say later, they did not know. All the tribes are gathered here at Mizpeh. Each tribe is to come individually and stand before Samuel.



Verses 20-21: In spite of all the Lord had done to confirm Saul's calling, including the three additional signs (in 10:2-7), he apparently was reticent. Those who look to themselves and their own strength will never have the courage to accept the Lord's commissioning. The only antidote to such reticence is total reliance on God.


1 Samuel 10:20 "And when Samuel had caused all the tribes of Israel to come near, the tribe of Benjamin was taken."


The heads and representatives of them were taken to the place where the lots were cast.


"The tribe of Benjamin was taken": The lot fell upon that tribe for the choice of a king out of it; not the tribe of Reuben, who was the firstborn, nor the tribe of Judah, to whom the kingdom was promised, but the tribe of Benjamin. The least of all the tribes, and which sprung from the youngest son of Jacob, contrary as it were probable, to the expectation of all.


All of the twelve tribes came before Him, and Samuel chose out the little tribe of Benjamin.


1 Samuel 10:21 "When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken: and when they sought him, he could not be found."


By the heads of them, to have lots cast for them, out of which of the families the king should be chosen.


"The family of Matri was taken": That is by lot; the lot fell upon that family for the choice of a king out of them: in the account of the families of the tribe of Benjamin (1 Chron. 8:1). No mention is made of this family, or anywhere else, and yet no doubt there was such a family, and Saul was of it. It seems to have its name from the butt or mark arrows were shot at; some of the Benjamites being famous for their skill in darting and slinging, and perhaps this family might be so.


"And Saul the son of Kish was taken": The lot being cast upon the men in the family of Matri, though it is not expressed, fell upon Saul; for though he was not there, as Jarchi observes, the lot fell upon him. For their names were written on a piece of paper, and put into a box, and the prophet put in his hand and took out one, and on that was the name of Saul, and this was the manner of the lot.


"And when they sought him, he could not be found": Because he had hidden himself, as in the next verse; it is very probable, and indeed plain, that he was in this assembly at the first opening of it. And knowing what Samuel had said and done to him, and perceiving in what way the lot was going concerning the same, the tribe of Benjamin being taken, he concluded how it would ensue, and therefore left the assembly, and hid himself.


There is no record of Matri anywhere. Saul was separated out from all of the people of the Benjamites. He is so unsure of himself that he has hidden away, rather than be proclaimed as king before all of his people.


1 Samuel 10:22 "Therefore they inquired of the LORD further, if the man should yet come thither. And the LORD answered, Behold, he hath hid himself among the stuff."


"Hid ... among the stuff: Overwhelmed, Saul had hidden himself in the military supplies.


We would have to say, he was a reluctant king. The question was answered by the LORD speaking through the Urim and the Thummim of the priest. The LORD knows exactly where he is. He was out where the wagon loads of provisions were. He was hiding. He cannot hide from the LORD.


1 Samuel 10:23 "And they ran and fetched him thence: and when he stood among the people, he was higher than any of the people from his shoulders and upward."


"Higher ... from his shoulders and upward": Saul's physical stature was impressive; being head and shoulders above the rest gave Saul a kingly presence.


When they brought Saul in, he was a head taller than any of the other Israelites.


1 Samuel 10:24 "And Samuel said to all the people, See ye him whom the LORD hath chosen, that [there is] none like him among all the people? And all the people shouted, and said, God save the king."


As to the height of his bodily stature; of which was in itself commendable in a king and some kind of indication of great endowments of mind.


"God save the king": Let the king live, to wit, live long and prosperously; for an afflicted life is reputed a kind of death, and is often so called. Hereby they accept and own him for their king, and promise subjection to him.


The physical appearance of Saul was striking. The fact that he was so tall made him appear to have the stature of a king. They readily accept him as their king, and begin to shout "God save the king".


1 Samuel 10:25 "Then Samuel told the people the manner of the kingdom, and wrote [it] in a book, and laid [it] up before the LORD. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house."


"The manner of the kingdom": Samuel reminded the people of the regulations governing the conduct of kings (according to Deut. 17:14-20).


As God's judge and prophet, "Samuel" put in writing the ordinances of the newly established "kingdom" and deposited the document in the sanctuary of the "Lord."


They have established a government, and these laws are the law of the land. This is like writing a constitution. This is the way the government will be run. Now that the people have been told that Saul is king, there is no need for them to stay. Samuel sends them home.


1 Samuel 10:26 "And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched."


"Gibeah": This was a city belonging to Benjamin (Judges 19:14). Gibeah has been excavated at the modern site of Tell-el-Ful, three miles north of Jerusalem. This city figured prominently in two separate periods of Old Testament history. It first appeared in Judges 19 and 20 as the site of a lewd and obscene crime. As the result of judgment, the city was destroyed (Judges 20:40); apparently, it was rebuilt after the fire. Later Gibeah was the home of Saul, first king of Israel (verse 26), who met a band of prophets at Gibeah after being anointed king (verses 5, 10). From Gibeah, Saul summoned the tribes of Israel to deliver Jabesh-gilead (11:1-11). Gibeah was the site of Saul's war with the Philistines (13:2; 14:2, 16), apparently having become Saul's capital (15:34; 22:6; 23:19). In many passages, it is even called "Gibeah of Saul" (11:4; Isa. 10:29).


"Whose hearts God had touched": Valiant men who were eager to affirm God's choice of Saul and, in response to a divine impulse, joined him.


It appears, from the verse above, that God moved upon the hearts of some of the men, and they came home with Saul dedicated to serving him. They would be willing to follow him completely.


1 Samuel 10:27 "But the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us? And they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace."


"Children of Belial": Literally "sons of Belial" (see note on 2:12). Those who did not recognize Saul with the respect befitting a king.


(See the note on Judges 19:22.)


It seems from this Scripture, that the noble men who followed Saul did bring him presents to help him get started as king. We remember from other Bible studies, that the word "Belial" meant worthless or good for nothing. They were troublemakers. They did not want to follow Saul even if God had anointed him. Saul seemed to be a patient man at this point. He did not punish those, who did not believe in him. Perhaps it was because he had a little trouble believing in himself.


1 Samuel Chapter 10 Questions


1. What two things did Samuel do to Saul that showed he was anointing him as king?


2. What kind of oil was this?


3. Who was actually anointing Saul?


4. The first sign for Saul to watch for was what?


5. What was the good news these two men will give him?


6. Where is Rachel's sepulcher?


7. What would happen at the plain of Tabor?


8. What will these men give to Saul?


9. What would certainly prove to Saul, that he had been ordained of God?


10. The three men appear to him in the vicinity of ___________.


11. What were they going to do with the two loaves of bread, before they met Saul?


12. Who will Saul meet, coming down from the high place?


13. What will they have with them?


14. What will they do, when they see Saul?


15. What will cause Saul to prophesy?


16. When Saul begins to prophesy, what else happens to him?


17. Who will come to Gilgal, and make the burnt offerings?


18. How long will Saul tarry there?


19. When Saul turned his back to Samuel to leave, God gave him ____________ _________.


20. When did the signs that Samuel prophesied to Saul happen?


21. What did the people, who knew Saul; ask when they saw him prophesy?


22. The school of prophesy had been started by __________.


23. _________ has nothing to do with prophecy.


24. Who was Saul's uncle, probably?


25. What really excites him, that Saul tells him?


26. What is the only thing Saul tells his uncle?


27. Samuel called all the people together unto the _______ at __________.


28. What did the LORD God of Israel remind them, He had done for them?


29. How did they return His blessings on them?


30. What are the people demanding?


31. When all the tribes stood before Samuel with their thousands, what tribe did he separate out?


32. When they asked for Saul, where was he?


33. The LORD answered them through the ________ and the ___________.


34. When they brought him back, what made him stand out from everyone else?


35. How did the people feel about Saul as king?


36. This writing in verse 25, is like what?


37. Who went with Saul, when he went to Gibeah?


38. Who was against Saul?


39. What does "Belial" mean?


40. Why did Saul not punish these of Belial?





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1 Samuel 11



1 Samuel Chapter 11

1 Samuel 11:1 "Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against Jabesh-gilead: and all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will serve thee."


"Nahash the Ammonite": Nahash, meaning "snake," was king of the Ammonites, the descendants of Lot (Gen. 19:36-38) who lived east of the Jordan.


"Jabesh-gilead": A town east of the Jordan River about 22 miles south of the Sea of Galilee, in the tribal territory of Manasseh (Judges 21:8-14).


In God's providence, the renewed "Ammonite" hostilities provided an occasion for Saul's newly established kingship to be tested.


Jabesh-gilead is a city in the land of the half tribe of Manasseh. "Nahash" means serpent. This should let us know that he was an evil man. The Ammonites felt that Israel had taken land belonging to them. It seems, the men at Jabesh were willing to make a treaty with Nahash, and were even willing to go into servitude, if that was what it took to avoid a war with them.


1 Samuel 11:2 "And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this [condition] will I make [a covenant] with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it [for] a reproach upon all Israel."


Such barbarity would humiliate the Israelites and incapacitate them for further fighting. Severe cruelty is not without precedent in the warfare of the ancient Near East (2 Kings 8:12; 25:7).


"Thrust out all your right eyes": This barbarous mutilation was a common punishment of usurpers in the ancient Near East which would disable the warriors' depth-perception and peripheral vision, rendering them useless in battle.


Nahash's name fits him very well. This is a very cruel thing to do to any one person, much less all the people. The poking out of their right eyes would make all of Israel look bad in the sight of the countries around them. I would doubt if anyone would allow their eye to be poked out without a fight.



Verses 3-7: God used Saul's righteous "anger" to deliver the Israelites from the Ammonites. This is one example in Scripture where anger is justified and leads to justice (Exodus 22:21-24; John 2:13-22).


1 Samuel 11:3 "And the elders of Jabesh said unto him, Give us seven days' respite, that we may send messengers unto all the coasts of Israel: and then, if [there be] no man to save us, we will come out to thee."


"Seven days": the elders at Jabesh were hoping for deliverance from the Israelites west of the Jordan.


It appears they are not aware that Saul had been anointed king. They will look for someone to save them first. The seven days would give them time to search for help throughout Israel. It is strange, to me, that this evil Nahash waited the seven days. God had to move on him to make him willing to wait.


1 Samuel 11:4 "Then came the messengers to Gibeah of Saul, and told the tidings in the ears of the people: and all the people lifted up their voices, and wept."


"Gibeah", Saul's hometown, became his base of operations. Although Gibeah functioned as Israel's capital, the city failed to achieve prominence, a fact well illustrated by the archaeological excavations undertaken there.


Saul's home and the first capital city of the monarchy and was about 3 miles north of Jerusalem (10:26).


Gibeah was the home of Saul. Up until this time we have not heard much of the kingship of Saul. The people wept, because it appears they, too, did not think of Saul as being someone who would save them.


1 Samuel 11:5 "And, behold, Saul came after the herd out of the field; and Saul said, What [aileth] the people that they weep? And they told him the tidings of the men of Jabesh."


"Out of the field": Saul continued to work as a farmer while waiting for the time to answer Israel's expectations of him as the king.


Their weeping had been so loud, that it found the ears of Saul. It appears that Saul had been working in the field, and came home at the end of the work day. He did not, even now, consider himself king.


1 Samuel 11:6 "And the spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly."


"The Spirit of God came upon Saul": To fill him with divine indignation and to empower him to deliver the citizens of Jabesh-gilead (10:6).


This is the very same statement that was made, every time the power of God came upon Samson. Saul was a weak man, but the power of God in Saul made him a mighty warrior. He was very angry, when he heard they were going to poke out the right eyes of the men at Jabesh.


1 Samuel 11:7 "And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent [them] throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen. And the fear of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out with one consent."


"Hewed them in pieces": Saul divided the oxen in sections to be taken throughout Israel to rouse the people for battle (see a similar action in Judges 19:29; 20:6).


These were the oxen that Saul had been plowing with. He killed them and cut them in little pieces, then sent them throughout Israel. He threatened to do the same thing to their oxen, if they did not come and help him fight these wicked Ammonites and especially this serpent, Nahash. The fear of the LORD caused all the armies of Israel to come, and fight these Ammonites. Saul and Samuel would lead the battle.


1 Samuel 11:8 "And when he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand."


"Bezek": A city 13 miles north of Shechem and 17 miles west of Jabesh-gilead.


"Children of Israel ... men of Judah": This distinction made between Israel and Judah after the kingdom was divided indicates the book was written after 931 B.C. when the kingdom had been divided.


Bezek was in the land of Issachar. Saul is the acting commander-in-chief of the army. He numbered the people, to make sure they had all come. This is one of the first mentions of the tribe of Israel separate from the tribe of Judah. All together the army had 330,000 fighting men.


1 Samuel 11:9 "And they said unto the messengers that came, Thus shall ye say unto the men of Jabesh-gilead, Tomorrow, by [that time] the sun be hot, ye shall have help. And the messengers came and showed [it] to the men of Jabesh; and they were glad."


From Jabesh-gilead, that is, Saul and Samuel said to them, as follows.


"Thus shall ye say unto the men of Jabesh-gilead": When they returned unto them, as they were now departing.


"Tomorrow, by that time the sun be hot": When it smites with the greatest heat, as at noon: this tomorrow seems not to be the next from their return home, or going from Saul, but the tomorrow after they were gotten home, and should deliver the message to those that sent them (1 Sam. 11:10). And so Josephus says, it was on the third day the assistance was promised them.


"Ye shall have help": Saul with his army by that time would come and raise the siege: and the messengers came and showed it to the men of Jabesh. What Saul had promised, and what a numerous army he had raised and had now upon the march for their relief. And tomorrow would be with them.


"And they were glad": It was good news and glad tidings to them; it cheered their hearts, and gave them spirit.


The messengers that the elders had sent for help would take the message back that help was on the way. By noon the next day, they would be there to help fight against the Ammonites. Saul will have his first opportunity to lead his people in battle. The messengers made it back through to the elders with the good report.


