Read I Samuel 4 -- 7
In Today's Reading:
Consequences of sin; death of Eli; Ark of the Covenant taken; Israel defeated; Ark is returned
The hostile Philistines who lived on the coastal plains of the Mediterranean Sea, on the southwestern border of Israel, often warred against God's people. In one of those times when they joined battle, Israel was smitten (defeated) before the Philistines (I Samuel 4:2). In desperation, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore (Why) has the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us bring the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh . . . that, when it comes among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies (4:3-5).
Because of their apostasy and lack of spiritual insight, the Israelites' hopes were on the Ark, not on God who dwelt above the Mercy Seat and who alone has power to save (see Exodus 25:10-22). Confident of victory, the Israelites marched into battle against the Philistines led by the two evil sons of Eli carrying the Ark (see I Samuel 2:12).
Eli, who was old and blind, sat near the Tabernacle anxious to hear the outcome of the battle. A messenger returned and reported: Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there has been also a great slaughter . . . and 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 . . . his neck broke, and he died (4:17-18).
After the death of Eli, Samuel spoke to all . . . Israel, saying . . . prepare your hearts to the LORD, and serve Him only: and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. . . . And Samuel said, Gather all Israel to Mizpeh, and I will pray for you to the LORD. And they . . . said there, 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. And as Samuel was offering up the burned offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited (overwhelmed) them; and they were smitten before Israel (7:10-13).
The satisfying truth is that God works through men and women of faith, like Samuel, who display their trust in Him by their obedience to His Word. Let us hold fast (firmly) the profession of our faith without wavering; (for He is faithful that promised) (Hebrews 10:23).
4:9 quit yourselves like men = act like men and exercise all the strength you have; 4:12 his clothes rent . . . earth upon his head = signs of great sorrow; 4:13 his heart trembled = he was deeply concerned and anxious; 4:18 judged = governed or ruled; 4:19 travailed = gave birth; 5:6 emerods = tumors, boils; 6:2 diviners = fortune-tellers; 6:5 images = likenesses; 6:6 had wrought wonderfully = did mighty things; 6:7 milch kine = heifers, milk cows; 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.
Through the rock called Ebenezer, which means The Stone of Help (I Samuel 7:12). Jesus is the Rock of our salvation; our help comes from Him (see Psalms 18:2; 121:2). I can do all things through Christ which (who) strengthens me (Phillipians 4:13).
Pray for Government Official: Rep. Paul Kanjorski (PA) · Country: Slovakia (5 million) central Europe · Major languages: Slovak and Hungarian · Religious freedom · 60% Roman Catholic; 8% Protestant; 4% Orthodox · Prayer Suggestion: Call unto the Lord and He will give you strength to overcome (Jeremiah 33:3).
Optional Reading: Acts 3
Memory Verse for the Week: Colossians 2:11