The Agora
Bible Commentary
1 Samuel

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1 Samuel 4

1Sa 4:1

PHILISTINES: See Lesson, Philistia in prophecy.

EBENEZER: Sig "stone of help". The name is mentioned three times in the Bible (1Sa 4:1; 5:1; 7:12). According to 1Sa 7:12 it was the name given to a stone set up by Samuel to commemorate the divine assistance given to Israel in battle, whereby they were victorious over the Philistines. Its position was carefully defined as a place between Mizpah and Shen, near Aphek. According to 1Sa 4:1; 5:1, Israel 20 years previously had been soundly defeated there by the Philistines and the ark of God captured and taken to Ashdod. The writer used the name Ebenezer because the place was known by that name at the time of writing.

1Sa 4:3

LET US BRING THE ARK... FROM SHILOH: This carrying of a "god" into battle was a common practice of Gentile armies (cp 2Sa 5:21). This action here suggests the Jews' superstitious reliance upon the ark of God, as though such alone would "save" them in battle, even when they had little or no regard for the commandments of their God.

In later times this characteristic would manifest itself again and again, in a strict observance of the letter of Law, and a love of outward show. "These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men" (Isa 29:13).

1Sa 4:7

THE PHILISTINES WERE AFRAID: They had more faith in the power of God than did the Jews. Sym triumph of Gospel (Gentiles) over Law (Jews).

1Sa 4:9

Cit 1Co 16:13: in context of Gentiles "triumphing" over Jews!

1Sa 4:10

THIRTY THOUSAND FOOT SOLDIERS: See Lesson, Large numbers in the OT.

1Sa 4:11

THE ARK OF GOD WAS CAPTURED: The symbol of God's covenant falls into Gentile hands (1Sa 2:32).

1Sa 4:12

A BENJAMITE RAN FROM THE BATTLE LINE: The herald of the Gentiles' victory over Israel was a Benjamite; typical of Paul sent to Gentiles with gospel.

WENT TO SHILOH: Paul left Israel's hope and came to "Shiloh" (Christ) the same day, when blinded on Damascus road.

HIS CLOTHES TORN AND DUST ON HIS HEAD: Paul always grieved in later years, concerning his persecution of the Christians.

1Sa 4:18

1Sa 4:18.

Eli's two "arms" (his sons: 1Sa 2:31,34) are both cut off. Cp destruction of Dagon: 1Sa 5:4. Two "idolatries": Jewish and Philistine: Eli's neck broken; Dagon's head broken off. Eli's 2 sons/arms cut off; Dagon's arms broken off. Ark departs; ark departs.

1Sa 4:21

THE GLORY HAS DEPARTED: God's glory departs Jerusalem: Eze 10; 11. Cp birth of Benoni/Benjamin in Gen 35:18n.

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