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1 Samuel 4 - The Glory Departs

Israel found out the hard way that God's not a genie in a bottle. Learn from their mistake.


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1 Samuel 4 Summary


We're jumping into the 4th chapter, so we'll take a moment to get up to speed:

  • Chapter 1 opens with a desperate mother who's been unable to have children. She prays so fervently for a child that Eli, the high priest, thinks she's drunk. After being assured by Eli that her prayer will be answered, her son is born and Hannah immediately gives the boy over for temple service.

  • Chapter 2 records Hannah's beautiful prayer of thanksgiving for her son, but then begins to tell of Eli's sons who are described as 'scoundrels (v12 NIV).'

  • In chapter 3, young Samuel is called by God in the middle of the night, and told of the doom that would come to Eli's house since he failed to restrain his sons' wickedness.

Now in chapter 4, the prophecy Samuel received has come true. The Israelites are routed - twice - by the Philistines, and worst of all, the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God's presence and blessing amongst Israel, has been captured and hauled away.


The news of this awful defeat is enough to topple the 98 year old Eli backwards, and he dies after being crushed by his own weight (v18), and his grandson, born that same day, is named Ichabod: the glory has departed (v22).



Dig Deeper


Notice the irony in this chapter: The Philistines - the arch enemy of Israel - know God better than the Israelites do! They know that they're going up against the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness (v8).


The Israelites, who haven't been properly taught about God for decades because of the religious corruption of Hophni and Phinehas, demonstrate that a little knowledge of God is far more dangerous than having no knowledge of Him.


They pin all of their hopes on the Ark:

Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here... that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies (v3 ESV).

God is not a genie in a bottle that you can count on to solve your problems when nothing else seems to work.


Remember what the Israelites forgot: God's people are covenantally bound to Him, meaning that like Samuel, your life must be completely dedicated to Him even though you don't live in the temple.



AAA Prayer:

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Even God's enemies tremble before Him!

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will remain dedicated to God at all times, and not just when you're in trouble.

  • ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:

 

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