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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

2020.04.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 4:12–22

Questions from the Scripture text: Who ran where in what condition (1 Samuel 4:12)? Where was Eli (1 Samuel 4:13)? What was he doing? For what was his heart trembling? What caught Eli’s attention (1 Samuel 4:13-14)? What was Eli’s condition (1 Samuel 4:15)? How does the man identify himself, and what does Eli ask (1 Samuel 4:16)? What four things does the man report in 1 Samuel 4:17? Which of these four causes what reaction from Eli (1 Samuel 4:18)? What happens to him? What had been his physical condition? How long had he judged Israel? Who was about to do what in 1 Samuel 4:19? What three news items put her into labor? What do the women around her say in 1 Samuel 4:20? But what she name her child in response and why (1 Samuel 4:20-21)? Which part of this does the narrative emphasize by restating in the conclusion (1 Samuel 4:22)?
Much occurs here that is devastating, but the departure of the ark most of all. Not so much because of the loss of furniture but because God Himself, Whom they first rejected, is now forsaking them. He and His glory have departed to Ashdod of the Philistines.

If Eli had cared so much about this in his life, as he has learned to do here at his death, perhaps he wouldn’t have been so heavy from the fat that belonged to the Lord from the sacrifices of the people. But, while he scolded his sons (1 Samuel 2:23–25), he did not restrain them (1 Samuel 3:13). Now, he makes a pathetic picture: watching and trembling for the ark of God. His sons are lost—the words of the prophet have assured that. But the ark of God?

And then the news comes. Israel fled, but that’s not the mortally bad bid. There has been a great slaughter. Your two sons are dead. So far, the old priest has cause for grief, but none of these is the trigger of his demise. “Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God” (1 Samuel 4:18)… that was it. The last old man (98, 1 Samuel 4:15) in his family’s history died at this news.

His daughter-in-law reflects the same priorities. She hears about the death of her father-in-law and even the death of her husband. She at first names all three, when giving her new son his sad name (1 Samuel 4:21), but the summary statement in 1 Samuel 4:22 concludes her thoughts and indeed the entire passage, “the ark of God has been captured.”

God made the cherubim on top of that ark the place of the presence of His glory. And now the glory has departed. Ichabod. I wonder if we who read of Eli and Hophni and Phinehas and are tempted to think better of ourselves—do we care so much for the display and presence of the glory of God as Eli and Mrs. Phinehas do? When the news is bad and much is lost, would the news of the loss of God’s worship be the worst to us by far?

God grant that we would desire His glory above all, and God restore and increase unto us the display and presence of that glory!
What’s some bad news that you have received lately? How would the loss of worship compare?
Suggested Songs: ARP42A “As Pants the Deer” or TPH42C “As Thirsts the Hart for Water Brooks”

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