Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
And the men of Kirjathjearim came, and fetched up the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD.
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.7. The Return Unto Jehovah and the Deliverance
1. Samuel’s message and the response of the people (1Samuel 7:3-4)
2. Gathered at Mizpah (1Samuel 7:5-6)
3. The deliverance (1Samuel 7:7-14)
Samuel now is seen beginning his great national ministry. The message he brings is the message of repentance and the assurance of faith. In simple words he addressed the people, who no doubt were prepared for it by their long period of humiliation. He demands that their true return to the Lord must be practical; the strange gods and Ashtaroth must be put away. If they serve the Lord only, deliverance out of the hands of the Philistines would come. The message was at once obeyed. Every true return to the Lord must manifest itself in the same way. True repentance without self-judgment and self-surrender is impossible. The earnest appeal and whole-hearted response by the people led to the great gathering at Mizpah (the watch tower). It was a day of humiliation and prayer. Samuel said “I will pray unto the Lord for you.” He was the child of prayer and the man of prayer (8:6; 12:19, 23). “Samuel among them that call upon His name; they called upon the LORD and He answered them” (Psalm 99:6). There was confession of sin and they drew water, and poured it out before Jehovah. It was a symbolical act showing the undone and helpless condition of Israel. “We must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground” (2Samuel 14:14). When the Philistines came up against them they were afraid and acknowledged prayer as their only refuge and help. “Cease not” they appealed to Samuel, “to cry for us unto the LORD our God.” And afterwards he offered a whole burnt offering unto the Lord. This offering represents Christ. Then Samuel cried unto the LORD and the LORD answered him. The elements of a true return unto the Lord and a true revival among God’s people are found in this great national movement. While Samuel offered the burnt offering and interceded for Israel the Philistines drew near. Then came the interference from the LORD. It was a supernatural thundering which discomfited the Philistines, and they were smitten. Israel gains a great victory. They pursue the enemy to Beth-car (house of the lamb). Between Mizpeh and Shen the stone called by Samuel “Ebenezer” is put up as a memorial. Ebenezer means “stone of help.” “Helped--but only ‘hitherto’! For all Jehovah’s help is only ‘hitherto’--from day to day, and from place to place--not unconditionally, nor wholly, nor once for all, irrespective of our bearing.” (A. Edersheim, Bible History.)
And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.8. Samuel Exercising His Office and His Failure
1. Samuel the Prophet-Judge (1Samuel 7:15-17)
2. His failure (1Samuel 8:1-3)
Samuel’s activity as the great prophet-judge is now seen. He had a blessed circuit of ministry, which has its spiritual lessons for us. He first visited Bethel (the house of God). Judgment must begin there. When Jacob was obedient to the divine call “Arise and go up unto Bethel,” he buried the strange gods, the household gods under the oak of Shechem. So the evil things must be put away. Then came Gilgal (rolling). There the reproach of Egypt was rolled away (Joshua 5). This is what we need, to be freed from the world, dead to it and the world dead to us. Mizpeh (watch tower) was his third station. This is our constant need to be on our guard and watch against the foe, as well as look upward and forward from Mizpeh to that blessed home where He is and which we shall surely share with Him. This is represented in Ramah (heights) where Samuel had his home. But there is failure. Samuel makes the mistake in making his sons judges. Because he was a judge and prophet and had success in it, his sons are to follow him in the same capacity. God does not work by succession, nor does He transmit gift and power from father to son. The so-called “apostolic succession” and traditional authority is an invention and one of the greatest factors in the corruption of Christianity. The Lord alone can call to service and give gifts for the ministry. Joel and Abiah were judges in Beersheba, but walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment. And this opened the way for the introduction of the monarchy in Israel.