April 2, 2006

Read 1 Samuel 4

In Today's Reading:

Consequences of sin; death of Eli; Ark of the Covenant taken; Israel defeated; Ark is returned

The hostile Philistines lived on the coastal plains of the Mediterranean Sea, on the southwestern border of Israel and often declared war on God's people. And when they joined battle, Israel was smitten (defeated) before the Philistines (I Samuel 4:2). In desperation, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines?Let us fetch the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh . . . that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies (4:3-5).

Because of a 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 (Exodus 25:10-22). The Israelites marched into battle against the Philistines confident of victory. But the two sons of Eli who carried the Ark were evil men at that time (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 hath been . . . a great slaughter . . . thy 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 he died (4:17-18).

After the death of Eli, Samuel spake unto all . . . Israel . . . prepare your hearts unto 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 unto the LORD. . . . 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 burnt 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 comforting 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).

Word Studies:

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.

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 (Psalms 18:2; 121:2). I can do all things through Christ which (who) strengtheneth me (Phillipians 4:13).

Prayer Needs:

Pray for Government Official (listed on their birthdays): Rep. Paul Kanjorski (PA) · Country: Norway (4 million) in northern Europe · Major language: Norwegian · Religious freedom · 95% Protestant; .4% Roman Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Examine yourself. Has prosperity dulled your willingness to sacrifice (Haggai 1:4)?

Optional Reading: Acts 3

Memory Verse for the Week: I Samuel 15:22