1 Samuel 11:10 "Therefore the men of Jabesh said, Tomorrow we will come out unto you, and ye shall do with us all that seemeth good unto you."


This was said To Nahash the Ammonite.


"Tomorrow we will come out unto you": Meaning if they had no help, which they were well assured they should have. But this condition they expressed not, which they were not obliged to, but left him to conclude they had no hope of any, the messengers being returned, and the next being the last of the seven days' respite. And by this deception the Ammonites were secure, and not at all upon their guard against an approaching enemy.


"And ye shall do with us all that seemeth good unto you": Make shows of them, pluck out their eyes, or put them to death, or do what they would with them.


The men of Jabesh stall for a little more time, by telling these Ammonites they are going to give up the next day.


1 Samuel 11:11 "And it was [so] on the morrow, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the host in the morning watch, and slew the Ammonites until the heat of the day: and it came to pass, that they which remained were scattered, so that two of them were not left together."`


"Three companies": A military strategy of dividing up forces, it lessened the possibility of losing everyone to a sneak attack while giving greater military options.


"In the morning watch": The last of the 3 watches (2:00 - 6:00 a.m.), this surprise attack was before dawn, before the Ammonites were prepared for battle.


The "morning watch" (from 2.00 to 6:00 a.m., or sunrise), was the third watch of the night. For the first watch (from sunset until 10:00 p.m.; see Lamentations 2:19); for the second watch (10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.; see Judges 7:19). The division into "three" attacking "companies" was a common military tactic (Judges 7:16; 1 Sam. 13:17).


Saul did not even wait until noon the next day. He separated the men into 3 groups and all of them attacked the Ammonites at once from three different directions. There was a great slaughter of Ammonites. It seems so there was just a small remnant left.


Verses 12-15: The ceremony at "Gilgal" was a religious coronation, whereas the events (in 10:17-25), were political. Saul's victory rallied enthusiasm and support for him from the people. Samuel used this opportunity to help Israel renew its allegiance to God. The inauguration of Saul as its earthly king in no way diminished God as the one true King.


1 Samuel 11:12 "And the people said unto Samuel, Who [is] he that said, Shall Saul reign over us? bring the men, that we may put them to death."


The great weight and influence of the seer among the people is strikingly shown by this record of their turning to him, even in the first flush of this great victory of Saul's. It was Samuel to whom the people looked to bring to punishment the men who had dared to question the wisdom of electing Saul as king. It should be remembered too, that the royal summons to Israel which accompanied the bloody war-signal of King Saul, ran in the joint names of Saul and Samuel (see 1 Sam. 11:7).


We remember that the sons of Belial had complained about Saul ruling over them. The people are so delighted with the outcome of this battle; they want to kill everyone who thinks Saul should not be king. They bring their suggestion to Samuel. Possibly they remember that Saul would not punish them before, when they said this.


1 Samuel 11:13 "And Saul said, There shall not a man be put to death this day: for today the LORD hath wrought salvation in Israel."


"The Lord hath wrought salvation in Israel": Saul recognized the deliverance of the Lord and refused to kill those who had rebelled against his kingship (10:27).


Saul stops them from killing any of the Israelites. This is a day they should thank God for giving them this great victory. It is not a day for killing their own people. Saul places all the praise on the LORD for saving them. He is a modest man at this point. He is fully aware it is the power of God working in him, that brought the great victory.



Verses 14-15: (See the note on 10:1).


1 Samuel 11:14 "Then said Samuel to the people, Come, and let us go to Gilgal, and renew the kingdom there."


"Gilgal" (see note on 10:8).


"Renew the kingdom": The reaffirmation of Saul's kingship by public acclamation.


The sanctuary was at Gilgal. This is a day of rejoicing before the LORD, and a day of formally accepting Saul as their king. With this victory behind them, everyone would want him to be king.


1 Samuel 11:15 "And all the people went to Gilgal; and there they made Saul king before the LORD in Gilgal; and there they sacrificed sacrifices of peace offerings before the LORD; and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly."


"They made Saul king before the Lord": All the people came to crown Saul king that day. The process of entering the kingship was the same for both Saul and David:


(1) Commissioned by the Lord (9:1-10:16; 16:1-13);


(2) Confirmed by military victory (10:17-11:11; 16:14-2 Sam. 1:21); and


(3) Crowned (11:12-15; 2 Sam. 2:4; 5:3).


Saul is now their recognized king. All of the ceremonies were witnessed by the LORD in Gilgal. The sacrifices were celebrating the peace, after this great battle they had just been in. Saul had already been made king by the LORD. He had already been anointed by Samuel.


This was a celebration of him accepting the office of king, and the people accepting him. This was a time of celebrating victory over the Ammonites.


1 Samuel Chapter 11 Questions


1. Who brought his troops, and camped against Jabesh-gilead?


2. Where is Jabesh-gilead located?


3. "Nahash" means ___________.


4. Why did the Ammonites hate Israel?


5. What were the men of Jabesh-gilead willing to do, to avoid war with the Ammonites?


6. What condition did the Ammonite make?


7. Why did he want to do such a terrible thing?


8. How much time did they ask Nahash for, before the battle?


9. If they could not find a man to save them, what would they do?


10. Where was Saul at this time?


11. Did they come and tell Saul?


12. What did the people do, when they were told of the terrible fate awaiting Jabesh-gilead?


13. Where had Saul come in from, when he heard the weeping?


14. The _______ of God came upon Saul.


15. His ________ was kindled greatly.


16. Saul was a weak man, but became powerful by the power of _______ within him.


17. What did he do with a yoke of his oxen?


18. What did he threaten to do to those, who did not come and help him fight these Ammonites?


19. How many of Israel came to fight?


20. How many of Judah came?


21. What message did they send back to Jabesh-gilead?


22. How did the men of Jabesh-gilead stall the Ammonites another day?


23. When did Saul attack?


24. How had he divided his troops?


25. Who won the battle?


26. What did the people tell Samuel, they wanted to do with those opposed to following Saul?


27. What was Saul's answer to this request?


28. Samuel told the people to come with him to ________.


29. What do they do in Gilgal?


30. He was already anointed as king, what is the celebration, here, for?





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1 Samuel 12



1 Samuel Chapter 12

Verses 1-3: It is unclear when this speech took place; but the sentence structure at the end of the previous chapter suggests it was not given at the same time as the events of chapter 11. Samuel reasserted his authority, perhaps partly as a way of providing an example for Saul. His work on behalf of the people was not for personal gain.


1 Samuel 12:1 "And Samuel said unto all Israel, Behold, I have hearkened unto your voice in all that ye said unto me, and have made a king over you."


"I have hearkened unto your voice": Samuel had obeyed the will of the Lord and the people and set the king of God's choice over them, though he had personal reservations concerning the monarchy.


Samuel's "farewell address" did not end his public ministry (verse 23 with 15:1-3, 13-35; 16:10-13). He continued to minister in priestly and prophetic functions. (For the death of Samuel, see 25:1). After his introductory remarks (verses 1-5), the theme of Samuel's message becomes a sermonic warning: obedience brings God's blessings but disobedience merits only His reproof.


Samuel did not want them to have an earthly king, because he felt it offended God. God told Samuel to bow to the wishes of the people and give them a king. One thing this did do; was to take all authority away from Samuel's evil sons. In answer to their request, they now have a king. His name is Saul. Saul would be their military leader and their civil leader. Samuel was still the leader of the spiritual side of their life. Samuel continues in his office as judge and prophet. The difference is, now for the first time, Israel has an earthly king.


1 Samuel 12:2 "And now, behold, the king walketh before you: and I am old and grayheaded; and, behold, my sons [are] with you: and I have walked before you from my childhood unto this day."


"I am old and gray-headed": And therefore, unable to bear the burden of government, and feel myself greatly at ease to see it cast upon other shoulders. And therefore, do not speak what I am about to say from envy of Saul's advancement, or from discontent at the diminution of my own power.


"My sons are with you": Or among you, in the same stake and place, private persons, as you are; if they have injured any of you in their government, as you once complained, the law is now open against them. Any of you may accuse them, your king can punish them; I do not intercede for them. I have neither power nor will to keep them from receiving the just fruits of their misdemeanors.


"I have walked before you": Been your guide and governor, partly as a prophet, and partly as a judge.


We still do not know just how old he is speaking of. I believe he is saying he is too old to lead them militarily. Some of the weight of the people has been removed from him. Samuel will still be involved in the morality of the nation, but will not lead them in their battles against the Philistines and other enemies. His sons have been removed from their positions. They are part of the people now and they will be shown no special favors. Samuel reminds them, that he has been in the service of the LORD since his childhood (probably from the age of 3 years old). His entire life has been spent in the service of the LORD. His mother dedicated him before his birth.


1 Samuel 12:3 "Behold, here I [am]: witness against me before the LORD, and before his anointed: whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or whom have I defrauded? whom have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received [any] bribe to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it you."


"Here I am": These familiar words for Samuel throughout his entire life (3:4-6, 8, 16), emphasized his availability to God and the people.


"Witness": Samuel requested the people to "bear witness against" any covenant stipulations that he had violated.


Samuel was above reproach. He had done none of these evil things. It was his sons who had taken bribes. Samuel had never received anything from anyone to sway his favor in judgment. There has never even been a charge made against Samuel. Everyone knew of his honesty and integrity.


1 Samuel 12:4 "And they said, Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man's hand."


One in the name of the rest or they all cried out as one man.


"Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us": Had done them no wrong, neither privately or publicly, by fraud or by force.


"Neither hast thou taken ought of any man's hand": As a gift, present, or bribe, to find for his cause. Some would infer hence that he took nothing of them for his support and maintenance, and that he lived upon his own substance; but that is not likely or reasonable; it was but just that they should support him and his family suitably to his character as a judge, whose whole life was spent in their service.


This is a vote of confidence that the people gave Samuel. They knew that Samuel had been an upright judge in all he judged. There was no mark against him.



Verses 5-15: Samuel uses courtroom terminology to remind Israel of God's past faithfulness. (In verses 1-5), Samuel was on trial; he becomes the accuser here, charging the Israelites with apostasy before God the Judge. God's "righteous acts" toward Israel proved His covenant faithfulness, while Israel's pleas for an earthly king proved their faithlessness.


1 Samuel 12:5 "And he said unto them, The LORD [is] witness against you, and his anointed [is] witness this day, that ye have not found ought in my hand. And they answered, [He is] witness."


Then Samuel again, with increased solemnity, called the Eternal in the heavens above and His anointed king then standing by his side to witness what the people had just acknowledged concerning his scrupulously just rule.


"And they answered, He is witness": And the assembly of Israel, again with one voice, shouted, Yes, He is witness.


This was the same thing as taking an oath that he had never taken from any of them. When God is witness, it serves as an oath.


1 Samuel 12:6 "And Samuel said unto the people, [It is] the LORD that advanced Moses and Aaron, and that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt."


Having cleared and established his own character, he proceeds to lay before the people some of the great things God had done for them formerly, and quite down to the present time, the more to aggravate their ingratitude in rejecting God as their King.


"It is the Lord that advanced Moses and Aaron": Raised them from a low estate, the one in a foreign country in Midian, the other in bondage in Egypt, to be deliverers, guides, and governors of his people Israel. Kimchi thinks this refers to what goes before, and that the sense is, that God, that raised Moses and Aaron to great honor and dignity, was a witness between him and the people; in which he is followed by some Christian interpreters. Ben Gersom makes mention of the same, but rather approves of the connection of the words with what follows, as does Abarbinel, and is doubtless most correct; the Targum is, "who hath done mighty things by the hands of Moses and Aaron:"


"And that brought your fathers up out of the land of Egypt": When they were in bondage there and that by the means of Moses and Aaron, by whose hands he wrought signs and wonders and inflicted plagues on the Egyptians, which made them willing at last to let Israel go.


Moses and Aaron were from poor Hebrew families serving as slaves in Egypt. It was the LORD who chose them out of this situation, and made them the leaders of Israel. It was the LORD, working through Moses that caused the Pharaoh to let the people go. God was their King, and his servants (Moses and Aaron), brought the children out of Egypt; after the ten plagues fell on Egypt.


1 Samuel 12:7 "Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD of all the righteous acts of the LORD, which he did to you and to your fathers."


"May reason with you before the Lord": Despite the nation being unified under the new king, Samuel still wanted to rebuke the nation for ignoring and rejecting what God had done without a king.


Samuel is explaining to them, that they had a King who was greater than any earthly king. Samuel wants them to recognize where their help has come from all this time. The LORD of all the earth had been their King.


1 Samuel 12:8 "When Jacob was come into Egypt, and your fathers cried unto the LORD, then the LORD sent Moses and Aaron, which brought forth your fathers out of Egypt, and made them dwell in this place."


Now, in order, Samuel rehearses the deeds of loving-kindness done for Israel by this Eternal King. And first he mentions the wonders of the Exodus, and how, under that Divine guidance, they were guided through so many dangers safe into the land of Canaan, this place.


The families had not continued in the praise of the LORD for bringing them out of Egypt and putting them in this Promised Land, they now have. They had forgotten that the LORD opened the Red Sea for them to cross and get away from Pharaoh. They had forgotten that the LORD furnished them water to drink from the Rock. They had forgotten that the Lord miraculously fed them Manna from heaven 40 years in the wilderness. They had forgotten that it was the LORD who entrusted them with His law. They had forgotten the opening of the Jordan River, so they might pass over to their Promised Land. They forgot all the times He had fought their enemies for them.


1 Samuel 12:9 "And when they forgat the LORD their God, he sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor, and into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab, and they fought against them."


The worship of the Lord their God, as the Targum; that is, they fell into idolatry, which is a plain instance and proof of forgetfulness of God. For such that neglect his worship, and served idols, may be truly said to forget him.


"He sold them into the hand of Sisera, captain of the host of Hazor": "Who was general of the army of Jabin king of Canaan, who reigned in Hazor (Judges 4:2), where they are said to be sold into the hands of Jabin, here into the hands of Sisera. Because it is highly probable he was sent against them by Jabin, and subdued them, as he afterwards was sent by him, when they rebelled against him, and were delivered out of his hand.


