Read I Samuel 4 -- 7
The Philistines lived on the coastal plains of the Mediterranean Sea, at the Israelites' southwestern border. They were a hostile people who declared war and Israel lost a tragic battle which resulted in the death of about four thousand men (I Samuel 4:2). In desperation, the elders of Israel said. . . . Let us fetch 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. With great anticipation, they 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 caused them to confuse the Ark with the One whom it represented. Their hopes were focused on the Ark, rather than on God, who alone has power to save (Exodus 25:10-22). Without committing themselves to God for His blessing and deliverance, the Israelites boldly marched into battle against the Philistines with great confidence of a glorious victory. The two sons of Eli the high priest, who carried the Ark, were evil and wicked men (I Samuel 2:12) who did not recognize the need to repent and worship the Lord.
Eli was old and blind and sat near the Tabernacle anxiously waiting to hear the outcome of the battle. A messenger returned and reported to Eli that Israel . . . fled before the Philistines, and there has been also 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).
With the death of Eli, Samuel came to the forefront of both Israel's civil and spiritual lives. Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, If you do return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods . . . and 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 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 Israel. 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).
During the days of Eli, it appears that the Israelites displayed outward signs of being religious, yet their daily life did not show that they had any desire to do His will. Today, our outward religious practices should be a sign of a genuine heart seeking and pursuing the will of God.
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 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 (I Samuel 7:12). Jesus is the Rock of our salvation; our help comes from Him (Psa. 18:2; 121:2).
Word Studies: 4:9 quit yourselves like men means exercise all the strength you have; 4:12 his clothes rent, earth upon his head means a sign of great grief; 6:2 diviners means fortune-tellers; 7:3 strange means false; 7:10 discomfited means confused.
Government Official: Rep. Paul Kanjorski (PA) · BPM Staff: Letha Hash · Pray for Stephen Wike, Media Management/Crosswalk.com, Inc. · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio broadcast in honor of Emily Kay Wall · Country: Canada (31 million) in North America · Major languages: English and French · Religious freedom · 47% Roman Catholic; 37% Protestant; 3% Eastern Orthodox; 2% cults; 1% Jewish · Prayer Suggestion: Rejoice in the Lord, for He is forgiving to those who call upon Him (Psalms 86:4-5).
Optional Reading: Acts 3
Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 6:33