1 Samuel 4:12-8:22
Have you ever asked where you name came from? My parents had two approaches to naming us four kids. When they started to have kids, my father got to name the girls and my mother got to name the boys. My mother was a fairly standard giver of names. She named my brother Christopher David and myself Timothy Frederick. I was told my middle name was the name of the obstetrician who helped at my birth. She gave fairly standard English names since she had English blood in her.
My father on the other hand named my sisters Phaedra and Cassandra, good solid ancient Greek names. Was my father a good solid ancient Greek? No, just a second generation Polish immigrant from Massachusetts who really enjoyed reading Greek mythology.
In today’s reading we learn two new names – Ebenezer and Ichabod.
Yesterday we learn that the army of Israel suffers a defeat at the hand of the Philistines. In a desperate ill advised act, the army calls for the Ark of the Covenant to be brought forward to use an aid in the battle. To use such a holy and sacred object in such a way, to depend on its perceived power over the true power of God was a huge mistake.
The Philistines in fear of the Ark of the Covenant actually fight so hard that they defeat the army of Israel and the very evil sons of Eli the high priest were killed as a result of their contempt for the offerings of God among other sins.
Yesterday’s reading ended like this:
2 Samuel 4:11 (NLT)
11 The Ark of God was captured, and Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were killed.
Today we learn that Eli, in his old age falls over and dies when he hears of his sons demise.
This brings to our first name – Ichabod:
1 Samuel 4:19 – 22 (NIV)
19 His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near the time of delivery. When she heard the news that the ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains. 20 As she was dying, the women attending her said, "Don’t despair; you have given birth to a son." But she did not respond or pay any attention.
21 She named the boy Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel"-because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 She said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured."
The Ark causes problems for the Philistines so after seven months they send it back to the people of Israel. Although the Ark of the Covenant had been returned to Israel it took the country 20 years to begin to recover.
This brings us to our second name – Ebenezer
Now is the time we begin to see the boy Samuel turn into the man that will lead Israel out of their sin and idolatry and bring them back to the Lord. He leads Israel into a time of repentance and a time of cleansing.
The Philistines attack and Israel is victorious in its defense. Samuel decides to recognize the victory:
1 Samuel 7:12 (NIV)
12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far has the LORD helped us." 13 So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israelite territory again.
Names can end having very significant meanings. A name like Ichabod can mean “The glory of God has departed” or a name like Ebenezer can mean “Thus far the Lord helped us.”
What will your name mean? Does it hold meaning as a curse or as a blessing? Are you know as a place where the glory of the Lord has departed? Or does your name mean “Thus far the Lord helped us”?
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