"And into the hand of the Philistines": As they were in and before the times of Samson (Judges 13:1).


"And into the hand of the king of Moab": As in the times of Ehud (Judges 3:14). The exact order of these things is not observed.


"And they fought against them": The king of Moab, Sisera, and the Philistines, and overcame them, and so they fell into their hands.


Their problems came, when they were unfaithful to the LORD and sought false gods to worship. Even their troubles had come to drive them back to the LORD. He loved them and cared for them as a husband does a wife. They were unfaithful, and rebelled against Him at every chance.


1 Samuel 12:10 "And they cried unto the LORD, and said, We have sinned, because we have forsaken the LORD, and have served Baalim and Ashtaroth: but now deliver us out of the hand of our enemies, and we will serve thee."


As soon as they were convinced of their sin and rebellion, and accused themselves, and returned to their old allegiance, their invisible King, ever full of pity and tender compassion, forgave them, and sent them quick deliverance.


"And have served Baalim and Ashtaroth": Baal and Ashtaroth were the well-known leading Phoenician deities; the worship, with most of its details, was imported probably from Carthage, the great Phoenician center. The temple of Baal-shemesh, the Sun god, at Carthage, was renowned in that luxurious and splendid city. The plural form refers to the various personifications and different titles of the god and goddess.


See the note (on Judges 2:11-15).


Every time they repented, and cried out to the LORD for help, and turned from the false gods Ashteroth and Baalim, God helped them.


1 Samuel 12:11 "And the LORD sent Jerubbaal, and Bedan, and Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side, and ye dwelled safe."


"The Lord sent ... and delivered you": It was the Lord who delivered them through the hands of the judges, not themselves.


The identity of a judge named "Bedan" is not further known. The ancient Greek and Syria versions and the Arabic version read Barak. Since it is unlikely that "Samuel" would cite an otherwise unknown judge, who was too insignificant to be mentioned at all in the Book of Judges alongside men like Gideon, "Jephthah," and Samuel himself, and since Gideon and Barak are known to be linked together in praise elsewhere (Heb. 11:32), probably Barak is the judge intended.


And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, Or Gideon, as the Targum, for Jerubbaal was the name given to Gideon, when he first became a judge (Judges 6:32).


Note: Targum was an ancient Aramaic paraphrase or interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, of a type made from about the 1st century AD when Hebrew was declining as a spoken language.


And "Bedan"; if this was one of the judges, he must have two names, or is one that is not mentioned in the book of Judges; the Targum interprets it of Samson;


"Jephthah" was a very prominent judge as well. During the period, each judge was in power, their enemies had been subdued.


1 Samuel 12:12 "And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God [was] your king."


"When ye saw that Nahash the king of the children ... came against you": According to the Dead Sea Scrolls and Josephus, Nahash was campaigning over a large area. It was that Ammonite threat that seemingly provoked Israel to demand a human king (8:1-20).


"The Lord your God was your king": The clearest indictment of Israel for choosing a mere man to fight for her instead of the Lord God (8:20).


He had, probably, been threatening war on these people before they asked for an earthly king. Their heavenly King had delivered them over and over. They should have trusted in Him, but they did not. This is the climax of their unfaithfulness in the LORD as King.



Verses 13-14: Even though Israel had "chosen" an earthly king, they were to trust in God, viewing the king as an instrument of His rule. Nothing had changed in the covenant relationship between God and Israel.


1 Samuel 12:13 "Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, [and] whom ye have desired! and, behold, the LORD hath set a king over you."


"The king whom ye have chosen ... and desired": The Lord gave them their request (Psalm 106:15).


For the first time since Israel had been a nation, they now have an earthly king like the heathens around them. Saul is king of Israel.


1 Samuel 12:14 "If ye will fear the LORD, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the LORD your God:"


"Fear the Lord": A reminder of (Joshua 24:14). Israel was to stand in awe of the Lord and submit to Him (Deut. 10:12).


"Ye and ... the king ... following the Lord": Both the people and the king were given the same command. The standard was the same, obedience to God's commands.


This has been the condition of their blessings from the beginning. If they remain faithful to the LORD and keep His commandments, they shall be blessed tremendously. The king is subject to the laws and commandments of the LORD, as well as the people are. For Israel to do well, they must reverence the LORD and keep His commandments (with or without a king).


1 Samuel 12:15 "But if ye will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall the hand of the LORD be against you, as [it was] against your fathers."


"Rebel": "Disobey, not heed, forsake." Echoing the promises (of Deut. 28), there would be blessings for obeying and curses for disobeying the commands of the Lord.


It is the same throughout the Bible. When they become unfaithful to Him, and begin to follow after false gods, He will chastise them with defeat at the hands of their enemies.



The "wheat harvest" came at the end of the dry season, so rain was very unusual. The people understood the thunderstorm to be a supernatural sign of God's displeasure at their insistence on a king.


1 Samuel 12:16 "Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which the LORD will do before your eyes."


"This great thing": Though rain during the wheat harvest (late May to early June), was unusual, the Lord sent the rain and thunder to authenticate Samuel's words to the people.


He wants them to be totally aware, that it is the LORD who does this. It is not Samuel or Saul, it is the LORD. He may work through them, but it is the LORD.



Verses 17-18: For thunderstorms as a sign of the divine presence (see the note on 2:10). Coming during the "wheat harvest" of late spring, such an event would be a sure sign of divine condemnation.


1 Samuel 12:17 "[Is it] not wheat harvest today? I will call unto the LORD, and he shall send thunder and rain; that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness [is] great, which ye have done in the sight of the LORD, in asking you a king."


The Canaan wheat harvest is between the middle of May and the middle of June. Rain in that season seldom or never falls, but if it does it is usually severe. This is the testimony of one who spoke as a resident, and his statement is confirmed by the observations of the latest travelers and scholars. The terrible storm of rain accompanied with thunder, at a time of year when these storms of thunder and rain rarely took place, coming, as it did, in direct answer to the seer's invocation, struck the people naturally with great fear, and for the moment they thoroughly repented of the past, and entreated Samuel. Who, they felt, stood on strangely familiar terms with that awful yet loving Eternal, to intercede for them.


This would be an unnatural time for rain. Samuel is calling for this rain, to leave no doubt in the minds of the Israelites that the LORD is displeased that they want an earthly king. This is rejection of the LORD. They have been rejecting and rebelling against Him from the beginning. This is a sign to them of their great sin.


1 Samuel 12:18 "So Samuel called unto the LORD; and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day: and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel."


Such was the power and favor with God that this man of God possessed! By this thunder and rain, God showed them their folly in desiring a king to save them, rather than God or Samuel, expecting more from an arm of flesh than from the arm of God, or from the power of prayer. Could their king thunder with a voice like God? Could their prince command such forces as the prophet could by his prayers? Likewise he intimates that how serene whatever their condition was now, (like the weather in wheat-harvest), yet if God pleased he could soon change the face of the heavens, and persecute them with his storms.


At the very minute this is happening they recognize it as punishment for their sins. They greatly fear the LORD who can send rain at any given time. They fear Samuel, because he can pray and have an immediate answer. The problem with the fear they have now, is this is in the form of terror, rather than in reverence.



Verses 19-25: It is a believer's responsibility to "pray for" others even if he or she is displeased with them, as Samuel was with the Israelites. Amid his warnings to the people, Samuel offered a helpful model for intercessory prayer: pray that others will "fear" the Lord, "serve" Him wholeheartedly and in truth, and "consider" God's great deeds on their behalf (Matt. 5:44).


1 Samuel 12:19 "And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins [this] evil, to ask us a king."


"Pray for thy servants": The Peoples response to the power of God was their recognition of their sinful motives in asking for a king. They needed Samuel's prayers to intercede for them.


They fear that the LORD will be so angry with this latest sin, that He will kill them. They feel that Samuel has an access to the LORD that they do not have. This is why they ask him to pray.


1 Samuel 12:20 "And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart;"


"Serve the Lord with all your heart": An often-expressed covenant requirement (Deut. 10:12-13; 11:13-14).


There is no question, they have sinned. The LORD will forgive them, as He has so many times in the past, if they will turn from their wicked ways, and worship and serve Him. They must worship the LORD in their hearts and have faith and He will save them.


1 Samuel 12:21 "And turn ye not aside: for [then should ye go] after vain [things], which cannot profit nor deliver; for they [are] vain."


"Vain things": Meaning idols.


Those that go after vain things are those who chase after things of this world. He is saying, do not become worldly people. The things of this earth are the creations of God. They should worship the Creator, not His creation.


1 Samuel 12:22 "For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people."


The name of the "Lord" signifies His revealed character and reputation. Later, "name" came to be a term that could be substituted for God Himself (Dan. 9:8-19; Amos 2:7; 9:12), so that the pronunciation of the Hebrew word for the name (hashem), could be utilized for the unutterable divine Tetragrammaton " YHWH". The name was thus God Himself in all that He had revealed Himself to be. In the New Testament, the term became applied to Christ (Acts 4:12; 5:41; 3 John 7). For Israel as God's special "people" (see Exodus 19:5; Deut. 7:6; 14:2; 26:18).


God had chosen them out of all the people in the world to be His people. They are not only His creation, but His family. Everyone is God's creation. Those who love Him and accept Him as their Savior are His sons.


1 John 3:2 "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."


1 Samuel 12:23 "Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:"


Despite Israel's sin, Samuel loved Israel and Saul (16:1), and pledged his continued help, especially in praying for them and teaching them the Lord's standards. His love for them, however, would not dim his perspective as to what ways were "right" or wrong in Israel. He would do his divine duty of speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).


This is separating the office of the Judge and prophet from the office of the king. Samuel will still be responsible for the moral side of their lives. He will pray for them, and guide them into the truth about the Lord. Samuel will still judge them on moral issues. Samuel's service to the LORD was for his entire life. It would be a sin for Samuel not to continue in the service as Judge and prophet of God.


1 Samuel 12:24 "Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart; for consider how great [things] he hath done for you."


Fear him not with a servile fear, which is before advised against, but with a filial fear, a reverential affection for God; and includes the whole of religious worship, internal and external. Explained further; by serving him according to the truth of his word, and in a cordial, sincere, and affectionate manner. And if this was wanting in them, he suggests that his prayers and instructions would be of little avail, and not to be depended on.


"For consider how great things he hath done for you": In bringing them out of Egypt: settling them in the land of Canaan; giving them his laws, statutes, commands, and ordinances; sending prophets unto them, and raising up judges for them. And then bestowing all good things on them, in nature, providence, and grace; though some restrain this to the great thing he had done that day. To convince them of their sin, and by which they were returned to the Lord, namely, the violent storm of thunder; which wonderful instance of the power of God, and token of his displeasure against them. These they were to lay up in their minds, and not forget, that it might be a means of preserving them from sin for the future.


The fact that they now have a king does not alter the fact that they must reverence the LORD with all their hearts. Their first loyalty must be to the LORD. He has made them everything that they are. He has blessed them as long as they are faithful to Him. They must hang on to their faith now.


1 Samuel 12:25 "But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king."


Continue to rebel against God, revolt from him, and depart from his worship, and despise his prophets, and serve idols.


"Ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king": Their king would be so far from protecting, that he should perish with them, be killed by the sword, as Saul their first king was, or go into captivity, as others of their kings did.


The king or the people are not exempt from punishment if they turn away from the LORD to other gods. If they turn to wickedness and away from the One True God, they will be totally destroyed.


1 Samuel Chapter 12 Questions


1. Samuel did not want them to have an ___________ _________.


2. Why is Samuel giving them a king?


3. Who will be the king of Israel?


4. Who was still their leader in spiritual things?


5. How does Samuel describe himself in verse 2?


6. What has happened to the sons of Samuel?


7. How old was Samuel, when he began to minister?


8. What questions did Samuel ask the people in verse 3?


9. What did the people say to Samuel?


10. Verse 5 was the same as taking an _________.


11. Who advanced Moses and Aaron?


12. _____ was their King.


13. After the ______ ________ fell on Egypt, the Pharaoh let them go.


14. Their help had come from the _________.


15. What were some of the miracles God had done for them, they had forgotten?


16. What happened to them, when they forgot about God?


17. God loved them and cared for them as a ________ does a ______.


18. Who were the two false gods they worshipped?


19. Who was "Jerubbaal"?


20. What was "Jephthah"?


21. What happened to their enemies, every time there was a judge in power?


22. When did they demand an earthly king to lead them?


23. _______ is the king of Israel.


24. What was the condition of their blessings from God, from the beginning?


25. When did God chastise them?


26. Who chose their king?


27. What thing did Samuel pray for God to do, to show them He was displeased with them wanting an earthly king?


28. What effect did it have on the people when it happened?


29. What is wrong with their fear in verse 18?


30. Why are they begging Samuel to pray for them?


31. Those who go after vain things are those who chase after _________ __ _____ ________.


32. The Israelites are not only God's creation, but _______ _________.


33. How would it be possible for Samuel to sin?





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1 Samuel 13



1 Samuel Chapter 13

Verses 1-10: It was customary to never go against a foreign nation without first seeking God with sacrifices, offerings, and worship. But with the Philistines "gathered together" for battle and the Israelites "scattered" and afraid, Saul sinned in two ways here. By not obeying Samuel's command to wait and by offering sacrifices himself. Impatience is often the gateway to impulse, and impulse can lead to either foolishness or sin.


1 Samuel 13:1 "Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,"


Saul reigned one year, and nothing particular happened; but in his second year the events recorded in this chapter took place. For above a year he gave the Philistine time to prepare for war, and to weaken and to disarm the Israelites. When men are lifted up in self-sufficiency, they are often led into folly.


1 Samuel 13:2 "Saul chose him three thousand [men] of Israel; [whereof] two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in mount Beth-el, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin: and the rest of the people he sent every man to his tent."


"Michmash": This area was located about 7 miles northeast of Jerusalem.


