GOD DISTANCES FROM EVIL
Almighty God, above time and yet with me in the passing of time, I want to do all things on your timing.
Read 1 Samuel 4:12–22
Death of Eli
12 That same day a Benjamite ran from the battle line and went to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dust on his head. 13 When he arrived, there was Eli sitting on his chair by the side of the road, watching, because his heart feared for the ark of God. When the man entered the town and told what had happened, the whole town sent up a cry.
14 Eli heard the outcry and asked, “What is the meaning of this uproar?”
The man hurried over to Eli, 15 who was ninety-eight years old and whose eyes had failed so that he could not see. 16 He told Eli, “I have just come from the battle line; I fled from it this very day.”
Eli asked, “What happened, my son?”
17 The man who brought the news replied, “Israel fled before the Philistines, and the army has suffered heavy losses. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.”
18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and he was heavy. He had led[a] Israel forty years.
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,[b] 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.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectPause to briefly imagine what life would be like without God being present. Then, with a sigh of relief, turn to him!
The prophetic word to Eli at the end of chapter 2 must have hung over Eli as he sat by the roadside, waiting for news of the battle (v 13). He may have protested when the ark of the covenant was removed from Shiloh to the battlefield. He would know that parading the ark around as a lucky mascot is no way to treat the symbol of God’s presence.
This prophetic word was fulfilled (2:34). Eli’s sadly named grandson, Ichabod, was wrongfully named (v 21). The ark of the covenant had indeed been captured but… hang on, what was Samuel doing while all this was going on? The Lord was continuing to reveal himself to Samuel (3:21), who had no public role in this Godless period of Israel’s history. God had distanced himself from Israel’s religious and military leadership, having nothing to do with the activities of Hophni and Phinehas. But the glory of the Lord had not departed. A new era was approaching. Even in death, there is the symbol of hope in a newborn child, albeit an orphaned one.
We may despair at disasters in the world, poor quality leadership, injustice and instability no one can avoid. But we live in the hope of a new era, and ultimately the coming of Christ as King to reign.
Be still for the glory of the Lord is shining all around!*
Holy One, I am reminded today that you are in control. Even in the darkest days your light will shine through. Thank you for that glorious hope.
*David Evans © 1986 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music, admin. EMI Christian Music Publishing
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