Verse 3: And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do (Deut. 30:2-10; 1 Kings 8:48; Isa. 55:7; Hos. 6:1; Joel 2:12) return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then (Gen. 35:2; Josh. 24:14, 23) put away the strange gods and (Judg. 2:13) Ashtaroth from among you, and (2 Chron. 30:19; Job 11:13, 14) prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and (Deut. 6:13; 10:20; 13:4; Matt. 4:10; Luke 4:8) serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.
[Now, Samuel says to the entire house of Israel] The location of this assembly was not one (for no place would suffice for them all), but multiple. For, he went from year to year in a circuit to Bethel, etc., verse 16. Neither after the twentieth year, but immediately from the first return of the Ark, did he begin to preach, and inculcate the doctrine hear delivered; otherwise he would appear to have inherited the faintheartedness of Eli (Mendoza).
Unto all the house of Israel; to all the rulers and people too, as he had occasion in his circuit, described below, verse 16, mixing exhortations to repentance with his judicial administrations.
[If with all your heart, etc.] In restoring the republic first regard ought to be had for the worship of God. A learned physician first seeks out the cause of the disease; then he applies remedies. But the cause of the public dissipation was idolatry. The Roman Emperors, before leading forth the army, were wont to perform sacred rites, and to placate the gods (Martyr). But, all Israel rested after God, as we saw from the preceding verse; how then are they now urged to it? Reponses: 1. He teaches that the strange Gods, which they had cast out in execution, they should detest in their very affections; so that they might completely destroy all inclinations to them; so that, what they had completed in deed, they might hold as firm and ratified by a new resolution of soul. Thus, after all the Midianites were killed, Numbers 31:7, he says, kill ye, etc.; which is to say, keep and renew the intention of punishing the enemies of God. See also Numbers 3:6; Genesis 11:31; Exodus 33:1-6. 2. Strange gods were yet being worshipping by some, although few, and so reckoned here as none. 3. Perhaps some were retaining their idols, not for worship, but because of the price of the gold and silver of which they were made. But Samuel was willing that this occasion of, and enticement to, idolatry be removed. Thus in Exodus 32:20; Deuteronomy 7:25 (Mendoza). To be converted to God with all the heart is explained in what follows; and it is to aspire to the one God in such a way that our thoughs and counsels regard only Him, and that nothing of the filth of strange religion cleaves to the soul (Sanchez). He dehorts them from returning to God in part; for He will not bear a division, but requires the whole man (Calvin). The whole heart, that is, entire, and the entire manner of life, He requires (Drusius). With these words Samuel points out that there was yet something of pretense in them, and that they were not converted to God in earnest; because they were mixing their superstitions with the worship of God, and still had treacherous and duplicitous hearts; and the division was unacceptable to God (Calving).
If ye do return unto the Lord; if you do indeed what you profess, if you are resolved to go on in that which you seem to have begun. With all your heart; sincerely and in good earnest.
[Remove the strange Gods (thus Pagnine, Arabic, Jonathan, Munster, Tigurinus), אֱלֹהֵ֧י הַנֵּכָ֛ר] The Gods of a foreign (Montanus, Junius and Tremellius), understanding, nation (Junius and Tremellius), or a foreign stock (Vatablus), of a foreign (or unknown [Drusius]), understanding, people (Munster, Drusius).
Put away the strange gods out of your houses, where some of you keep and worship them; and out of your hearts and affections, where they still have an interest in many of you.
[And Ashtaroth (thus Pagnine, Montanus, Munster, Tigurinus, Jonathan, Junius and Tremellius, Mariana), וְהָעַשְׁתָּרוֹת] And the groves (Septuagint). Perhaps they read אֲשֵׁרוֹת/Asheroth/groves (Drusius). But the sense is the same: because idols are always indicated, either by their name, or by their place. Aquila has the groves of Ashtaroth, so that he might signify that not only are the idols to be removed, but even the very groves in which they are worshipped are to be eradicated; lest, if the place remain, the idolatry spring up again (Mendoza). [The Syriac has, and the shrines: the Arabic, and the idols of the women that ye do secretly worship.] See Judges 2:13. They were idols in the form of sheep (Piscator). Ashtaroth makes use of the plural number, either, so that it might signify all the Gods of the nations, or, so that it might indicate its prerogative and excellence; in which manner the true God is called אֱלֺהִים/ Elohim (Mendoza). The sense: Destroy all the impious and illegitimate consecrated things, and the worship of all the gods and goddesses (Osiander).