"Jonathan": "The Lord has given." Saul's firstborn son and heir apparent to the throne was evidently old enough to serve as a commander in Israel's army at this time, much like David when he slew Goliath (1 Sam. 17:32-37).


"Gibeah of Benjamin": This city was located 3 miles north of Jerusalem. It was called Gibeah of Saul (in 11:4).


The first year of Saul's reign was a time of learning for him. He had never been trained to be a king. He was unsure of himself at first, as it took two years for him to settle into the job as king. At the end of the second year, he chose 3,000 men to serve him. This was probably like an honor guard that was chosen out of the entire army. In case of a major war, the other men would be called. This 3,000 would be ready at all times. Even in peace, they needed an army ready instantly. Two thousand of these men stayed with Saul. The other thousand he sent to Gibeah with his son Jonathan. These men were well-trained and were the choicest of the soldiers. Sometimes, a few well-trained can do more than a large army, who are not trained.


1 Samuel 13:3 "And Jonathan smote the garrison of the Philistines that [was] in Geba, and the Philistines heard [of it]. And Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, Let the Hebrews hear."


"Geba": This outpost was located about 5 miles north northeast of Jerusalem, 1-1/2 miles southwest of Michmash.


"Blew the trumpet": Saul used the trumpet to summon additional troops for battle.


This seemed to be an outpost for the Philistines. If Jonathan could take and hold this garrison, it would be a deterrent for the Philistines to attack Israel. This was on the way; they would have come if they attacked. When the trumpet blows, this calls all of Israel to war. When the Hebrews hear the trumpet, they know it is a call to arms.


1 Samuel 13:4 "And all Israel heard say [that] Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines, and [that] Israel also was had in abomination with the Philistines. And the people were called together after Saul to Gilgal."


"Abomination": Israel could expect retaliation from the Philistines for Jonathan's raid.


"Gilgal": This is the town of Saul's confirmation as king by Samuel and the people (11:14-15). Saul chose Gilgal because of Samuel's word (in 10:8).


This was a favorite place of assembly for all of the people. Saul knew the terrible hate that the Philistines had for Israel. He also knew that the Philistines were planning a war against Israel. Saul made the first strike, or at least Jonathan struck the first blow successfully. Since Saul is king, it could be classified as his victory as well.


1 Samuel 13:5 "And the Philistines gathered themselves together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots, and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which [is] on the sea shore in multitude: and they came up, and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Beth-aven."


"Thirty thousand chariots": This is probably a scribal error, since the number is too large for the corresponding horsemen. Three thousand is more reasonable and is found in some Old Testament manuscripts.


"Michmash" (see note on 13:2).


"Beth-aven": Literally "house of nothingness." It was less than one mile southwest of Michmash.


The topography of the battle area would seem to preclude the use of "thirty thousand chariots." Moreover, in similar descriptions of the ratio of charioteers and chariots, the number of chariots is always significantly smaller (2 Sam. 10:18; 1 King 10:26). Such a sizable force is unprecedented even among the major powers of the ancient Near East. Because of these facts, the reading of "three thousand" in the ancient Syriac translation, as supported by some manuscripts of the Septuagint and the Arabic Bible, may well be correct.


Saul had moved to Gilgal from Michmash. These, mentioned above, are a large, well-equipped army that the Philistines brought up quickly. This proves they were already planning to attack Israel.


1 Samuel 13:6 "When the men of Israel saw that they were in a strait, (for the people were distressed,) then the people did hide themselves in caves, and in thickets, and in rocks, and in high places, and in pits."


Though their wonderful success against the Ammonites had encouraged them to obey the summons of such a prosperous leader as Saul had been; yet when they saw the vast army of the Philistines, how well they were appointed, and themselves not provided. Their hearts failed them, and they slunk away from him as fast as they had flocked to him. The people were distressed, notwithstanding their former presumption, that if they had a king they would be free from all such difficulties and distresses. Hereby God intended to teach them the vanity of confidence in men; and that they did not one jot less need his help now than they did when they had no king. And probably they were the more discouraged, because they did not find Samuel with Saul. Sooner or later men will be made to see that God and his prophets are their best friends.


We see from this, that the people had soon forgotten their victory over the Ammonites. They are badly frightened by all of this war machinery and run and hide in the hills and caves. We remember that Saul had 2,000 chosen men stationed here to fight if necessary.


1 Samuel 13:7 "And [some of] the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he [was] yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling."


"Gad and Gilead": Areas east of the Jordan River.


"All the people followed him trembling": The people were in fear over probable Philistine retaliation.


This is speaking of the people who did not hide in the caves and pits. It seems, they quickly ran to Gilgal, where Saul had gone to bring the Hebrew army together. Some of the Hebrews had gone over the Jordan and hid in Gad and Gilead. They do not seem to be very brave.



Verses 8-12: Saul's self-will surfaces early in his reign as he has clearly disobeyed the previous command of "Samuel" (10:8). Samuel's tarrying may have been designed as a test of Saul's character. The Hebrew verb (in verse 9), may indicate that "Saul" did not personally offer the sacrifices, but merely had them made by the Levitical priests. Even if this were the case, his action was ill-advised and a violation of Samuel's instructions. Further, it was done with the full knowledge that Samuel himself intended to officiate at the sacrificial ceremony.


1 Samuel 13:8 "And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel [had appointed]: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him."


"Seven days ... the set time that Samuel had appointed": This is a direct reference to Samuel's word (in 10:8). Saul was commanded to wait 7 days to meet Samuel in Gilgal.


"The people were scattered from him": Saul's men were deserting him because of anxiety and fear over the coming battle.


It seems, from this, that Samuel advised Saul to stay seven days at Gilgal. Samuel had not gone with them to Gilgal. This would be Israel's war for independence from these Philistines.


1 Samuel 13:9 "And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering."


"He offered the burnt offering": Saul's sin was not specifically that he made a sacrifice (2 Sam. 24:25; 1 Kings 8:62-64), but that he did not wait for priestly assistance from Samuel (see 10:8). He wished to rule as an autocrat, who possessed absolute power in civil and sacred matters. Samuel had wanted the 7 days as a test of Saul's character and obedience to God, but Saul failed it by invading the priestly office himself.


It appears that Saul had decided that Samuel was not coming and offered the burnt offering himself.


1 Samuel 13:10 "And it came to pass, that as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might salute him."


Scarcely does the sacrificial ceremony appear to have been completed when the seer appeared on the scene. It was the seventh day, according to the solemn injunction given to the king, but Saul, in his impatience, had not waited till the end of the day.


"Saul went out to meet him.": The reverence which the king, in spite of his disobedience, felt for Samuel is displayed in his going out to meet him thus publicly. This deep feeling of the king for the great prophet to whom he felt he owed so much existed on Saul's part all the days of Samuel's life, and, as we shall see, even after Samuel's death.


We see that Saul still liked for Samuel to decide many of the things they did. Perhaps, he wanted to make sure, that these things were in the will of God. This is the seventh day that Samuel had told them to wait until. Saul runs out to meet him to receive a blessing.



Verses 11-14: Saul's justification seemed reasonable, but his actions were ultimately disobedient. Saul's punishment was severe, the loss of the kingdom; but it opened the way for David and the messianic line. The next two chapters of 1 Samuel outline the transfer of the kingship to David.


1 Samuel 13:11 "And Samuel said, What hast thou done? And Saul said, Because I saw that the people were scattered from me, and [that] thou camest not within the days appointed, and [that] the Philistines gathered themselves together at Michmash;"


"Because I saw": Saul reacted disobediently based upon what he saw and not by faith. He feared losing his men and did not properly consider what God would have him do.


Instead of a blessing, Saul receives a reprimand from Samuel. The seven days had been a test for Saul. Saul got impatient and sinned when he offered the burnt offering himself. Samuel cannot believe that Saul would take it upon himself to sacrifice. Saul was a civil leader, not a spiritual leader. He had no right to sacrifice. We see that Saul gives excuses, some of which are not true. Samuel did come on the seventh day, as he had said he would. Even had he not come, Saul should not have sacrificed.


1 Samuel 13:12 "Therefore said I, The Philistines will come down now upon me to Gilgal, and I have not made supplication unto the LORD: I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering."


Saul had come from Michmash to Gilgal, expecting to gather the force of the whole nation around him. Instead of that, the people fled, leaving him in the exposed plain with only 600 men (1 Sam. 13:15). The Philistines occupied Michmash, and might at any moment pour down the valley upon Gilgal. Saul's situation was obviously one of extreme peril. A few hours' delay might prove fatal to him and his little army.


"I forced myself therefore, and offered a burnt offering": It was reluctance to him, and it was against his will as well as the command of Samuel, to offer before he came. He suggests; but such were the circumstances he was in, that he was obliged to it; these are the reasons or excuses he made, and some of them have a specious appearance.


Perhaps, Saul's fear caused him to do this thing. Saul felt that the sacrifice should be made before the battle and the Philistines were bearing down upon them. In this moment of fear, he had done a terrible thing.


1 Samuel 13:13 "And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the LORD thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the LORD have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever."


"Thou hast not kept the commandment": Saul's disobedience was a direct violation of the command from Samuel (in 10:8).


"Thy kingdom ... forever": How could this be in light of God's promise to Judah (Gen. 49:10)? This would correct the potential contradiction of Saul being from Benjamin, not Judah.


The prophetic promise of an eternal dominion in "Israel" for the house of Judah (Gen. 49:10), was made in the light of God's ordaining foreknowledge of Saul's self-will. Saul's disobedience illustrates well Samuel's previous warning (12:14-15; 24-25).


The most important thing for Saul to do; was to listen to Samuel on spiritual matters and do exactly as he was commanded. He had broken the commandment of the LORD spoken through Samuel. This will mean that Saul's kingship will not last forever. He will be replaced by someone more pleasing to God.


1 Samuel 13:14 "But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him [to be] captain over his people, because thou hast not kept [that] which the LORD commanded thee."


"A man after his own heart": Instead of Saul, God was going to choose one whose heart was like His own, i.e., one who had a will to obey God. Paul quotes this passage (in Acts 13:22; of David 16:7).


"Captain": Someone else, namely David, had already been chosen to be God's leader over His people.


This is speaking of God choosing David, but he would be a mere child at this time. God knows the end, as well as the beginning. Even though David has not been anointed yet, God knows he will be. God's disappointment in Saul is shown through Samuel's words here. Certainly, the man that God would choose would not be perfect, but would love God and try to keep His commandments.


1 Samuel 13:15 "And Samuel arose, and gat him up from Gilgal unto Gibeah of Benjamin. And Saul numbered the people [that were] present with him, about six hundred men."


"From Gilgal unto Gibeah": This was about a 10 mile trip westward. Samuel left Saul, realizing that Saul's kinship was doomed.


"Six hundred men": This indicates the mass departure of the Israelites (verse 6), and gives a perspective on what Saul saw (verse 5).


It seems that Saul went back home and Samuel went by there on his way to his home. Saul had 2,000 men surrounding him. This may mean that the 2,000 men he had were now dwindled down to 600.


1 Samuel 13:16 "And Saul, and Jonathan his son, and the people [that were] present with them, abode in Gibeah of Benjamin: but the Philistines encamped in Michmash."


Who were now joined to their men, on Saul's coming to Gibeah.


"And the people that were present with them": The six hundred men before numbered: abode in Gibeah of Benjamin; being perhaps a strong fortified place, not choosing to go forth to meet the army of the Philistines, so vastly superior to them.


"But the Philistines encamped at Michmash": The old quarters of Saul before he went to Gilgal (1 Sam. 13:2).


We see that Jonathan has come in to help Saul fight against the Philistines if they attack. They have grouped around the city where they live.


1 Samuel 13:17 "And the spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned unto the way [that leadeth to] Ophrah, unto the land of Shual:"


"Spoilers ... in three companies": Literally these were "destroyers" in the Philistine army, divided into 3 groups.


The spoilers of course, are speaking of the Philistines. They have divided themselves into three groups to come against Saul and his people. It appears they could have taken Saul better, when he was coming home, or when Jonathan was coming home; but they waited to taunt Saul the more. Now, they feel they have already defeated Saul, and they will attack him at will.


1 Samuel 13:18 "And another company turned the way [to] Beth-horon: and another company turned [to] the way of the border that looketh to the valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness."


Of which name there were two cities, the upper and nether, and both in the tribe of Ephraim (of which see Joshua 16:3). This lay northwest from the camp of the Philistines at Michmash; eight miles from it, according to Bunting.


"And another company turned to the way of the border, that looketh towards the valley of Zeboim, toward the wilderness": Some take this to be the Zeboim which was destroyed with Sodom and Gomorrah. And the wilderness, the wilderness of Jordan; but as that, so the valley in which it stood, was turned into a bituminous lake. This seems to be a city in the land of Benjamin (Neh. 11:34), near to which was a valley, and this towards the wilderness of Jericho, and so lay eastward.


It seems that the Philistines were so sure they would win the battle, that they had divided their men into three groups to attack three different fronts at once.



Verses 19-22: Because the Philistines were skilled in highly prized metalworks, the Israelites were limited in battle to slingshots and bows and arrows. However, God's power more than compensated for Israel's military disadvantage (14:6).


1 Samuel 13:19 "Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make [them] swords or spears:"


"No smith": The Philistines had superior iron and metal-working craftsmen until David's time, accounting for their formidable military force. At this time, the Philistines enjoyed a monopoly on iron and the smith (1 Chron. 22:3).


This is not the entire land of Israel that did not have smiths to make swords or spears. It seems this particular area had no smiths. These Philistines felt as if they were going against an army without weapons.


1 Samuel 13:20 "But all the Israelites went down to the Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his mattock."


"Mattock": A pickax to work the ground by hand.


1 Samuel 13:21 "Yet they had a file for the mattocks, and for the coulters, and for the forks, and for the axes, and to sharpen the goads."


The Philistines charged a high price to sharpen instruments potentially that could be used against them.


The wording of the Hebrew text is difficult. Another possible translation of the verse is: "And the charge was two-thirds shekel for sharpening the plowshares and the "mattocks," and one-third shekel for sharpening the "forks" and "axes," and for fixing the "goads."


