Drew water, and poured it out - It is not easy to know what is meant by this; it is true that pouring out water, in the way of libation, was a religious ordinance among the Hebrews, ( Isaiah 12:3;), and among most other nations, particularly the Greeks and Romans, who used, not only water, but wine, milk, honey, and blood, as we find by Homer, Virgil, Euripides, Sophocles, Porphyry, and Lucian. Our Lord seems to allude to this ceremony, John 7:37-38; (note), where see the note.
The Chaldee Paraphrast understands the place differently, for he translates: "And they poured out their hearts in penitence, as Waters, before the Lord." That deep penitential sorrow was represented under the notion of pouring out water, we have a direct proof in the case of David, who says, Psalms 22:14, I am Poured Out like Water, my heart is like wax; it is Melted in the midst of my bowels. And to repentance, under this very similitude, the prophet exhorts fallen Jerusalem: Arise, cry out in the night; in the beginning of the watches Pour Out thine Heart Like Water before the face of the Lord; Lamentations 2:19. David uses the same image, Psalms 62:8; : Trust in him at all times, ye people; Pour Out your hearts before him. The same figure is used by Hannah in 1 Samuel 1:15; of this book; I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit; I have Poured Out my soul before the Lord. Perhaps the drawing and pouring out of water mentioned in the text was done emblematically, to represent the contrition of their hearts.
And Samuel judged - He gave them ordinances, heard and redressed grievances, and taught them how to get reconciled to God. The assembly, therefore, was held for religio-politico-military purposes.