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Bible Pathways 04/02/2002

  • 2002 Apr 02
  • COMMENTS

April 02

Read 1 Samuel 4 -- 7

In Today's Reading:

The consequences of sinful living are seen as death strikes the family of Eli and the Ark of the Covenant is captured by the Philistines who defeat Israel in battle l Philistines plagued because of the Ark l The Ark returned l The holiness of God is emphasized as all who look into the Ark die l Samuel becomes Judge of Israel and history's first "circuit riding preacher."

Verse for Today:

And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts . . . and serve Him only . . . He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:3).

The Philistines lived on the coastal plains of the Mediterranean Sea that bordered the Israelites' southwestern territory. They were a hostile people who declared war against Israel. There were about four thousand Israelite casualties (1 Samuel 4:2). But then, with great anticipation, the two sons of Eli brought the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of hosts into the midst of their army (4:3-5).

The lack of spiritual insight by the Israelites had caused them to confuse the physical presence of the Ark with the Lord, Whom it represented, and Who alone has the power to save (Exodus 25:10-22). Without first committing themselves to God and seeking His blessing and deliverance, the Israelites boldly marched into battle against the Philistines with great confidence of a glorious victory. The two evil sons of Eli the high priest probably carried the Ark, but they did not recognize the need to repent of their sins and conduct themselves as obedient servants of the Lord.

Eli, who was old and blind, sat near the Tabernacle at Shiloh, anxiously waiting to hear the outcome of the battle. A messenger returned and reported to Eli that Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there [has] been . . . a great slaughter . . . [your] two sons . . . Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the Ark of God is taken. . . . When he (the messenger) made mention of the Ark of God, he (Eli) fell . . . backward . . . and his neck [broke], and he died (4:17-18).

The Israelites had reached an all-time low in moral and spiritual darkness. For the first time in Israel's history, the Ark of the Lord's presence was in the hands of the enemies of God.

With the death of Eli, Samuel came to the forefront of both Israel's civil and spiritual leadership. And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you. . . . And they gathered together to Mizpeh . . . and said . . . We have sinned against the Lord (7:3,5-6). When the Philistines learned that the Israelites were worshiping God, they assumed it was an opportune time to attack since Israel would be unprepared to fight. And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines. . . . So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into . . . Israel . . . all the days of Samuel (7:10-13).

The truth is, God will use any man or woman who, like Samuel, is obedient to His Word. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised) (Hebrews 10:23).

Christ Revealed:

Through the rock called Ebenezer, which means the stone of help (1 Samuel 7:12). Jesus is the Rock of our salvation and our help comes from Him (Psalms 18:2; 121:2).

Word Studies:

4:9 quit yourselves like men = act like men and exercise all the strength you have; 4:12 his clothes rent = his clothes torn as a sign of grief or mourning; earth upon his head = a sign of grief or mourning; 4:13 his heart trembled = he was very concerned and anxious; 4:18 judged = governed or ruled; 4:19 travailed = gave birth; 5:6 emerods perhaps tumors, boils; 6:2 diviners = fortune-tellers; 6:5 images = likenesses; 6:6 had wrought wonderfully = did mighty things; 6:7 kine = heifers; 6:8 coffer = box; 6:14 clave = split; 7:1 sanctified = consecrated; 7:3 strange = foreign, false; 7:10 discomfited them = confused them and caused them to panic.

Prayer Needs:

Government Official: Rep. Paul Kanjorski (PA) · Country: Armenia (3 million) southwest Transcaucasia between Europe and Asia · Major languages: Armenian and Russian · Religious freedom · 79% Armenian/Russian Orthodox; 3% Muslim · Prayer Suggestion: Know that God answers prayer (Psalms 118:5).

Optional Reading: Acts 3

Memory Verse for the Week: 1 Peter 2:2

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