It appears that the Benjamites had been dependent upon the Philistines to sharpen their farm instruments. We are not told why this condition existed. Perhaps, the Philistines had some kind of hold on the Benjamites. It seems they did have small files to keep their farm instruments sharp, after they had been sharpened.


1 Samuel 13:22 "So it came to pass in the day of battle, that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that [were] with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found."


"Neither sword nor spear": The Philistines had a distinct military advantage over Israel since they had a monopoly on iron weapons.


This was an ill-equipped army of a handful of men. Saul and Jonathan were the only two who had a sword and a spear. The other men had clubs and crude instruments of their trade.


1 Samuel 13:23 "And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash."


"The passage of Michmash": Some of the Philistines had moved out to a pass leading to Michmash.


This seems that, the Philistines have cut off the pass, to keep the people of Saul from escaping, or getting help from that direction. This is a very bad situation for Saul and his men.


1 Samuel Chapter 13 Questions


1. When did Saul choose out men to make up his guard?


2. How many men did he choose for his army?


3. He sent 1,000 men with _____________.


4. Jonathan smote the ___________ of the Philistines.


5. What did Saul do, to bring the other Hebrews together?


6. The blowing of the trumpet was a ________ to __________.


7. Where did Saul go, to meet with all the people?


8. Why had Saul made the first strike against the Philistines?


9. How many chariots did the Philistines bring, to fight against Saul and his men?


10. How many horsemen did they bring?


11. Where had Saul gone from Michmash?


12. The people have already forgotten the victory over the ______________.


13. Where did they run and hide from the Philistines?


14. Some of the people went over Jordan to the land of _______.


15. Who told Saul to wait 7 days?


16. What terrible thing did Saul do, spoken of in verse 9?


17. Why did Saul do this?


18. When did Samuel come?


19. Why did Saul run out to meet him?


20. What did Saul receive from Samuel?


21. What excuse did Saul give for offering the burnt offering?


22. Saul was a _______ leader, not a _________ leader.


23. Perhaps, Saul's ________ caused him to do this thing.


24. What has this moment of foolishness cost Saul?


25. Who is verse 14 speaking of being chosen?


26. How many did Saul number in verse 15?


27. Where did Saul and Jonathan abide?


28. The spoilers of the Philistines came out of the camp in ________ ___________.


29. There was no _________ found throughout all the land of Israel.


30. Who had the Israelites been dependent upon, to sharpen their farm instruments?


31. Who were the only people, who had a sword, or a spear?





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1 Samuel 14



1 Samuel Chapter 14

1 Samuel 14:1 "Now it came to pass upon a day, that Jonathan the son of Saul said unto the young man that bare his armor, Come, and let us go over to the Philistines' garrison, that [is] on the other side. But he told not his father."


"Jonathan" was the eldest son of Saul, the first king of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin. Initially, Jonathan served as Saul's right-hand man and lieutenant (verses 11, 13-14; 13:2 where he commanded one thousand men). Later, Jonathan became such a close friend of David that he not only supported David against his father (Chapters 18-19), but relinquished his undoubted claim to become Saul's successor in favor of David (Chapter 20). Finally, Jonathan died at Gilboa during Saul's last campaign against the Philistines (Chapter 31). Jonathan was a man of fine character, whose moral integrity was matched by resolution and endurance. He was athletic and brave (verse 13; 2 Sam. 1:22-27). Jonathan will always be remembered for befriending David. Jonathan and David represent the highest ideal of Hebrew friendship. Jonathan's descendants were famous soldiers who were, like their ancestors, skilled at shooting with the bow (1 Chron. 8:40).


"The other side": Jonathan and his armor-bearer left the Israeli camp to approach the Philistine outpost.


Jonathan seemed to be much braver than Saul. We do not know specifically what day this happens. It was however, after the happenings (in chapter 13). Jonathan told no one, but his armor-bearer. It would be much easier for the two of them to slip close to the Philistines without being detected. He probably did not tell his father, because his father would have stopped him. I would believe the LORD put this idea in the heart of Jonathan.


1 Samuel 14:2 "And Saul tarried in the uttermost part of Gibeah under a pomegranate tree which [is] in Migron: and the people that [were] with him [were] about six hundred men;"


"Pomegranate tree": These trees are common to Israel's landscape, normally growing as low shrubs with spreading branches. This may have been a particularly large one.


It seems that, Saul was relaxing with his men in Gibeah. More specifically, they were in Migron. It seems Saul was sitting in the shade under the pomegranate tree. 600 of the men were with Saul. They were probably near enough to help, if Jonathan needed them. Saul did not know where Jonathan was, but God knew.


1 Samuel 14:3 "And Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, Ichabod's brother, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eli, the LORD'S priest in Shiloh, wearing an ephod. And the people knew not that Jonathan was gone."


"Ahiah": "Brother of the Lord." He was the great-grandson of Eli the High-Priest, another house which had been rejected of the Lord (2:22-36).


"Wearing an ephod": The ephod was a white garment worn by the priest that was attached to the body by a belt. A breastpiece worn over the ephod had pouches that were used by the priests to carry certain devices used in determining the will of God, i.e., the Urim and Thummim, or sacred lots (see note on Exodus 28:5-13). Apparently, Saul chose not to use it for seeking the Lord's will.


We remember from a previous lesson that Phinehas was one of the two sons of Eli, who sinned greatly against God. We remember that, Ichabod received his name, because of the sins of his father. Ahitub had to be a younger brother. Ahiah, the son of Ahitub, had been restored to the priesthood at this time. He had on the ephod, so he must have been high priest. "Ahiah" means brother of Jehovah. Ahiah was in charge of the Ark. The Ark was kept at Shiloh. They had no idea that Jonathan had gone to the Philistines.


1 Samuel 14:4 "And between the passages, by which Jonathan sought to go over unto the Philistines' garrison, [there was] a sharp rock on the one side, and a sharp rock on the other side: and the name of the one [was] Bozez, and the name of the other Seneh."


"Bozez ... Seneh": Hebrew terms. Bozez may mean "Slippery." Seneh means "thorny".


These two rocks seemed to guard the entrance to this garrison. It seemed this was a natural garrison protected by high rocks on three sides.


1 Samuel 14:5 "The forefront of the one [was] situate northward over against Michmash, and the other southward over against Gibeah."


The northern precipice of this rock was towards Michmash, where the Philistines lay encamped, and where was the passage of Michmash the garrison went into and possessed.


"And the other southward, over against Gibeah": The southern precipice faced Gibeah, and both precipices were to be got over before he could get to the garrison, these lying between the two passages; the one at one end, called the passage of Michmash, the other at the other, which might be called the passage of Gibeah.


These were two lookout stations for the entire garrison.



Verse 6-17: Calling the Philistines "uncircumcised" was a term of contempt emphasizing the covenant relationship Israel enjoyed with God (Gen. 17:10-14). Jonathan trusted God, while Saul was more concerned about the number of men in his army (13:15).


1 Samuel 14:6 "And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armor, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the LORD will work for us: for [there is] no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few."


"Uncircumcised": This was a derogatory term used by the Israelites to describe the Philistines.


"By many or by few": Jonathan demonstrated the great faith that should have been demonstrated by the king (13:11).


Jonathan had great faith in the LORD. He knew that he and his armor-bearer would be a majority, if the LORD was with them. The fact that Jonathan mentioned them being uncircumcised, shows that he believes God is with him and not with the Philistines. The Israelites had a covenant agreement with the LORD. Jonathan has no fear that the LORD will be with him and his armor-bearer. Two can put ten thousand to flight, if the two are in the perfect will of God.


1 Samuel 14:7 "And his armor-bearer said unto him, Do all that [is] in thine heart: turn thee; behold, I [am] with thee according to thy heart."


He will do readily and cheerfully.


"Do all that is in thine heart": Whatever is thy pleasure, that thou hast a mind to do; that is upon thy heart, and thou art desirous of, and strongly inclined and affected to.


"Turn thee": Witch way thou wilt, towards the garrison of the Philistines or elsewhere.


"Behold, I am with thee, according to thy heart": I will go with thee wherever thou goest, and do whatsoever thou would have me to do. I am at thy command, and according to thy wish and desire, and in all things subject to thy will; I am as thine own heart.


Jonathan's armor-bearer had confidence that what Jonathan said was true. If Jonathan is brave enough to do this, certainly the armor-bearer will go with him and help.



Verses 8-10: Jonathan's combat strategy was formulated in terms of waiting for the proper sign of divine approval (see the note on 10:2-6).


1 Samuel 14:8 "Then said Jonathan, Behold, we will pass over unto [these] men, and we will discover ourselves unto them."


They will go over the precipices to them, as steep and as cragged as they are.


"And we will discover ourselves to them": Present themselves to them at daylight, and let them know plainly who they were, that they were Hebrews.


These two could easily go in undetected. A whole army would have been seen immediately. We see from this, that one person can sometimes restore the confidence of a whole people by the actions he takes. Even in our land today, one or two people could start a revival which would sweep across our land. We just need to have the courage to step out and do it. The men will not know they are there, until they want them to know it.


1 Samuel 14:9 "If they say thus unto us, Tarry until we come to you; then we will stand still in our place, and will not go up unto them."


By this and what follows he gives his man a sign by which both might know how they should conduct themselves in this expedition, and what would be the issue, whether they should succeed or not.


"Tarry until we come to you" This, as it would express boldness in the men of the garrison, and show that they were ready to come out and fight, would portend evil, and then what they had to do was to be upon the defensive.


"Then we will stand still in our place" Wait till they came to them, and make the best defense of themselves as they could, showing as little fear as possible, and not attempting to retreat and flee.


"And will not go up unto them": Neither go backwards nor forwards; not backward, which would show fear; or forward, to expose themselves to too much danger from the garrison, they appearing to be bold and intrepid.


1 Samuel 14:10 "But if they say thus, Come up unto us; then we will go up: for the LORD hath delivered them into our hand: and this [shall be] a sign unto us."


"A sign unto us": This was an unusual manner for determining the will of the Lord, but not with similar precedent, e.g., Gideon's fleece (Judges 6:36-40). Jonathan was allowed to determine the will of God by the reaction of his enemies.


This is like laying a fleece before the LORD. What the Philistines say, when they see Jonathan and his armor-bearer, will determine whether Jonathan will stay where he is, or attack them. If they say come up to them, this is a sign from God that Jonathan is to attack.


1 Samuel 14:11 "And both of them discovered themselves unto the garrison of the Philistines: and the Philistines said, Behold, the Hebrews come forth out of the holes where they had hid themselves."


"Hebrews": The oldest term used by Gentile nations to refer to the people of Israel.


"The holes where they had hid themselves": Many of the Israelites were hiding in fear over the battle. Apparently they thought Jonathan and his armor bearer were Israelite deserters coming to the Philistine side.


This just means that Jonathan and his armor-bearer made themselves obvious to the Philistines. The Philistines think they have come to surrender. They laugh about Jonathan and his armor-bearer coming out of the holes where they had been hidden.


1 Samuel 14:12 "And the men of the garrison answered Jonathan and his armor-bearer, and said, Come up to us, and we will show you a thing. And Jonathan said unto his armor-bearer, Come up after me: for the LORD hath delivered them into the hand of Israel."


The guards that were set to watch the garrison who were crying out to them, and said:


"Come up to us, and we will show you a thing": We have something to say to you, a pretty thing to show you, when you shall pay dear for your boldness and impudence, in daring to come so near; not imagining that they could come, or would dare to attempt to come any further.


"And Jonathan said unto his armor-bearer, come up after me": Follow me, and never fear but we will find a way to come up to them, however difficult it may be.


"For the Lord hath delivered them into the hand of Israel": He knew by their language that God had given them a spirit of fear, that they dare not come out of their hold, and come down to them. And that he had cast them into a spirit of security and vain confidence, that they could never come at them, and give them any trouble. And from thence he concluded deliverance was at hand for the people of Israel. He was seeking not his own private interest and glory, but the public good. To which he was ready to ascribe not to his own valor and courage, but to the power, kindness, and goodness of God.


Jonathan is a brave man, who has confidence in the LORD. What they had intended to frighten Jonathan with was, in fact, the signal from God that he would win this battle.


1 Samuel 14:13 "And Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet, and his armor-bearer after him: and they fell before Jonathan; and his armor-bearer slew after him."


He did not attempt to go up the way or pass the Philistines kept, but turned aside and climbed up a precipice thought inaccessible, and came upon them unseen, and caught them unawares. For had he attempted to come up in any part where he was seen; they could easily have beat him down and prevented his ascent. But though the place he climbed was so very steep and cragged, yet crawling on all four, he surmounted the difficulty. For he took this method of going on his hands and feet, not so much that he might not be seen; but because otherwise he could not have got up, not being able to stand on his feet. Some think it was the precipice called Bozez he climbed, which, according to the Targum, had its name from its being very slippery.


"And his armor-bearer after him; who clambered up in the same manner, in imitation of his master, and as taught and directed by him.


"And they fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer slew after him": Jonathan, coming upon them unawares, knocked them down; or falling upon them, and laying about him with great dispatch, wounded them, and laid them prostrate to the ground. And his armor-bearer following, also put them to death, and so between them both made quick riddance of them.


These men that were taunting Jonathan and his armor-bearer could have thrown a rock off the side of the cliff they were climbing, and killed them both, before they made it to the top. They were making sport out of this whole thing. After all, there was just Jonathan and his armor-bearer against all of these men. We see that Jonathan killed those in front of him and the armor-bearer killed those behind him.


1 Samuel 14:14 "And that first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armor-bearer made, was about twenty men, within as it were a half acre of land, [which] a yoke [of oxen might plow]."


That first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armor-bearer made, was about twenty men, within about a half acre of land, which a yoke of oxen might plow. This was a very ancient mode of measurement, and it still subsists in the East. The men who saw them scrambling up the rock had been surprised and killed, and the spectacle of twenty corpses would suggest to others that they were attacked by a numerous force. The success of the adventure was aided by a panic that struck the enemy, produced both by the sudden surprise and the shock of an earthquake. The feat was begun and achieved by the faith of Jonathan, and the issue was of God.


