Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
1 Samuel 4:12-13 (NIV)
That same day a Benjamite ran from the battle line and went to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dust on his head. 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.
1 Samuel 4:12-13 (MSG)
Immediately, a Benjaminite raced from the front lines back to Shiloh. Shirt torn and face smeared with dirt, he entered the town. Eli was sitting on his stool beside the road keeping vigil, for he was extremely worried about the Chest of God. When the man ran straight into town to tell the bad news, everyone wept.
“Now a man [from the tribe] of Benjamin ran from the battle line and came to Shiloh that same day with his clothes torn and dust on his head [as signs of mourning over the disaster]. When he arrived, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road, keeping watch, because his heart was anxious about the ark of God. When the man arrived to report [the news] in the city, everyone in the city cried out [to God, for help].” -AMPLIFIED
The news of the terrible loss from the battle was quickly reported by a quick running Benjaminite; who ran from the battle back to Shiloh to report what had happened. He arrived with clothes torn and a dust covered head. Just the sight of his appearance would have quickly told the waiting folks how the battle had turned out. (The sign of torn clothing and dust on the head was a sure sign of mourning.) What they did not know was the full extent of their loss; the Ark had been captured.
Eli was also expectantly waiting for the news. He was sitting on a stool besides the road worrying over the Ark of the Covenant. (He must have had a bad feeling from the very beginning about allowing the Ark to go into battle, but he never did anything about stopping it.) Eli was extremely anxious about the safety of the Ark.
The runner arrived and was quickly surrounded by the waiting crowd. As he told his story everyone who heard it cried out in sorrow. (Remember, they had been trusting in the Ark to give them victory, not the Lord God.) Eli heard the great noise of sorrow and cries for help to the Lord God; he knew something terrible had happened. He cries out to the surrounding crowd, “What has happened? What is going one?” (The author tells us that he was ninety-eight years old by this time and his eyesight was very poor; almost gone.)
The Messenger comes running over to Eli to deliver the news from the battle, “I’ve just come from the front, barely escaping with my life….Israel scattered before the Philistines. The defeat was catastrophic, with enormous losses. Your sons Hophni and Phinehas died, and the Chest of God was taken.” -Message Version
Eli listened to the Messenger’s every word with bated breath, but when the news of the capture of the Ark of God was told Eli’s heart gave out. We are told, “At the words, “Chest of God,” Eli fell backward off his stool where he sat next to the gate. Eli was an old man, and very fat. When he fell, he broke his neck and died. He had led Israel forty years.” -1 Samuel 4:18 (MSG) The Word of the Lord that had been given to Samuel has now been fulfilled.
The horror of the outcome from this battle had a ripple effect through Israel and the house of Eli. Eli’s daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife, was close to giving birth when she heard the horrifying news of her husband’s death, her father-in law’s death and the capture of the Ark. All of this news caused her to go into labor. “When she heard that the Chest of God had been taken and that both her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she went to her knees to give birth, going into hard labor. As she was about to die, her midwife said, “Don’t be afraid. You’ve given birth to a son!” But she gave no sign that she had heard.” -1 Samuel 4:19-20 (MSG)
With her dying breath, Eli’s daughter-in-law named the child Ichabod. She was pronouncing prophetic words of doom upon Israel, “The glory has left Israel, for the ark of God has been taken.” -1 Samuel 4:22 (AMP) Ichabod’s name literally means, “Where is the glory”. God’s glory has departed from the nation of Israel.
The Bible is adamant about the need of walking in obedience to the Lord God. The Holy Spirit points us to the Word. The Word is the truth; that is what Jesus informed His followers. What we do with the truth is entirely up to us; we have our own will. We can choose to obey or to disobey God, but if we desire to have the glory of God with us than we must chose to obey.
God wants us to run the race well. His desire is to see us complete the race and complete it well. In order for us to do so though we must have His help and that is only possible if He is with us. I hope that we never choose to put ourselves in a place where the glory of the Lord has departed from us.
“For who were the people who turned a deaf ear? Weren’t they the very ones Moses led out of Egypt? And who was God provoked with for forty years? Wasn’t it those who turned a deaf ear and ended up corpses in the wilderness? And when he swore that they’d never get where they were going, wasn’t he talking to the ones who turned a deaf ear? They never got there because they never listened, never believed.” -Hebrews 3:17-19 (MSG)
Lord, my desire is to be obedient to you and your Word. I want to be pleasing to you in all I do. I know there are times that I mess up, sin and fail you. I am thankful that you always give me the opportunity to ask forgiveness and make things right. Help me to take your promise seriously and ask forgiveness; never allowing anything to come between us in our relationship. I do not ever want to have the name Ichabod attached to me or our relationship. Keep me close to you, Lord.