August 18, 2015
1 Samuel 4
The Ark of God was captured, and Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas died. 1 Samuel 4:11
LET IT GLOW
Have you ever stayed in a motel and asked the clerk to call you at an early time the next morning? We have a few times. It was to insure that we woke up. Duh! Well I got one of those wake up calls from the Lord.
So many of us can say that we strayed from God, then we returned to Him when tragedy, problems, troubles, and situations struck. How about you? I certainly can. I recall a time when I was doing my will, my way and not His will, His way. I took the wrong job, went to the wrong school to teach. I knew it deep down in my heart, but my faith was not strong enough to trust God to provide the difference in salary. I was doing things my way. Boy, did I reap the consequences! When pressure was more than I could bear, some 4 years later, I quite, right in the middle of the year. I had to get out of there. I answered the wake up call. Then I spent the rest of the time finally surrendering to God and receiving healing for my sick soul. (God provided through it all.) Well, the next fall, I went to the right school I was supposed to teach at before all that happened. I got into God's will, doing it His way. That year, several first graders came to Christ for their Savior. What blessings await those who do God's will His way!
Eli came to grips with the judgment of God upon his family. He had not disciplined his two sons for their sinful acts at the temple of God. Samuel had the difficult job of delivering it to Eli as a direct message from God. And we read of such happening in this chapter. Because of Samuel's delivering the Word from God that came true, actually happened, Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of God.
They were doing things their way, not stopping Eli's unholy acts. Eli was 98 years old and had served as their high priest and judge for 40 years. Since He did not discipline his two sons, why didn't someone step up and do it? Israel was doing what was right in their own eyes.
The Philistines were probably in the land during the exodus of Israel. By this time, they had a federation with five center: Ashdod, Ekron, Ashkelon, Gaza, and Gath. In this particular battle, Israel pitched camp at Ebenezer near Mizpah. The Philistines camped in Aphek, an unknown site. (Liberty Bible Commentary)
Israel lost that battle, having 40,000 killed. You may ask what good can come of that. It woke Israel up. When some soldiers returned into camp after the defeat, the elders asked, Why did the LORD bring defeat upon us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the LORD's covenant from Shiloh so that it may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies. (verse 3,NIV)
The Jeremiah Study Bible explains:
The elders of Israel rightly acknowledged that their defeat was due to God's displeasure, not the Philistines military might. but rather than confessing their sin and repenting, they irreverently attempted to manipulate God by using the Ark of the Covenant like a good-=luck charm. Although the Ark symbolized God's presence, it did not guarantee His favor (Num. 10:35)
That was a good question, guys. Answer your wake up call. So they sent men to Shiloh to bring the Ark into their camp. Now, Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas were there with it. Israel got excited and gave a great shout when the Ark came into camp. Israel considered having the Ark with them insured victory for them because it symbolized God's presence. However, that was not true in this case, unfortunately.
The Philistines heard the shouting from Israel's camp and inquired what was happening there. They admitted they were in trouble when informed God was with Israel, only they called Him "a god." Remembering what happened to the Egyptians and all the plagues God had brought upon them, the Philistines encouraged their army to be strong lest they become slaves to Israel, be men and fight.
That was quite a pep talk, because 30,000 Israeli's were killed, along with Eli's two sons, and the Ark of God was captured. Oh, not, Israel wake up! They were trusting in an outward form of religion rather than in God's real supernatural power.
On the same day, a Benjaminite man from the battle ran into Shiloh with his clothes torn and dust on his head, people knew it was bad news of the battle. Eli was sitting in a chair on the side of the road because he feared for the Ark. He heard the noise when the man revealed the bad news. Then, when the man told Eli about their heavy losses, including the death of his two sons and capture of the Ark of God, this heavy man fell backwards in his chair, broke his neck, and died. Such tragedy! Wake up Israel! (Samuel's prophetic message came true.)
Do we want God out of our society because He messes up our lifestyle and beliefs? What does it take to wake us up from our being lulled to sleep spiritually? Does it take a tragedy to get us to surrender to God? Why not surrender now so we don't have to go through such things?
LET IT GROW
Now the wife of one of Eli's sons, Phinehas, was pregnant and near her time of delivery. When she heard of the new of the Ark being capture, her husband and father-in-law were both dead, then went into labor and gave birth to a son. As she lay dying, she named him Ichabod because the glory of the Lord had departed from Israel. Ichabod means no glory, in Hebrew.
How do we react when tragedy strikes our family? Do we fall on our knees, calling out to the Lord? Or do we allow it to make us bitter and blame God? He awaits with loving arms open for us to come to Him for strength and comfort.
LET IT GO
Allow God to change my heart so it does not take a tragedy to do so.
Surrender to God in all situations.
Trust that He knows best.
Let God turn our bad into something for our good and for His glory.