Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
1 Samuel 4:10-11 (NIV)
So 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. The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
1 Samuel 4:10-11 (MSG)
And did they ever fight! It turned into a rout. They thrashed Israel so mercilessly that the Israelite soldiers ran for their lives, leaving behind an incredible thirty thousand dead. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the Chest of God was taken and the two sons of Eli—Hophni and Phinehas—were killed.
“So the Philistines fought; Israel was defeated and every man fled to his tent. It was a very great defeat, for thirty thousand foot soldiers of Israel fell. Also the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were killed.” -AMPLIFIED
We have been following the nation of Israel in the book of 1 Samuel. We read about their great excitement when the Ark of the Covenant came into camp. They felt, upon its arrival, that they were guaranteed a certain victory over their mortal enemies, the Philistines. Sadly, they were gravely wrong.
Let’s remember that the Israelites were at this point servants or slaves of the Philistines; having been conquered by the Philistines. Over time they decided to revolt and in the previous verses we learned that 4,000 Israelite men were killed on the battlefield while fighting against the Philistines in that revolt.
Now, once again, they face the enemy on the battlefield. This time their loss was even worse than the first time; 30,000 men die. And if that was not bad enough, two of their spiritual leaders were killed in this battle. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, became casualties of this battle. (Those who were still followers of God, Most High, would not have been surprised by what happened because Samuel had prophesied of this day coming to pass.)
You could not believe that things could get any worse, but they do. We find that the Philistines not only pummeled the nation of Israel, but they captured the Ark of the Covenant. The very thing that the nation of Israel had been putting their trust in had failed them; for the people did not realize that the presence of the Lord had departed from them.
As we have previously stated, the people of Israel had placed their trust in an object, which is idolatry, instead of the One, True God. The people had put their trust in an object instead of Jehovah. It was King David who penned these words, “See those people polishing their chariots, and those others grooming their horses? But we’re making garlands for God our God. The chariots will rust, those horses pull up lame—and we’ll be on our feet, standing tall.” -Psalm 20:7-8(MSG)
King Solomon also reminds us that we need to put our trust in the Lord God. “Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way].” -Proverbs 3:5-6 (AMP)
As punishment, Israel was soundly defeated that day because they were trusting in something other than the Lord to bring about their victory. At no point did they seek God’s will or direction in this battle. At no point did they even approach Samuel, the prophet in training who had been in communication with the Lord, to ask him to seek God’s direction for them.
“The ark – Which God justly and wisely permitted, to punish the Israelites for their profanation of it; that by taking away the pretenses of their foolish confidence, he might more deeply humble them, and bring them to true – repentance: and that the Philistines might by this means he more effectually convinced of God’s almighty power, and of their own, and the impotency of their gods, and so a stop put to their triumphs and rage against the poor Israelites. Thus as God was no loser by this event, so the Philistines were no gainers by it; and Israel, all things considered, received more good than hurt by it. If Eli had done his duty, and put them from the priesthood, they might have lived, tho’ in disgrace. But now God takes the work into his own hands, and chases them out of the world by the sword of the Philistines.” -Wesley’s Explanatory Notes
What or who are you trusting in? Things cannot save you. Your money will not protect you. Your friends cannot be everywhere at every moment. Your spiritual leaders may fail you. But God, God can save you, protect you, be everywhere and He will never fail you. Trust in the Lord!
“But as for me, I trust [confidently] in You and Your greatness, O Lord;
I said, “You are my God.” -Psalm 31:14 (AMP)
“But I have trusted and relied on and been confident in Your loving-kindness and faithfulness; My heart shall rejoice and delight in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because He has dealt bountifully with me.” -Psalm 13:5-6 (AMP)
Lord, I am trusting in you. You are the ONE who can bring me through every situation. Only you can save me, protect me, always be with me and will never fail me. You, God, are the One who I will confidently trust in and not be afraid. My heart takes joy in knowing that you are the One who I can count on and I will sing your praise at the top of my lungs; for you are my God!