And Ashtaroth; and particularly or especially Ashtaroth, which he mentions as a god, whom they, together with the neighbouring nations, did more eminently worship. See Judges 2:13.
[Prepare your hearts for the Lord] Or unto the Lord (Septuagint, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, Montanus, English, Calvin). That is, dispose yourselves to worship Him alone (Tostatus). Have a heart pliant, and which wills to follow the commandments of God. And we are commanded in Scripture to prepare our hearts; and God is read to furnish it (Martyr). The sense: Those depraved affections, with which ye were corrupted for so many years, transform into better ones. The sense is the same as in Jeremiah 4:4. Have a resolute and constant purpose sincerely to worship God. He signifies by these words that the Jews were yet ill prepared, although they wept over, and sought, God. This is to be properly observed. For such is the dullness of men, that, if they sometimes begin well, they seem to themselves to have come to the apex of knowledge and wisdom; and they think themselves publicly to have discharged the duty, if they feign a slight and hollow repentance, or verbally confess themselves to be sinners (Calvin).
[וְהָכִ֙ינוּ לְבַבְכֶ֤ם אֶל־יְהוָה֙] [Others translate the passage otherwise.] Dispose your hearts unto the Lord (Dutch), or before the Lord (Arabic), well inclined toward the Lord (Castalio); establish your heart for the worship of the Lord (Arabic); have your heart established towards the Lord (Syriac). Ye have begun, says he, to return to the Lord: now confirm it, lest the conversion be temporary and vain. Made yourselves certain concerning this matter (Martyr). Direct your heart to the Lord (Osiander, Strigelius), that is, since hitherto ye have been turned toward idolatrous worship; with this omitted and rejected, now in true faith adhere to your God (Osiander). The כּוּן signifies to direct, to confirm, or to render certain (Martyr).
Prepare your hearts, by purging them from all sin, and particularly from all inclinations to other gods. Or, direct your hearts; having alienated your hearts from your idols, turn them to God, and not to other idols or vanities.
[And He will pluck you out of the hands of the Philistines] This promise of Samuel was not void: as it will be evident below from their victory (Mendoza). Observe here that there is more to be avoided by us, than the most well prepared troops of enemies: and so the magistrate does a poor job looking after the public welfare, if he enlists soldiers, etc., unless he first declares war on sins (Sanchez).
And he will deliver you; or, then; upon these conditions you may confidently expect it.
Verse 4: Then the children of Israel did put away (Judg. 2:11) Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the LORD only.
[Baalim and Ashtaroth] The former is used of male gods alone; the latter of females alone; and from both is indicated the whole multitude of Gods and Goddesses removed from their midst: with the Grammar of the Hebrews favoring this, among whom by these termination, ִים-/-im and וֹת-/-oth, the masculine and feminine are distinguished (Mendoza). By these words are signified the Gods and Goddesses of the nations (Vatablus).
 Hebrew: וַיֹּ֣אמֶר שְׁמוּאֵ֗ל אֶל־כָּל־בֵּ֣ית יִשְׂרָאֵל֮ לֵאמֹר֒ אִם־בְּכָל־לְבַבְכֶ֗ם אַתֶּ֤ם שָׁבִים֙ אֶל־יְהוָ֔ה הָסִ֜ירוּ אֶת־אֱלֹהֵ֧י הַנֵּכָ֛ר מִתּוֹכְכֶ֖ם וְהָעַשְׁתָּר֑וֹת וְהָכִ֙ינוּ לְבַבְכֶ֤ם אֶל־יְהוָה֙ וְעִבְדֻ֣הוּ לְבַדּ֔וֹ וְיַצֵּ֥ל אֶתְכֶ֖ם מִיַּ֥ד פְּלִשְׁתִּֽים׃  Judges 2:13: “And they forsook the Lord, and served Baal and Ashtaroth (וַיַּעַבְד֥וּ לַבַּ֖עַל וְלָעַשְׁתָּרֽוֹת׃).”  Note the feminine plural ending (וֹת-).  Note the masculine plural ending (ִים-).  Hebrew: וְהָכִ֙ינוּ לְבַבְכֶ֤ם אֶל־יְהוָה֙.  See, for example, Deuteronomy 10:16; Joshua 24:23; Joel 2:12.  See, for example, Deuteronomy 30:6; 1 Kings 8:58; Psalm 119:36; 141:4.  Hebrew: וַיָּסִ֙ירוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֶת־הַבְּעָלִ֖ים וְאֶת־הָעַשְׁתָּרֹ֑ת וַיַּעַבְד֥וּ אֶת־יְהוָ֖ה לְבַדּֽוֹ׃