Spiritual Training Samuel 4:1-11

Posted: January 7, 2017 in 1 Sameul, Bible Study, Choices, Uncategorized

Under Gods Command

War with the Philistines

The Philistines Capture the Ark

1 Samuel 4:1-11 1And Samuel’s word came to all Israel.

    Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. 2The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield. 3When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the LORD bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the LORD’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.”

     4So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

     5When the ark of the LORD’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. 6Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?”

    When they learned that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp, 7the Philistines were afraid. “A god has come into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. 8We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. 9Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!”

     10So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

The Philistines, descendants of Noah’s son Ham, settled along the southeastern Mediterranean coast between Egypt and Gaza. They were originally one of the “Sea Peoples” who had migrated to the Middle East in ships from Greece and Crete. By Samuel’s time, these warlike people were well established in five of Gaza’s cities in southwest Canaan and were constantly pressing inland against the Israelites. Throughout this time, the Philistines were Israel’s major enemy.

The ark of the covenant contained the Ten Commandments given by God to Moses. The ark was supposed to be kept in the Most Holy Place, a sacred part of the tabernacle that only the high priest could enter once a year. Hophni and Phinehas desecrated the room by unlawfully entering it and removing the ark.

The Israelites rightly recognized the great holiness of the ark, but they thought that the ark itself—the wood and metal box—was their source of power. They began to use it as a good luck charm, expecting it to protect them from their enemies. A symbol of God does not guarantee his presence and power. Their attitude toward the ark came perilously close to idol worship. When the ark was captured by their enemies, they thought that Israel’s glory was gone (4:19-22) and that God had deserted them (7:1-2). God uses his power according to his own wisdom and will. He responds to the faith of those who seek him. 4:4 The “ark of the covenant of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim” conveys that God’s presence rested on the ark of the covenant between the two golden cherubim (or angels) attached to its lid. The people believed that the ark would bring victory when Hophni and Phinehas carried it into battle. 4:5-8 The Philistines were afraid because they remembered stories about God’s intervention for Israel when they left Egypt. But Israel had turned away from God and was clinging to only a form of godliness, a symbol of former victories.

This event fulfills the prophecy in 2:34 stating that Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, would die “on the same day.”

Lets Bring it Home:  People (and churches) often try to live on the memories of God’s blessings. The Israelites wrongly assumed that because God had given them victory in the past, he would do it again, even though they had strayed far from him. Today, as in Bible times, spiritual victories come through a continually renewed relationship with God. Don’t live off the past. Keep your relationship with God new and fresh.S

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