1 Samuel 4

1 Samuel 4 has the Israelites facing the Philistines.  “The Philistines drew up in line against Israel, and when the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the field of battle”.  That didn’t go as the Israelites expected.  Where was God in all this?  How could He allow them to be defeated?  So they decide to take another stab at it.  God must have been asleep.  This time they will take the ark of the covenant with them as they try again.

The Israelites give a large shout as the ark is brought into the middle of their camp.  The Philistines heard it from a distance, and were afraid that God would join the battle this time.  So the Philistine leaders said “Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, lest you become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you; be men and fight”.  They were rallying the troops to get ready for round two, and not to be afraid.  They meet again in battle a second time and this time they really defeat the Israelites, killing 30,000 foot soldiers.

But even worse, the Philistines captured the ark.  One of the warriors ran back to the city to let everyone know that the battle had been lost.  Hophni and Phinehas were dead – and the ark was captured.  This messenger came to Eli, who was 98 years old, blind and well overweight.  “As soon as he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy”.  It didn’t take long for the entire family of Eli to be dead.

He had judged Israel 40 years.  His sons ended up being his downfall.  But as death was having its way with the men, Phinehas’ wife was pregnant and ready to give birth.  She does, and dies giving birth to her son names Ichabod.  That name means “The glory has departed from Israel because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband “.  God has allowed the ark to be grabbed and is sitting on the sideline as the people of Israel self-destruct.

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