Thursday February 1, 2024
Scripture: 1 Samuel 4: And Samuel’s word came to all Israel. Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. 2 The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield. 3 When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.” 4 So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 5 When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. 6 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, 7 the Philistines were afraid. “A god has come into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. 8 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. 9 Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!” 10 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. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
Meditation: It is never enough to hear the word of the Lord; you must act on it and live in accordance with it. Hearing the word of God, yet living in rebellion against it, is tantamount to carrying the ark of the Lord with you into battle and believing that is enough for victory. It is the presence of the Lord manifested in the life of the believer who lives in complete surrender to the will and word of God who will be victorious!
– Hophni and Phinehas wrongly assumed that God would be with them and give them victory because of the ark. Both should have been spiritual leaders in Israel, yet they were instead lustful sinners whose actions revealed contempt, not worship, for the Lord.
– There is too much of that today. Many claim the privileges and authority of God’s presence while living in complete rebellion against the word of the Lord.
– 4:1 tells us, “And Samuel’s word came to all Israel.” But don’t miss it 3: 21 says, “21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.” Of himself, Samuel was nothing but because Samuel heard the word of the Lord, lived in obedience to the word of the Lord, and declared the word of the Lord, his witness was powerful!
– When our talk does not align with our walk, we are living in deception and subsequently under judgment. But those who humble themselves before the word of the Lord will walk in victory and will prove their witness to be authentic by what they do! Not sinless perfection, but sincere devotion pleases the Lord! 2 Chron. 16: 9 For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.