These two men (Jonathan and his armor-bearer), came in the name of the Lord. Two men killed twenty men. It seemed their bodies were scattered over a half acre.


1 Samuel 14:15 "And there was trembling in the host, in the field, and among all the people: the garrison, and the spoilers, they also trembled, and the earth quaked: so it was a very great trembling."


"The earth quaked": The earthquake affirms the fact that divine intervention aided Jonathan and his armor-bearer in their raid. The earthquake caused a panic among the Philistines. God would have intervened on Saul's behalf in such a manner had he chosen to be faithfully patient (13:9).


There was widespread terror in the camp when it was told what happened to the garrison. They probably thought the entire army of Israel was coming against them. They had probably forgotten about an attack from Jonathan and his men. This was totally unexpected.


1 Samuel 14:16 "And the watchmen of Saul in Gibeah of Benjamin looked; and, behold, the multitude melted away, and they went on beating down [one another]."


It appears, in their fright, they turned on each other. Saul's watchmen have now suddenly become aware of the tumult. It seems to them, as if Israel is winning. They have no idea who of Israel is fighting however.


1 Samuel 14:17 "Then said Saul unto the people that [were] with him, Number now, and see who is gone from us. And when they had numbered, behold, Jonathan and his armor-bearer [were] not [there]."


When this panic which was taking place in the Philistine army was reported to King Saul, he naturally inquired as to what had caused it, knowing that he, as general-in-chief, had given no directions to any of his men to attack the enemy. In the little Israelites' force, when the roll was called, it was soon discovered who was missing.


"Behold, Jonathan and his armor-bearer were not there": From whence it might be inferred, that this commotion the Philistines were in was occasioned by an onset of theirs on the outer guards or sentinels of their garrison or army, which had alarmed them.


This numbering is not a count, but a calling of names, until they find who is not with them. Saul possibly thought someone had mustered a small group from his men, and gone and done this thing. To his surprise, it is Jonathan and his armor-bearer only.


1 Samuel 14:18 "And Saul said unto Ahiah, Bring hither the ark of God. For the ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel."


"Ark of God": The LXX (Septuagint) reads "ephod" instead of "Ark," and this seems more likely since the Ark was at Kirjath-jearim and the language of 14:19 better fits the ephod (verse 3) than the Ark.


We remember that, the Ark of God was cared for by the priest. This is possibly speaking of the high priest coming wearing the ephod. God spoke to the people through the Urim and the Thummim of the high priest. Perhaps the Ark was brought, so the people would recognize the answer from God.


1 Samuel 14:19 "And it came to pass, while Saul talked unto the priest, that the noise that [was] in the host of the Philistines went on and increased: and Saul said unto the priest, Withdraw thine hand."


"Withdraw thine hand": Saul, in a hurry, ordered the priest to stop the inquiry into the will of the Lord.


Saul did not wait to hear what the will of God was in this, before he acted. Saul had done the wrong thing when he offered the burnt offering, not willing to wait for Samuel. Now he is making the same mistake again, by not waiting to hear from God through the priest. His impatience costs him.


1 Samuel 14:20 "And Saul and all the people that [were] with him assembled themselves, and they came to the battle: and, behold, every man's sword was against his fellow, [and there was] a very great discomfiture."


The six hundred men that were with him, unless we can suppose the 1000 that had been with Jonathan in Gibeah were here still (see 1 Sam. 13:2).


"And they came to the battle": To the field of battle, the place where the army of the Philistines had encamped.


"And, behold, every man's sword was against his fellow": Taking one another for Hebrews, or treacherous and disaffected persons; so that, though the Israelites had neither swords nor spears, they needed none, for the Philistines destroyed one another with their own swords.


"Very great discomfiture": Noise, tumult, confusion, slaughter, and destruction.


This is not speaking of the Israelites' swords, because Saul was the only one of this group that had one. This just means that the Philistines turned their swords on each other and killed their own army. Saul's army had no swords or spears. Of course, they could have taken some from the fallen Philistines.


1 Samuel 14:21 "Moreover the Hebrews [that] were with the Philistines before that time, which went up with them into the camp [from the country] round about, even they also [turned] to be with the Israelites that [were] with Saul and Jonathan."


"Hebrews": This is a reference to Israelite deserters or mercenaries.


Jonathan's bravery caused these frightened Israelites, who had gone with the Philistines, to return to the service of Jonathan. They had not fought with the Philistines against Israel. They had been like slaves to the Philistines.


1 Samuel 14:22 "Likewise all the men of Israel which had hid themselves in mount Ephraim, [when] they heard that the Philistines fled, even they also followed hard after them in the battle."


"Hid themselves in Mount Ephraim": A large and partially wooded area north and west of Michmash.


It seems the bravery of Jonathan had encouraged the bravery of them all. Those who had hidden, so they would not have to fight, when the army of the Philistines came, are now coming out of hiding so they can share in the victory.


1 Samuel 14:23 "So the LORD saved Israel that day: and the battle passed over unto Beth-aven."


"So the Lord saved Israel" The writer uses similar language to that of the Exodus. In spite of their disobedient king, God was faithful to deliver Israel from her enemies.


"Beth-aven" (see note on 13:2).


The one thing we must notice above is who won the war for them. It was the LORD. The LORD saved Israel because of Jonathan's faith.


1 Samuel Chapter 14 Questions


1. Who did Jonathan tell to come with him, to the Philistine's garrison?


2. Why did Jonathan not tell Saul, where he was going?


3. Who put this thought into the mind of Jonathan?


4. Where was Saul, when this happened?


5. How many men were with Saul?


6. Who was wearing an ephod?


7. Who was Phinehas?


8. Why was his son named Ichabod?


9. What does "Ahiah" mean?


10. What does "Bozez" mean?


11. What does "Seneh" mean?


12. These two rocks guarded the entrance to the _____________.


13. What did Jonathan call the Philistines in verse 6?


14. Who did Jonathan have faith in?


15. Two can put _____ ________ to flight, if the two are in the perfect will of God.


16. Did his armor-bearer go willingly with Jonathan?


17. When would the Philistines see them?


18. How can we relate to these two today?


19. How will Jonathan know whether the LORD wants him to go against the Philistines, or not?


20. Why did the Philistines not roll a rock down the embankment, and kill them?


21. How many did Jonathan and his armor-bearer kill in the first slaughter?


22. When the Philistines heard what happened at the garrison, how did they react?


23. What did the Philistines think was happening?


24. In their fright, they turned on ________ ________.


25. Who discovered what was going on and told Saul?


26. What did Saul do, to determine who had gone out to fight?


27. What did Saul tell Ahaiah to bring?


28. How did the LORD speak to the people?


29. Why did Saul not wait to hear the will of God?


30. Who came to help Jonathan?


31. Who returned to help?


32. The _________ saved Israel that day.


1 Samuel Chapter 14 Continued

Verses 24-33: The army, ravenous because of Saul's foolish "oath", disobeyed the covenant laws regarding the proper preparation of meat (Gen. 9:4; Lev. 7:26; 17:10-14). Saul's impetuous behavior led the nation to sin.


1 Samuel 14:24 "And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed [be] the man that eateth [any] food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted [any] food."


"Were distressed": Saul's inept leadership failed to provide for the physical needs of his men, leaving them weak and fatigued.


"Cursed": Saul's first foolish oath pronounced a curse upon anyone tasting food until the battle was over. The scene fits chronologically after Jonathan's departure.


In the last lesson, we saw that Jonathan and his armor-bearer attacked the Philistines. Saul found out about it, after it was nearly over, and rushed out with his men to help. Now, we see that Saul had called a fast for that day. "Adjured" means he made them swear. He also said that anyone who ate before the day was over, would be cursed. He was in such a hurry, that he did not want them to stop to eat.


1 Samuel 14:25 "And all [they of] the land came to a wood; and there was honey upon the ground."


"Honey upon the ground": This was a reference to honeycombs found in the forest (verse 27).


There seemed to be an abundance of honey running down the rocks. The men had been walking all day without food, and this was a great temptation.


1 Samuel 14:26 "And when the people were come into the wood, behold, the honey dropped; but no man put his hand to his mouth: for the people feared the oath."


The honey is described as "upon the ground," "dropping" from the trees, and in honeycombs, indicating it to be bees' honey. "Bees in the East are not, as in England, kept in hives; they are all in a wild state. The forests literally flow with honey; large combs may be seen hanging on the trees as you pass along, full of honey" [Roberts].


"But no man put his hand to his mouth": That is, took not any of the honey and ate it, though it was so near at hand, and there was plenty of it.


"For the people feared the oath": Saul made them swear by, or the imprecation he made on the person that should eat any food that day.


Even though there was an abundance of honey, and they were very hungry, they did not eat. They were more afraid of the curse Saul had spoken, if they broke their oath, than they were of being hungry. They did not even taste it.


1 Samuel 14:27 "But Jonathan heard not when his father charged the people with the oath: wherefore he put forth the end of the rod that [was] in his hand, and dipped it in a honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened."


"Jonathan heard not" Jonathan apparently had departed before Saul made his oath.


Not only had Jonathan not heard what his father said, he did not take the oath either. Jonathan would not be punished, for breaking an oath he did not take. Jonathan takes a bite of the honey, because he is unaware of his father's restriction. The dimness in his eyes had been caused from his exhaustion. The sweetness of the honey brought him strength and bright eyes.


1 Samuel 14:28 "Then answered one of the people, and said, Thy father straitly charged the people with an oath, saying, Cursed [be] the man that eateth [any] food this day. And the people were faint."


Most probably, in reply to Jonathan's pointing out the plentiful supply of honey, and inviting the soldiers near him to refresh themselves with it. The words "and the people were faint," at the close of the verse, should be rendered, and the people are faint. They were part of the speech of the soldier who was telling Jonathan of his father's rash oath.


The father was in such a hurry to get these people into the battle, that he forgot how weak they would be, if they did not eat. His causing them to swear, that they would not eat, would make them so weak, it would be about impossible to finish the battle.


1 Samuel 14:29 "Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land: see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey."


"My father hath troubled the land": Jonathan saw the foolishness of Saul's oath and how it actually hurt Israel's cause instead of helping it.


Saul's mistake was in a hasty judgment, again. Jonathan had found strength in the taste of honey he had taken. They could all fight better, if they were not so weak from hunger.


1 Samuel 14:30 "How much more, if haply the people had eaten freely today of the spoil of their enemies which they found? for had there not been now a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?"


That is, had they been allowed to eat freely of the provisions of bread, wine, etc. that they found in the enemy's camp, they would have been much more refreshed and strengthened than it could be supposed he was with eating a little honey. If that had had such an effect upon him, of what service would a full meal have been to the people?


"For had there not been now a much greater slaughter among the Philistines?" The people would have had more strength to smite them, and would have pursued them with greater zeal and swiftness, and so have made a greater slaughter among them than they had. He intimates that Saul's end would have been better answered by suffering the people to eat, than by forbidding them.


The truth is, they could have fought better, but they had taken the vow. The end result would have been better, if Saul had thought of the needs of his soldiers.


1 Samuel 14:31 "And they smote the Philistines that day from Michmash to Aijalon: and the people were very faint."


"Aijalon": This area is located 15 miles west of Michmash. This would have been a normal path back to the land of the Philistines.


They pursued and killed the Philistines, but the slaughter would have been much greater, had they not been so weary.


1 Samuel 14:32 "And the people flew upon the spoil, and took sheep, and oxen, and calves, and slew [them] on the ground: and the people did eat [them] with the blood."


"Eat them with the blood": The people were so severely hungry because of the oath (verse 24), that they disobeyed the law by eating the meat raw and not draining the blood (Lev. 17:10-14).


Such an act was in clear violation of the Levitical prohibition against eating meat with "blood" still in it (Lev. 17:10-14; 19:26). The pressures of warfare, as well as the added restrictions of Saul's foolish oath (verses 24-30), may have contributed to the people's hunger and physical weakness, hence to the temptation to ignore the Levitical stipulations.


It seems, they kept the forced fast that Saul had caused them to swear to. The minute the fast was over, they committed a very bad sin by eating the blood with the meat. The Hebrews had a special way they were to kill animals. They were to bleed them, and cover the blood with the dirt.


Leviticus 3:17 "[It shall be] a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood."


1 Samuel 14:33 "Then they told Saul, saying, Behold, the people sin against the LORD, in that they eat with the blood. And he said, Ye have transgressed: roll a great stone unto me this day."


Some that were more conscientious and religious were more circumspect, and strictly attended to the laws forbidding the eating of blood, and were concerned at the indecent behavior of others, and therefore thought fit to acquaint Saul with it, to restrain it.


"Behold, the people sin against the Lord, in that they eat with the blood": By breaking the laws of God respecting the eating of blood (in Genesis 9:4, especially in Leviticus 19:26).


"And he said, ye have transgressed": The above laws of God; that is. Saul said to some persons who were accused of the breach of them, and were ordered to come before him, and did come.


"Roll a great stone unto me this day": Pointing perhaps, at one which lay at some distance from him, and which he ordered to be rolled to him. This was done, that the creatures might be slain on it, and their blood drawn out from them, or to offer sacrifice upon, and indeed for both.


They have not kept the covenant with God. They were to obey God's commandments. They were all aware, that they were not to eat the blood of an animal. They were to immediately bring a stone to Saul, so the animals could be cut up and drained properly.


1 Samuel 14:34 "And Saul said, Disperse yourselves among the people, and say unto them, Bring me hither every man his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay [them] here, and eat; and sin not against the LORD in eating with the blood. And all the people brought every man his ox with him that night, and slew [them] there."


In the camp, some one way, and some another, and make proclamation throughout it; this he said to some of his officers, whom he sent out as heralds, to publish his will and pleasure.


