1 Samuel 4:12-22 The Glory of God within You
1 Samuel 4:12-22
12 Now a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes torn and dust on his head. 13 When he came, behold, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road eagerly watching, because his heart was trembling for the ark of God. So the man came to tell it in the city, and all the city cried out. 14 When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he said, “What does the noise of this commotion mean?” Then the man came hurriedly and told Eli. 15 Now Eli was ninety- eight years old, and his eyes were set so that he could not see. 16 The man said to Eli, “I am the one who came from the battle line. Indeed, I escaped from the battle line today.” And he said, “How did things go, my son?” 17 Then the one who brought the news replied, “Israel has fled before the Philistines and there has also been a great slaughter among the people, and your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been taken.” 18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell off the seat backward beside the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for he was old and heavy. Thus he judged Israel forty years. 19 Now his daughter- in- law, Phinehas’s wife, was pregnant and about to give birth; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was taken and that her father- in- law and her husband had died, she kneeled down and gave birth, for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have given birth to a son.” But she did not answer or pay attention. 21 And she called the boy Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel,” because the ark of God was taken and because of her father- in- law and her husband. 22 She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God was taken.”
The loss of the Ark becomes inevitable in the face of rampant worldliness and sin within Israel. In those days, the Ark of God hosts God’s presence and power, it symbolizes God’s intimacy and endorsement of His people. In today’s age of the Spirit, the glory of God rest not in objects of worship, but within worshipers fully devoted to His work. As Jesus calls rebellious Israel to repentance by displaying God’s glory through the Spirit, God calls all to repentance today by working Christ’s miracles through those who believe in Him. Paul says, “God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27.
Behold, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road eagerly watching, because his heart was trembling for the ark of God – Eli’s heart was trembling because his greatest fear came true. Eli knew that the inevitable must happen; his sons would die, lives and cities lost and the Ark taken from Israel. Eli as high priest allowed the Ark to be sent to the frontline, his refusal to honor God in allowing his sons to do evil in contempt of God has put the Ark at risk and the nation on the edge of destruction.
Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been taken. – These must have been one of the darkest days in the history of Israel. On a single day, Israel lost the entire family of priests save the newborn son of Phinehas. For the first time, Ark of God was captured together with two cities and 30,000 lives were lost. Eli must have taken the guilt onto himself having the lost the Ark during his tenure as high priest.
And she called the boy Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel,” – The wife of one of Eli’s sons gave birth and she named him Ichabod as a witness of the loss of the Ark that carries the glory of God. Israel could have interpreted the loss as God abandoning them and some individuals from either side may even perceive God as being defeated by the gods of the Philistines. But this is unlikely given the many stories of Israel’s victory in the face of enemies much greater than the Philistines. Nevertheless, this is the first time, Israel handed over to the enemy the Ark that belonged within the veil of the temple, in the Holy of Holies. It is unthinkable that the Ark would ever fall into the hands of the unclean and placed in a temple of foreign gods. On a side note, from the names the wife of Phinehas and Hannah had given to their sons, one can only notice the stark contrast of strength and vision during the age of darkness. One carries vision and faith in God, and the other, utter hopelessness and despair.
The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God was taken – The glory of God refers to the visible manifestation of God’s presence or power. The sins of Israel and the wickedness of the priesthood had in fact caused God to withdraw His glory as evident in the rarity of divine revelations in those days. As the Ark was the only physical object that hosted God’s glory, the capture of the Ark symbolizes the complete removal of what is in the people’s perception the last remaining element of God’s glory in Israel.
The Ark is important in that it represents God’s intimacy with His people as well as His approval towards Israel. In many occasions, battles were won and rivers of water stopped by the Ark going ahead as God fought the battles for them. The Ark’s capture is a clear sign of God withdrawing His divine endorsement and favor over Israel and the beginning of a period of discipline and lamentation. Despite God’s repeated warnings, the priestly family insists on pushing the boundaries of God’s patience thinking that God would continue to fight for them as He has done in previous battles.
- God’s continual favor and blessings must fuel our pursuit of godliness and love for Him. We must never take for granted God’s continual presence and favor in our lives. Believers must harbor a right attitude towards God’s lovingkindness and mercies. His grace must fuel us towards a greater dedication towards Him and His work. Many believers because they did not experience many problems in their family life and career become complacent in their pursuit of godliness and service towards Him. Hence, many are drawn to the comfort and the cares of life. Attending Sunday worship services for many works towards appeasing God to keep His favor flowing. The people of Israel during the days of Eli lived in relative calm under God’s favor and protection. Unfortunately, that did not cause them to continue in their pursuit of godliness and truth.
- Discipline is some times necessary in order to bring forth enduring prosperity. God’s discipline may incur the loss of life, precious years of productivity and fruitfulness and lost opportunities. When God’s people cross the line, there will be severe punishment in the light of God’s love. Man’s basic instinct strives to test the limit of God’s forbearance; how far would the longsuffering of God allow one to go in his fleshly pursuits? One can never toe the line of darkness and light very long before he falls and suffer severe consequences. The Ten Commandments stipulate clear moral boundaries that must never be transgressed, for it causes the transgressor to be exposed to the attacks of the enemy.
- A man who puts His trust in God interprets circumstances and perceives the future as God would. Therefore, the more we entrust to God our daily challenges the more positive our outlook becomes. No matter how difficult the circumstances may be, those who trust in God will always find the strength to press on. There are no death sentences on this earth; in whatever circumstances, one could make the choice to either persevere by looking to God or to give up in despair. The wife of Phinehas lost all hope; yet Hannah became the seed of Israel’s salvation. When one turns from a life that is characterized by self-rule, he receives a new Spirit of hope that will enable him to persevere on the road of restoration and prosperity.
- In the age of the Spirit, the glory of God rest not in objects of worship but in worshipers fully devoted to God. The glory of God represents God’s presence and His power at work. In those days, God’s glory rest in the Ark with the purpose of ministering to the worshipers and turning them to God when they come to the temple. Today, God’s glory and power accompanies those who give themselves to serve God’s purposes and to do His work. Hence, those who aspire to operate in God’s glory must endeavor to live holy lives. Mark 16:17-18 say,
“And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
However, the presence of physical manifestations in a meeting does not mean that divine approval of those present has taken place; it is a call to repentance and holy living. As Jesus was present in the days of the gospel calling sinners to repentance, healing the sick and manifesting God’s presence in the flesh amidst an apostate Israel; in the age of the Spirit, the physical manifestations of God’s power in healings and the casting out of demons will continue even in the midst of rampant worldliness among the churches. Believers who are holy and righteous will carry God’s glory in miracles and turning many back to God.
- List down the gifts and blessings that you have received from God. How would you respond to God’s abundant love and grace towards you? A definite way to respond to God will be to commit yourself to understanding God’s values system and plans for your life through reading the word daily.
- If you desire to receive God’s glory and power to do His work. Take the first step by committing yourself in a discipleship programme in your church. By doing so, you set a firm foundation of truth on which the power of the Spirit can operate. Be actively involved in serving with the church in evangelism and in various ministries through which you can discover the spiritual gifts given to you.
Dear Lord, I thank you for choosing me as your vessel of glory. Use me to display your power and love to the world and turn them back to you. Cause me to see challenges through your eyes and reveal to me your plans of salvation. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.