New Defender's Study Bible Notes
7:1 Kirjath-jearim. Kirjath-jearim was a city belonging to Benjamin (Joshua 18:21,28), as also were Ramah and Mizpeh (note I Samuel 7:6,17). However, Eleazar was presumably qualified to be a priest and, since he and all the house of Abinadab treated the ark reverently, no harm resulted to Abinadab and his household during the years the ark remained there.
7:2 twenty years. The ark was not removed from Abinadab’s house until well after the long judgeship of Samuel, the forty-year reign of Saul, and at least eight years of David’s reign (I Samuel 7:1; Acts 13:21; II Samuel 5:5). The twenty years mentioned in this verse probably represents the time until Samuel called the people together at Mizpeh, followed by their repentance and subsequent victory over the Philistines (I Samuel 7:3-13).
7:4 Baalim and Ashtaroth. The worship of Baal and Ashtaroth, the chief god and goddess of the Canaanites, as well as the Moabites, the Phoenicians, and many others, had been a snare to Israel ever since the death of Joshua (Judges 2:13) and continued until the time they were carried into exile in Babylon (Jeremiah 32:28,29). “Baalim” and “Ashtaroth” are plural nouns, referring to the images of these supposed deities (actually mere personifications of natural phenomena—Ashtaroth, for example, was the goddess of fertility) or to their various manifestations. The worship of these deities was commonly accompanied by unspeakably cruel and licentious rites, and largely accounts for God’s command to Israel to destroy them out of the land.
7:12 Eben-ezer. “Eben-ezer” means “stone of help.”
7:13 came no more. The Philistines did continue to come against Israel from time to time (e.g., I Samuel 9:16), but never with any measure of success in the days of Samuel.
7:15 Samuel judged Israel. Samuel was the last of the judges, his tenure apparently beginning even before the death of Eli (I Samuel 3:20–4:1). Eli himself, even though he was a priest, may have also served as judge for some forty years before he died (I Samuel 4:18), but this probably itself overlapped the times of Samson. The ark was carried away by the Philistines on the day of Eli’s death. The ark stayed with them for seven months, then was returned to Israel and stayed in the house of Abinadab in Kirjath-jearim at least twenty years before Saul was made king (I Samuel 6:1; 7:2). It was still many years after that when Samuel died at an old age (I Samuel 8:5; 25:1) shortly before Saul died. David finally brought the ark to Jerusalem from Abinadab’s house (II Samuel 6:2-12). If Saul’s monarchy endured forty years (Acts 13:21), Samuel must have judged Israel almost sixty years.