"And say unto them, bring me hither every man his ox, and every man his sheep, and slay them here": On the great stone he had ordered to roll to the place where he was.


"And eat them; in the same place, being rightly slain, and the blood let out; all this was to be done, the slaying of the beasts, and eating them, in the presence of Saul, and under his inspection, that everything might be done decently, and in order, and according to the law of God.


"And sin not against the Lord, in eating with the blood": As some of them had done (1 Sam. 14:32), and all the people brought every man his ox with him; and his sheep also, though not expressed, yet to be supplied from the preceding clause.


And these every man brought: "Every man his ox with him that night". The Jewish Rabbins are divided about these creatures slain, whether for sacrifices or common food. And those that think sacrifices are meant dispute whether it was lawful to slay them in the night, which some allow to be lawful, if on a small and private altar, but not upon a large and public one. But these were slain no doubt for common food, which all agree might be slain in the night.


"And slew them there": Before Saul, and on the great stone rolled unto him.


The animals slain on the rock would have a chance for the blood to drain thoroughly. It does not say anything about cooking the meat here, but the meat had to be cooked to fulfill the law. They were not to eat raw meat.


1 Samuel 14:35 "And Saul built an altar unto the LORD: the same was the first altar that he built unto the LORD."


"The first altar": The first and only altar built by Saul mentioned in Scripture.


This altar was in thanks for the victory they had against the Philistines. This altar to the LORD was the first Saul had built.


1 Samuel 14:36 "And Saul said, Let us go down after the Philistines by night, and spoil them until the morning light, and let us not leave a man of them. And they said, Do whatsoever seemeth good unto thee. Then said the priest, Let us draw near hither unto God."


"Let us draw near hither unto God": Ahijah the priest requested that they first seek the Lord regarding their course of action.


Saul realizes that he was really the cause, that all of the Philistines had not been killed. Now, he proposes that they go down by night and finish killing them. It appears, the army was willing to do whatever Saul wanted to do. The priest wanted to inquire of God, before they went to battle, however.


1 Samuel 14:37 "And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day."


"Saul asked counsel of God": At the request of Ahijah, Saul inquired of the Lord regarding his battle plan.


"He answered him not" Because of the sin that Saul had caused in his army, God did not answer his inquiry. This would not be the last time that the Lord would refuse to respond to sinful Saul (28:6).


God did not answer him quickly, because he was so impatient. Saul wanted to hear what God had to say, as long as He said it immediately.


1 Samuel 14:38 "And Saul said, Draw ye near hither, all the chief of the people: and know and see wherein this sin hath been this day."


Or, the corners of the peoples; the princes, as Jarchi interprets it: and so the Targum, the heads of the people, in allusion to the cornerstones in buildings, which are the ornament, strength, and cement of them (see Zech. 10:4). Though Abarbinel thinks the tribes themselves are meant, which lay encamped everyone in a corner by themselves, separated from one another. And these he would have brought together; not the heads only, but everyone, small and great, that it might be seen and known where the sin lay. But he should have observed that the tribes of Israel were not now present with Saul, but a small number of them.


"And know and see wherein this sin hath been this day": He concluded, from having no answer from the Lord, that sin had been committed, which was the cause of it. But never thought of his own rash oath, which was the cause of the people's sinning, and had brought his son into danger or by the sin of the people by eating the flesh that contained the blood. Nothing ran in his mind but the breach of the oath with which he had adjured the people, and this he was determined to find out, if possible.


Because God did not answer him immediately, he assumes it is because of some sin that has been committed. He never looks at himself. His fault finding is always with someone else. He wants to find who has sinned, and kill him.


1 Samuel 14:39 "For, [as] the LORD liveth, which saveth Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die. But [there was] not a man among all the people [that] answered him."


"As the Lord liveth": As an encore to his previous oath, Saul followed with another foolish oath, unknowingly jeopardizing his own son's life.


He had made rash decisions several times earlier. This is another rash statement, because he wants to hurry up and go to war. The people are not going to accuse Jonathan, who led them to the victory over the Philistines. We said before that Jonathan did not sin, because he had not taken the oath with the others.


1 Samuel 14:40 "Then said he unto all Israel, Be ye on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side. And the people said unto Saul, Do what seemeth good unto thee."


As many of them as were present. Not the principal men only, but the common people; not the officers only, but the common soldiers in the army.


"Be ye on one side, and I and Jonathan my son will be on the other side": So they divided to the right and left, one went one way, and the other the other. There were two boxes or urns, as Kimchi says, in one of which were the names of Saul and Jonathan, and in the other Israel. Though Abarbinel observes, that such a partition of them on one side, and the other, is not according to the manner of lots; and he suspects that Saul knew that Jonathan had tasted of honey. Being told it by the man that saw him eat it; and who said to him then, "thy father straitly charged" (1 Sam. 14:27), but chose this way to make it manifest to the people, and to show what a strict regard he had to justice.


"And the people said unto Saul, do what seemeth good unto thee": They were very submissive to him in everything (see 1 Sam. 14:36).


He had not received an answer from God through the Urim and the Thummim of the high priest. Now, he has decided to figure out who is worthy of death by lot.



Verses 41-45: God gave two stones ("Lots"), called Urim and Thummim to the Israelites to make decisions. Kept in the high priest's possession, they were the only legitimate way to receive a positive or negative response from the Lord other that God speaking directly to someone (Exodus 28:30; Num. 27:21). The Israelites recognized the truth: Jonathan's victory was evidence of God working on their behalf; whereas Saul's oath was foolish.


Verses 41-42: The casting of lots was an accepted means of determining the Lord's will (Prov. 16:33), in ancient "Israel" (Lev. 16:7-10, 21-22; Joshua 14:2; 18:6), including the establishing of guilt (Joshua 7:14).


1 Samuel 14:41 "Therefore Saul said unto the LORD God of Israel, Give a perfect [lot]. And Saul and Jonathan were taken: but the people escaped."


"Taken": The practice of casting lots was used to distinguish one person or group from another. Jonathan was indicated as the guilty party, though he acted innocently (verse 27).


The lot fell on Jonathan and Saul. The people were spared in this.


1 Samuel 14:42 "And Saul said, Cast [lots] between me and Jonathan my son. And Jonathan was taken."


Which showed his regard strict justice, and that he had no consciousness of guilt in himself, and should not spare his own son if found guilty.


"And Jonathan was taken": The lot fell upon him, which was so directed, that his ignorance of his father's charge and oath might appear; and that the affection of the people might be discovered. And that a regard is to be had to the orders and commands of princes, and obedience to be yielded to them in all in which conscience is not concerned, though they may be grievous. And to bring Saul to a sense of rashness in making such an oath, which brought his own son into so much danger.


The lot fell on Jonathan this time.


1 Samuel 14:43 "Then Saul said to Jonathan, Tell me what thou hast done. And Jonathan told him, and said, I did but taste a little honey with the end of the rod that [was] in mine hand, [and], lo, I must die."


What sin he had committed, the lot having fallen on him, and found him out: and Jonathan told him; the whole of the matter, all the truth, without any reserve.


"And said, I did but take a little honey with the end of the rod that was in mine hand": He speaks of the fact as a trivial thing, as if it was not deserving of death, though he was willing to submit to it; yet it seems strange he should say nothing of his ignorance of the charge and oath of Saul, and plead that in excuse of it.


Truly Jonathan had taken of the honey, but he had done it innocently. He had not taken the vow, nor heard the oath his father made. He bows to the judgment of God, and does not try to defend himself in this. He agrees he must die.


1 Samuel 14:44 "And Saul answered, God do so and more also: for thou shalt surely die, Jonathan."


"God do so and more also": Saul, proud and concerned with his own authority and honor, was intent on fulfilling his vow.


Saul is a man who does not stop to think, before he speaks. He takes an oath, here, to kill his own son. Jonathan had not broken the oath, because he never took it.


1 Samuel 14:45 "And the people said unto Saul, Shall Jonathan die, who hath wrought this great salvation in Israel? God forbid: [as] the LORD liveth, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground; for he hath wrought with God this day. So the people rescued Jonathan, that he died not."


"Wrought with God this day": Jonathan, in stark contrast to his father the king, understood the sufficiency of God for the task and obediently relied on Him for the victory.


The people are right. There is no reason to kill Jonathan. Not only did he win the battle almost singlehandedly for them, but he is innocent. Certainly, the blessings of God had been upon him, as he fought the Philistines. The people loved Jonathan, and they would not let Saul kill him.


1 Samuel 14:46 "Then Saul went up from following the Philistines: and the Philistines went to their own place."


"The Philistines went to their own place": The Philistines were left to continue their retreat unhindered.


Saul saw that the people were not with him, and he returns home. The Philistines, who were not killed earlier, were spared. They went to their homes, as well.



Verses 47-52: Saul was a man of war, quick to battle "wherever he turned" and quick to recruit "any strong ... or ... valiant man" who crossed his path. War was a primary way for a new king to establish his "sovereignty" in ancient times (Exodus 17:14-16; Num. 24:20).


Saul's military accomplishments were significant and expanded Israel's borders in all directions: to the south (Edom), east (Ammon and Moab), north (Zobah), and west (Philistia). The defeat of the Amalekites is recorded (in Chapter 15).


1 Samuel 14:47 "So Saul took the kingdom over Israel, and fought against all his enemies on every side, against Moab, and against the children of Ammon, and against Edom, and against the kings of Zobah, and against the Philistines: and whithersoever he turned himself, he vexed [them]."


That is, resumed the administration of it, after he had, in a manner, lost it by the Philistines, who had almost got the entire possession of it, and enslaved Israel.


"And fought against all his enemies on every side": He did not invade them, as may be gathered from the next verse, but repelled them, and kept them within their own limits. He gathered an army, and smote the Amalekites; which war is described at large in the next chapter.


It seemed the bravery of Jonathan, Saul's son, gave Saul the courage to lead his troops bravely. He fought with all the enemies of Israel. Paul says that Saul reigned for 40 years as king. I have no argument with that. He was an impatient military king. Notice, he did not kill them all. He vexed them. He was a constant enemy of theirs.


1 Samuel 14:48 "And he gathered a host, and smote the Amalekites, and delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them."


A large army; for after the battle with the Ammonites he disbanded his army, and sent them home, retaining only 3000 men. And these deserted him to six hundred, which were all the men he had with him, when he fought last with the Philistines. But now, finding he had enemies on every side of him, he gathered a large army to defend his country against them and particularly, to attack the people next mentioned.


"And he smote the Amalekites": A people that Israel, by the law of God, was bound to destroy, and blot out their name. A particular account of his expedition against them is given in the following chapter.


"And delivered Israel out of the hands of them that spoiled them": The nations before mentioned, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Syrians, and Philistines.


We do not read of daring exploits like Jonathan did, from Saul. Saul took an army with him, when he fought their enemies. He fought valiantly for Israel and won. The Amalekites were just one of the lands he defeated.



Verses 49-51: Saul's children, Jonathan and Michal, would both play significant roles in the life of the next king, David. Nothing further is known of Saul's wife or other children mentioned here.


1 Samuel 14:49 "Now the sons of Saul were Jonathan, and Ishui, and Melchi-shua: and the names of his two daughters [were these]; the name of the firstborn Merab, and the name of the younger Michal:"


Who seems to be his firstborn, of whom, his valor and success, we read in this and the preceding chapter.


"And Ishui": The same with Abinadab (1 Chron. 8:33), for he had two names.


"And Melchi-shua": And besides these three there was another, whose name was Ishbosheth, sometimes called Eshbaal (2 Sam. 2:8), who succeeded him in the kingdom. For which reason Abarbinel thinks he is not mentioned here, because he was a king; though it is generally supposed the reason why these only are named is, because they went out to war with him, and died with him. But this did not; he had other children by a concubine, or secondary wife, whose name was Rizpah, not mentioned here (2 Sam. 21:8).


"And the names of his two daughters were these, the name of the firstborn Merab; who was afterwards married to Adriel the Meholathite (1 Sam. 18:19), and the name of the younger Michal; who became the wife of David (1 Sam. 18:27).


Ishui and Abinadab is the same person. The fourth son of Saul is not mentioned here. His name was Ishbosheth. Generally, daughters are not mentioned, but these will play important roles in their history, so they are mentioned. "Jonathan" means whom Jehovah gave. The name "Ishui" means peaceful, or quiet. "Melchi-shua" means king of aid.


"Ishbosheth" means man of shame. Perhaps, that is why he was not named here. "Merab" means increase. "Michal" means who like God.


1 Samuel 14:50 And the name of Saul's wife [was] Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz: and the name of the captain of his host [was] Abner, the son of Ner, Saul's uncle.


"Abner": A cousin of Saul who commanded his army (1 Sam. 17:55, 59; 20:25; 26:14-15).


"Ahinoam" means brother of grace. "Ahimaaz" means brother of anger. "Abner" means father of light. Kish, Saul's father was a son of Ner. Abner was Saul's captain of hosts.


1 Samuel 14:51 "And Kish [was] the father of Saul; and Ner the father of Abner [was] the son of Abiel."


(See 1 Samuel 9:1).


"And Ner the father of Abner was the son of Abiel; this Abiel was the father both of Kish and Ner, and the grandfather of Saul (see 1 Sam. 9:1).


This makes Abiel the great-grandfather of Saul.


1 Samuel 14:52 "And there was sore war against the Philistines all the days of Saul: and when Saul saw any strong man, or any valiant man, he took him unto him."


"War ... sore": The Philistines' opposition to Israel was persistent and continual to the very last day of Saul's life (1 Sam. 31:1-3).


"Strong man ... valiant man": Saul looked for the good warriors and attached them to his personal force. David was one such man, who would also continue this practice under his rule (2 Sam. 23:8-39).


This is just saying that, a strong healthy man was enlisted in the army of Saul. Saul was a good soldier leader. He knew the Philistines were a powerful opponent. Saul kept a standing army of the finest young men in the country. The moral was high, because they were successful against their enemies.


