Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
1 Samuel 4:6-9 (NIV)
Hearing 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, the Philistines were afraid. “A god has come into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. We’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. Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!”
1 Samuel 4:6-9 (MSG)
The Philistines heard the shouting and wondered what on earth was going on: “What’s all this shouting among the Hebrews?” The Philistines panicked: “Their gods have come to their camp! Nothing like this has ever happened before. We’re done for! Who can save us from the clutches of these supergods? These are the same gods who hit the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues out in the wilderness. On your feet, Philistines! Courage! We’re about to become slaves to the Hebrews, just as they have been slaves to us. Show what you’re made of! Fight for your lives!”
“When the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, “What does the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” Then they understood that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp. The Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe [disaster is coming] to us! For nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who will rescue us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, so that you do not become servants to the Hebrews, as they have been servants to you; act like men and fight!” -AMPLIFIED
We will find that though the Israelites were not serving God at this point in time their excitement and joy over the arrival of the Ark of Covenant put the fear of God in the hearts of the Philistines. Scripture tells us that when the Ark arrived in the Israelite camp the shout was so great that the ground shock as if it had been hit by thunderbolts.
We are told that when the Philistines heard the noise coming from the Israelite camp they were overcome with fear. “When the Philistines heard the noise, they wondered what the great shout from the Hebrews’ camp might mean; and when they heard that it was in response to the arrival of the covenant chest of the Eternal, they shook with fear.” -1 Samuel 4:6-7 (VOICE)
The sound from the Israelite camp put the fear of God into the Philistines. Their response was one of immense fear, “The Israelites have brought their God into their camp! We’re doomed! Nothing like this has ever happened to us before! What will we do? What can save us from these powerful gods? These are the same gods who struck down the mighty Egyptians in the desert with every sort of plague.” -1 Samuel 4:7-8 (VOICE)
Once again, God’s reputation had preceded Him. Though the Philistines had the story mixed up, for they kept speaking of powerful “gods”, they realized that it was the Israelite God who had struck down the Egyptians and set the Israelites free who they were now about to face.
The Philistines began to stir each other up; giving one another a pep talk. They pushed one another to “Stand up and be men!” just like the warrior men that they were. They mustered up the courage that comes from desperation. “Be strong, Philistines. Stand tall like men, or you will become the slaves to these Hebrews, instead of their serving us. Be men, and fight!” -1 Samuel 4:9 (VOICE)
“…let us consider THE GREAT MISTAKE which both Israelites and Philistines made. The Israelites, instead of seeing to God himself, went to Shiloh to fetch the ark of the covenant. The ark was the sacred place where God revealed himself in the days when his people truly served him; but it was devoid of power, without the presence of him who dwelt between the cherubim. The Israelites were mistaken, for they shouted long before they were “out of the wood.” Before they had won any victory, the sight of the ark made them boastful and confident. The Philistines fell into an error of a different kind, for they were frightened without any real cause. They said, “God has come into the camp;” whereas God had not come at all. It was only the ark with the cherubim upon it; God was not there. The mistake they made was just this: they mistook the visible for the invisible.” -Charles Spurgeon (Is God in the Camp?)
“Even though they did not understand very much about God, the Philistines recognized the superiority of the God of Israel. Yet, they will not submit to God, but simply determine to fight against Him all the more. If they really believed their gods were greater than the God of Israel was, they should not have been worried. If they believed the God of Israel to be greater than their gods, they should have submitted to Him.”-David Guzik Commentary on the Bible
We, too often, are just like both the Israelites and the Philistines. We know God deserves our obedience and submission; yet we resist Him. The problem is not knowing about God, but failing to submit and obey. Remember what James the brother of Jesus wrote, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that–and shudder.” -James 2:19 (NIV)
Those godless Philistines could teach us a thing or two. As children of the Most High God we need to show more courage. We need to be careful not to give up when things look bad. We need to remember who is on our side and trust the LORD; for the battle is the Lord’s! Submit to God, resist the Devil and He will flee from you!
“Courage and persistence win many a victory, even some victories for evil. Shouldn’t we show the same kind of courage and persistence for the LORD? “ -David Guzik Commentary on the Bible
Lord, I know that I need to be submissive to your will in my life. Help me to not fight against you, but in obedience do your will. Let my life be an example of God at work. Remind me that the battles that I face are not my own, but yours. Help me to trust that you will equip me, strengthen me, and go with me. God, I am yours.