Sunday, June 22, 2014
The Attack of the Philistines (1Samuel 3-5)
"As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything he said
was wise and helpful. All the people of Israel, from one end to the
other, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord.
The Lord continued to give messages to Samuel and Samuel’s
words went out to all the people of Israel.” (1Samuel 3: 19-21)
Remember the Philistines from the story of Samson? They were still at war with the Israelites. During one of the battles four thousand Israelites were killed. When they returned to the camp they began to cry to each other, “How could God let this happen to us! Why didn’t God do something?”
Just the fact that they were crying to each other and not crying out to God showed that their hearts were in the wrong place. We do that sometimes, don’t we? We complain to each other about how things are going. We say things like “Why now?” or “Why me?” and “If only!” God wants a relationship with us. He wants us to come to Him. It’s OK to cry out to God.
Well the Israelites had a great idea. “Let’s carry the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord into battle. We will surely be victorious with it!”
Do you remember the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord? Moses had the people build it as they were wandering in the desert on the way to the promise land. It was like a portable temple that they could carry with them. (Exodus 25:10-31)
They sent for the Ark of the Covenant to be brought into camp. Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas were priests, so they helped carry the Ark of the Covenant into camp and then into battle the next day. The Philistines heard a large cheer coming from the Israelite camp and found out that it was because of the Ark of the Covenant. They became very afraid because they remembered hearing about how God had helped the Israelites at the Red Sea and Jericho when the walls came down. “We must fight harder than we have ever fought before.” The Philistine General shouted as they charged into battle.
God is not a good luck charm. Just because we wear a cross around our neck or have a picture of Jesus hanging on our wall, doesn’t mean that everything is going to work out. As a matter of fact, if we trust in out crosses and pictures, they become idols! Isn’t that unbelievable? A picture of Jesus could be an idol? But it’s true. Some people even put their trust in their prayers instead of the One that they are praying to. God wants us to trust in Him.
During the battle, Eli had put a chair just outside the city gate so he could get the news about the battle a soon as possible. He was very old now and could hardly see. Finally one of the messengers came running from the battle with news.
“What happened?” Eli asked.
The messenger answered. "The Israelites were beaten badly. We lost over thirty thousand men. I’m sorry to tell you this Eli, but your two sons were killed. And on top of it all, the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord!”
When Eli heard this, he threw himself back in his chair. It fell backwards and Eli broke his neck and died. Thus fulfilling what God had told Samuel years earlier.