1 Samuel Chapter 14 Continued Questions


1. What rash thing does Saul say in verse 24?


2. What does "adjured" mean?


3. Why did Saul make such a rash vow?


4. There was an abundance of ___________upon the ground.


5. Why did the soldiers not take of the honey?


6. Why did Jonathan take of the honey?


7. What happened to Jonathan's eyes, when he did this?


8. What did one of the people tell Jonathan, after he had taken of the honey?


9. Saul's mistake was in his ___________ judgment.


10. If the people had eaten better, what would they, possibly, have done?


11. It seems the soldiers kept the ________ fast.


12. What did they do, the minute the fast was over?


13. Why were they to roll a great stone to Saul?


14. What would be the difference in the animals slain on the rock?


15. In verse 35, what did Saul build?


16. What did Saul want to do further to the Philistines?


17. What does the priest say to do?


18. When there is no answer from God, what does Saul propose they do?


19. What rash statement does Saul say about Jonathan?


20. Where does the lot fall?


21. Why does Saul not kill him?


22. Why is it right, that the people not let Saul kill Jonathan?


23. Did they attack the Philistines that night?


24. What exploits of Saul do we read of in verse 47?


25. How long does Paul say that Saul was king?


26. Who were the sons of Saul?


27. Who were his daughters?


28. Who is the same as Ishui?


29. What was Saul's wife named?


30. Who was the great-grandfather of Saul?





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1 Samuel 15



1 Samuel Chapter 15

1 Samuel 15:1 "Samuel also said unto Saul, The LORD sent me to anoint thee [to be] king over his people, over Israel: now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the LORD."


When and where he said to him what follows, it is not easy to determine, perhaps at Gilgal, where they had met again.


"The Lord sent me to anoint thee to be king over his people, over Israel": That is, he gave him orders to anoint him king of Israel, otherwise Saul was in providence sent to Samuel to be anointed, and not Samuel to Saul.


"Now therefore hearken thou unto the voice of the words of the Lord": For so great a favor, and such high honor he had conferred on him, laid him under great obligation to obey the commands of the Lord. Whereas he had been deficient in one instance before, for which he had been reproved, he suggests, that now he should take care to observe and do, particularly and punctually, what should be entrusted him.


It seems as though Saul has rebelled so much at the exacting will of the LORD, that Samuel reminds Saul here that he is king, because the Lord made him king. Samuel tries to convince Saul, that the most important thing to do is obey the will and the Word of God. We are not to question the will of God. We must obey completely, not just the part we like. Listen carefully to the will of God and do exactly what He says, is the message of this first verse.



Verses 2-3: The command to "utterly destroy" the enemy was reserved for nations that rebelled against all things holy. This was God's most severe judgment, and it stopped the spread of pagan practices among God's chosen people (e.g., Deut. 20:16-17; Joshua 6:17, 21).


1 Samuel 15:2 "Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember [that] which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid [wait] for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt."


"Amalek": The Amalekites, a nomadic people of the desert and descendants of Esau (Gen. 36:12), became a marked people when they attacked Israel in the wilderness after leaving Egypt (see notes on Exodus 17:8-16; compare Num. 24:20; Deut. 25:19; Judges 6:3-5).


The Amalekites had been a vicious group of people, opposed to the Israelites from the beginning of their journey to the Promised Land. They were desert people, who lived in tents. They were nomads. They had a bad reputation for stealing and marauding.


1 Samuel 15:3 "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."


"Utterly destroy": God gave Saul an opportunity to redeem himself with obedience. The judgment was to be a complete and total annihilation of anything that breathed. God's judgment was severe on those who would destroy His people. It was equally severe to those who disobeyed (Achan in Joshua 7:10-26).


Total annihilation of the enemy is demanded here (see the note on Joshua 6:17).


This seems like such a cruel thing to do, but we must not question the intentions of God. He wanted to wipe out this evil, before it spread to His people (the Israelites). The reason He did not want any of the animals saved was simply that He did not want the Israelites to have war for personal gain. This was a holy war called for by the LORD Himself. This was a war for cleansing the land. He wanted to purge the land of even the memory of the Amalekites.


1 Samuel 15:4 "And Saul gathered the people together, and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand footmen, and ten thousand men of Judah."


"Telaim": The precise location of this area is unknown, but it may be a reference to Telem (found in Joshua 15:24).


These Bedouins were probably more trouble to Judah, than to the others. Judah just had 10,000 footmen, and that would not be enough to destroy the Amalekites by themselves. The 200,000 footmen came from the other tribes. Telaim was a place where sheep were gathered. This meeting was not in town then.


1 Samuel 15:5 "And Saul came to a city of Amalek, and laid wait in the valley."


"A city of Amalek": This was possibly modern-day Tel Masos located about 7 miles east southeast of Beer-sheba.


Ir-amalek was the only known city of the Amalekites. He did not go in and immediately destroy the village, as the LORD had told him to do. It seems that Saul was headstrong. He did not take instructions well, even if they were from the LORD.


1 Samuel 15:6 "And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, get you down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them: for ye showed kindness to all the children of Israel, when they came up out of Egypt. So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites."


The "Kenites" are spared because of their protracted kindness toward "Israel" (see the note on Judges 1:16).


Moses' father-in-law was a Kenite (Judges 1:16), a people friendly to the Israelites.


It is not apparent whether he gave them warning before the battle started, or whether it was during the battle. We just know he allowed the Kenites to go free. We also see that their kindness to the Israelites was the reason the Kenites were saved.



Verses 7-11: Against Samuel's instructions (15:3), Saul "spared Agag and the best" of the livestock and then kept the choice animals for himself. This selfishness, outright rebellion against God's law, and disregard for His holiness caused God to "regret" making Saul king. God did not say His decision was a mistake, He knew all long what Saul would do. Rather, God expressed grief over the sins of Saul and the effect they had on Israel (see note on 15:29).


1 Samuel 15:7 "And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah [until] thou comest to Shur, that [is] over against Egypt."


"From Havilah ... to Shur": Saul's victory was extensive, covering much of the Amalekite territory. However, the Amalekites were not completely destroyed (27:8; 30:1).


They were nomads, so they had to hunt them down to kill them. They were scattered from Havilah to Shur. They were scattered so much that they reached almost to Egypt.



Verses 8-9: Saul's actions were in clear violation of the divine sanctions against Amalek (see the note on 1 Chron. 10:13-14).


1 Samuel 15:8 "And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword."


"Agag": Another example of Saul's incomplete obedience, in the cast of Agag, is recorded because it had such far-reaching implications. Over 5 centuries later an Agagite named Haman attempted to exterminate the Jewish race from his power base in Persia (Esther 3:1).


"All the people": The Israelites killed everyone they came across, except for the king.


The LORD told him to kill everyone. This was not keeping the commandments of the LORD to the fullest. Saul was a great earthly king, but we would have to question how he fared with the things of the Spirit. It seemed as if he could just not do exactly what God told him to do. He did most of what God told him to do, but he would not keep every detail. He was rebellious against God in this.


1 Samuel 15:9 "But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all [that was] good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing [that was] vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly."


"Saul and the people spared": Motivated by covetousness, both Saul and the people greedily spared the choice spoil of the land, disobeying God's Word and demonstrating their faithlessness.


This is a direct disobedience of God. Saul killed only the animals that are second best, and kept the best for himself. This was not what the LORD had said to do. Saul had disobeyed the LORD, again. He had been partly obedient, but he had not been totally obedient. Obedience is better than sacrifice.


1 Samuel 15:10 "Then came the word of the LORD unto Samuel, saying,"


The word of prophecy, as the Targum; this came to him in a dream or vision, or by an articulate voice: saying; as follows.


1 Samuel 15:11 "It repenteth me that I have set up Saul [to be] king: for he is turned back from following me, and hath not performed my commandments. And it grieved Samuel; and he cried unto the LORD all night."


"It grieved Samuel": Samuel's role as priest over the people gave him great concern over the poor performance of the king, who was like the kings of other nations (1 Sam. 6:19-20); i.e., self-centered, self-willed, and utterly disobedient to the things of God.


God's regret is an expression drawn from human experience. Yet, the "Lord" was doubtless "grieved" because of Saul's disobedience. However, such characteristics do not indicate weakness or changeability in the divine will (James 1:17; see the note on 15:29 below).


Samuel was the moral, or spiritual, leader of Israel at this time. The LORD had told Samuel specifically what Saul was to do in the destruction of the Amalekites. Saul listened, but undoubtedly did not take the details serious enough to carry through. Now the LORD is speaking through Samuel again. Saul had failed nearly every test the LORD had given him. Saul was headstrong. He felt there was always a better way to do things, than to obey the explicit will of the LORD. He had not performed the commandments the LORD had given him through Samuel. He had spared Agag alive. He also saved the very best of all of the animals. Samuel was so grieved when he heard this about Saul that he cried all night unto the LORD.


1 Samuel 15:12 "And when Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning, it was told Samuel, saying, Saul came to Carmel, and, behold, he set him up a place, and is gone about, and passed on, and gone down to Gilgal."


"Carmel": This is not Mt. Carmel of Elijah fame (1 Kings 18:20), but a Carmel located 7 miles south of Hebron.


"He sat him up a place": Saul, apparently taking credit for the victory, established a monument to himself (Absalom in 2 Sam. 18:18). This foolish act of contemptible pride was Saul's expression of self-worship rather than true worship of God and another evidence of his spiritual weakness.


"Gilgal": The site of Samuel's first confrontation with Saul (13:7b-15), became the site of this pronouncement of judgment.


We see from this, Saul did not report back to Samuel. He probably knew that Samuel would be displeased with what he had done. Samuel expected him to come back to him, and report about the victory. He did not however. Saul returned to Gilgal, which is several days' journey from Samuel's home.


1 Samuel 15:13 "And Samuel came to Saul: and Saul said unto him, Blessed [be] thou of the LORD: I have performed the commandment of the LORD."


"I have performed the commandment of the Lord": Saul, either ignorantly or deceitfully, maintained that he did what was commanded (15:20).


If he kept the commandment, why did he not come and tell Samuel? Why did Samuel have to look for him? Saul had kept part of the commandments of the Lord. He really had kept the commandments that were pleasing unto him and did not keep those which displeased him. He is like many believers in Christ, who want the salvation of Jesus Christ, but do not want Him to be their Lord.


1 Samuel 15:14 "And Samuel said, What [meaneth] then this bleating of the sheep in mine ears, and the lowing of the oxen which I hear?"


For the orders were to destroy all living creatures belonging to the Amalekites (1 Sam. 15:3), if therefore Saul had performed the commandment of the Lord, as he said he had, from whence were these sheep Samuel heard bleating?


"And the lowing of the oxen which I hear?" Where do they come from? These questions he put to convict him of the falsehood he had delivered; the bleating and lowing of these creatures proved him a liar, and were witnesses of his breach of the divine command. One would think every bleating and lowing of these must alarm his conscience, unless dreadfully stupefied.


The LORD had told Saul to kill all of the animals. He had kept the choicest animals back. The sound of the animals is convicting Saul of this sin.


1 Samuel 15:15 "And Saul said, They have brought them from the Amalekites: for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God; and the rest we have utterly destroyed."


"The people spared the best ... to sacrifice": Saul began to place blame on others, making room for his own excuses just as he had done earlier (13:11-12). Then he tried to justify his sin by saying that the animals would be used to sacrifice to the God of Samuel. Saul's blatant disobedience at least pained his conscience so that he could not claim God as his God.


Once again "Saul," the sinner, attempts to shift the blame to others (13:11-12), or plead extenuating circumstances (verses 20-21). The practices are as old as sin itself (Gen. 3:12-13).


It appears that if Saul were going to sacrifice these choice animals, he would have gone to Samuel, instead of Samuel looking him up. In my opinion, a sacrifice should actually be the finest thing you have that belongs to you, not someone else's property. It really does not matter what he was going to do with them. He disobeyed God by taking them at all. Saul seems to have become extremely proud of his own opinion, even to overruling the will of God.


1 Samuel 15:16 "Then Samuel said unto Saul, Stay, and I will tell thee what the LORD hath said to me this night. And he said unto him, Say on."


Stop a little, do not be in haste to be gone, as he might seem to be, fearing a reproof, and that something would be said to him not very agreeable.


"And I will tell thee what the Lord hath said to me this night": Since it was not anything from himself, but from the Lord he had to say, he might expect the rather to be heard, especially since it was what had lately been told him.


"And he said unto him, say on": He gave him leave, perhaps hoping he should hear something said in his praise, commending him for what he had done in destroying the nation of Amalek (see Luke 7:40).


Samuel had been in prayer all night for Saul. He had actually pleaded with God to forgive Saul. Now Samuel wants Saul to stay and hear what the LORD said about all of this. Saul stays and tells Samuel to go ahead and tell him.


1 Samuel 15:17 "And Samuel said, When thou [wast] little in thine own sight, [wast] thou not [made] the head of the tribes of Israel, and the LORD anointed thee king over Israel?"


"Little in thine own sight": Saul's status before he became king was as a humble and lowly Benjamite (9:21).


We remember that Saul had been a shy man. He had not thought himself worthy of being king. He had hidden among the wagons from Samuel. He thought someone else was worthier to be king. That is one of the reasons God had chosen him to be king. God wanted someone who would obey His commandments. Saul is strong-willed as he was an impatient man. He did things that were pleasing in his own eyes and not in God's eyes. God anointed him king, because he was humble. His accomplishments have made Saul overly proud of himself.


1 Samuel 15:18 "And the LORD sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed."


And therefore, he ought to have attended to the errand sent upon, and executed the orders given. In vain, therefore, was it to lay the blame on the people.


"And said, go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites": Those notorious sinners, who deserve no mercy at the hands of God or men; who had so highly offended the Lord, and had been so injurious to his people at their first coming out of Egypt. The orders were plain, not to be mistaken, and full and strong for the utter destruction of them without any exception, and therefore nothing could be pleaded in excuse for the violation of them.


"And fight against them until they be consumed": Entirely; they were not to be left until an end was made of them; or "until they had consumed them", by the people of Israel, or the soldiers with Saul.