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Bible Pathways 04/02/2003

April 2

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 Philistines lived on the coastal plains of the Mediterranean Sea, on the Israelites' southwestern border. They were a hostile people who declared war on God's people. As the battle intensified, Israel was defeated by the Philistines (I Samuel 4:2). In desperation, the elders of Israel asked, Why did the LORDdefeat us today. . . . Let's bring the ark of the LORD's covenant from Shiloh. Then Hewill go with us and save us from 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 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 has fled from the Philistines, and there was a great slaughter. . . . Also . . . Hophni and Phinehas, died, and the ark of God has been taken! When the messengermentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward . . . and he died (4:17-18).

With the death of Eli, Samuel came to the forefront of both Israel's civil and spiritual life. Samuel told them . . . set your hearts on the LORD, and serve only Him. Then, He will rescue you from the hand of the Philistines. . . .Samuel then said, Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I'll pray to the LORDon your behalf. . . . there they confessed, We've 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. Samuel was still offering the burnt offering when the Philistines drew near to fight against Israel. The LORD thundered with a powerful blast against the Philistines that day and . . . they were defeated by 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 on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful (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 (Psalms 18:2; 121:2). I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

Prayer Needs:

Government Official: Rep. Paul Kanjorski (PA) · Country: Tuvalu (11,000) nine islands in the southwestern Pacific · Major languages: Tuvaluan and English · Religious freedom · 92% Protestant; 5% Baha'i; 2% Roman Catholic · Prayer Suggestion: Ask the Lord to help you receive instruction and discipline that you might become wise and discerning (Proverbs 16:23).

Optional Reading: Acts 3

Memory Verse for the Week: I Peter 2:2

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