Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 1:9-4:11
Ok, I have to admit I feel like I keep misleading my readers. Earlier I said Joshua was a favorite book. Then when we got to Judges, I said that was my favorite history book. Now today, after having read today’s reading I am going to sat that this is my favorite book. It is a book so rich of stories and lessons. Just in today’s daily reading, there are several possible posts.
Last year I wrote about Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas and their wickedness in the temple of God, especially as it related to the offerings of God. The post was entitled Contempt for God’s Offerings.
Just like last year’s post on the 9th of April, today’s post is about people who put the wrong things in front of God himself. Hophni and Phinehas put themselves first, in today’s story people put objects first, before the Lord himself.
During these days, Israel was at war with the Philistines. They were in conflict for many years, having never completely driven them off the land like they had been told to do. We learn that they lost a critical battle:
1 Samuel 4:1 – 3a NLT
At that time Israel was at war with the Philistines. The Israelite army was camped near Ebenezer, and the Philistines were at Aphek. 2 The Philistines attacked and defeated the army of Israel, killing 4,000 men. 3 After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?”
Israel has lost battles before. Remember when they lost at the first battle of Ai. the wise thing for Israel to do is to enquire of the Lord, “Why did this happen?” or “What do we need to do to be successful the next time?”
In Joshua 7 when the news of the defeat of Israel’s army is reported, Joshua and the other leaders immediately fall before the Lord and ask what they should do. They immediately speak to the Lord. Ultimately, we find out that Achen’s sin was the cause and Joshua goes about to resolve the issue according to God’s plan. They then go and defeat Ai the following day. My post A Cycle of Sin retells this story.
Again today the Israelites are defeated, but this time the response of the leaders is different than with Joshua. Today the leaders fail to go to God to ask what was wrong. Today they fail to look into themselves for their own sin. Today they look into themselves for what they believe is their intellectual solution.
1 Samuel 4:3b – 4 NLT
Then they said, “Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it will save us from our enemies.”
4 So they sent men to Shiloh to bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who is enthroned between the cherubim. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, were also there with the Ark of the Covenant of God.
Instead of turning to God, the people turned to Eli’s wicked sons and the Ark of the Covenant. Instead of asking God what they had done wrong or what sin they needed to purge they turned to their own plans.
They made a bad decision and they made things worse. They took things into their own hands.
1 Samuel 4:10 – 11 NLT
10 So the Philistines fought desperately, and Israel was defeated again. The slaughter was great; 30,000 Israelite soldiers died that day. The survivors turned and fled to their tents. 11 The Ark of God was captured, and Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were killed.
So often we can take our problems into our own hands. We can try to figure things out without putting them to the Lord first. Why don’t we turn to God for our problems first? Why don’t we enquire of him as to what is the best path? Why do we put our faith into men who are away from God? Why do we put our faith into objects of worship and not God himself? Why do we put the ways and means of man before the ways and means of God?
Photo Credit: By donielle