Summary: Principles about reconnecting with God’s presence taken from 1 Samuel chapter 4.


We are going to read a fairly long passage of Scripture this morning. But, I felt like it was necessary in order for us to understand the truth of what we’re going to be talking about. And so, if you would, read along with me, either on the screen, or in your notes, or in your own Bible. These verses are taken from the New International Version of the Bible.

1 Samuel 3:19-4:13, 16-22

19 The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD. 21 The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.

Chapter 4

1 And Samuel’s word came to all Israel…

Now, let me stop here and reiterate something that we touched on last week. Back then, if God had a message for His people, He would speak that message to the priest, or to the prophet. And then the priest, or the prophet, would, in turn, relay that message to the people.

In the same way, if someone needed an answer from God on a certain issue, they would go and talk to the priest about it, or to the prophet about it. And He, then, would go and ask God, and then come back and tell that person what God’s answer was. That was just the way God worked back then.

And so, we see that, by this time, everybody knew, if you wanted an answer from God, you went to Samuel. Because that’s who God spoke to. In fact, it says, the entire nation of Israel knew that Samuel was God’s prophet. Keep that in mind.

Let’s continue reading.

1 (cont’d) 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 upon us today before the Philistines?

And so, they said,

3 (cont’d) Let us bring the ark of the LORD’s covenant from Shiloh, so that it 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.

Again, if you weren’t here last week, we talked about Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. And the Bible tells us that they were extremely wicked in God’s eyes because they misused their religious position for personal gain. They used their position as priests to rip people off. They used their position as priests to get women to sleep with them. They weren’t concerned about God. They were only concerned with themselves. And so, God said, because of their wickedness, He was going to kill them. That’s what He said.

Let’s read on.

5 When the ark of the LORD’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook.

Sounds like a great worship service, doesn’t it?

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. "We’re in trouble! Nothing like this has happened before. 8 Woe to us! 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 desert.

But then, someone said,

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;

10 (cont’d) Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

Needless to say, it was a very dark day for Israel.

Verse 12 says,

12 That same day a Benjamite ran from the battle line and went to Shiloh, his clothes torn and dust on his head.

13 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…

16 …Eli asked, "What happened, my son?"

17 The man who brought the news replied, "Israel fled before the Philistines, and the army has suffered heavy losses. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured."

18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair by the side of the gate. His neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man and heavy. He had led Israel forty years.

19 His daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near the time of delivery. When she heard the news that the ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she went into labor and gave birth, but was overcome by her labor pains.

20 As she was dying, the women attending her said, "Don’t despair; you have given birth to a son." But she did not respond or pay any attention.

21 She named the boy Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel"-- because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 She said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured."

Well, this is an encouraging chapter of the Bible, isn’t it? Israel, God’s chosen people lost 34,000 soldiers, plus Eli, their High Priest, plus Eli’s two sons, “Hophni and Phinehas” who were also priests. And to top it all off, they lost God in the process.

Talk about a bad day! This was a bad day! In fact, it was one of the worst days the Israelites had ever seen.

And yet, it was not without warning. For, as we said a minute ago, God had already told Eli and Samuel that Eli’s sons were going to die because of their sins.

But, no one could have imagined it would have been this bad. No one would have ever dreamed that the Ark of the Covenant would have been lost.

You see, to them, the Ark of the Covenant was God. It represented God’s presence. And so, with it gone, God was gone. God had left them. And that provokes Phinehas’ wife to name her son, “Ichabod”, which means, “the glory has departed.” Gee, thanks MOM! Thank you for naming me “The glory has departed..”Thanks for naming me “Ichabod.”

Did you know, that there is no one in the United States named Ichabod? How weird! It’s biblical and everything!

Now, be honest, how many of you, when you first heard me say, “Ichabod,” automatically thought about “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow?” Did you know that name came from the Bible?

Well, this morning, we’re gonna be talking about, “WHAT TO DO WHEN THE GLORY’S GONE.” What to do when the glory of God has departed from your life.

And the first thing you‘ve gotta do, although this might sound a little strange, is, you’ve gotta realize it’s gone.


You see, the people of Israel, even Eli, the priest, didn’t recognize the fact that the glory of God had departed from Israel.

They had gotten so used to living life without Him, that they didn’t even recognize it when He wasn’t there.

Now, you may be thinking, “Well, they did realize it. They knew when the Ark of the Covenant got captured. And that’s why they started grieving.”

But friends, the glory had departed from Israel long before the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines. That’s when it became obvious to them that it was gone. But it had left a long time before that.

You see, the glory had departed Israel when:

• The priests of Israel began to lose their fear of God.

The Bible says that Eli’s sons “had no regard for the Lord.”

1 Samuel 2:12

12 Eli’s sons...had no regard for the LORD. (NIV)

It also says, in chapter 2 verse 17,

1 Samuel 2:17

17 …they were treating the LORD’s offering with contempt. (NIV)

That means that they despised giving the Lord His offering. And yet, they were priests! That was their job. They were the ones God had set aside to do just that. And yet, they hated it.

Which leads us to the next reason the glory had departed Israel. And that is…

• The Priests of Israel began to see the privileges of serving God as a burdens.

God provided for them. But they didn’t like the way He did it. And so, they just did it their own way.

They saw the privilege of serving the Lord as a burden. Rather than thinking of it as an honor to be able to serve Him in His Temple, they saw it as weighing them down, getting in the way of what they would rather be doing.

Friend, is that the way you see the calling of the Lord on your life? Do you see His expectations of you as cumbersome responsibilities? Or as honorable privileges. Does the worship of Him get in the way of what you’d rather be doing? Or is there no place else you’d rather be?

And thirdly, the reason the glory had departed Israel was…

• The priests had lost their concern to please God.

Eli’s sons had no desire whatsoever to please God. It never crossed their mind. Not even for a minute. They were so concerned with doing things for themselves, that they had no time for anything else.

Now, they enjoyed their position. They liked being important. In fact, they used the priesthood for every advantage. But, they didn’t have a regard for what the priesthood was all about. And that was…serving the Lord. Serving the Lord never crossed their mind. They had a job. They did it grudgingly. But, it never crossed their mind, “What would please God?”

I wonder, does it ever cross yours? Do you ever think about pleasing God? About what He wants from you? About what He expects of you? About what He would like from you?

And if so, what are you doing about it?

You see, we are called by God to be priests as well.

Revelation 1:6

6 [Jesus] has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father-- (NIV)

Friends, just as Eli, and his sons were chosen by God to live their lives to serve the Lord, so were you. God has chosen you to be His children. And He has entrusted the Kingdom of God to you. He has given you the charge to spread His message to all people. He has called you to love with His love, free with His freedom, and forgive with His forgiveness.

And His calling is not burdensome. It is life giving. Let us not fall into the same trap as Hophni and Phinehas, thinking that, somehow, God is asking too much of us. We could never do enough to repay Him.

As the old hymn says, “Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe!”

And so, remember that the glory didn’t depart when the Ark was captured. It was gone way before that.

Is the glory gone in your life? If so, I pray that God would open your eyes to see it.

Because you can lose the glory and not realize it.

When the Ark cam into the camp, Israel hollered, they danced, they shouted, they sang, “Our Box is an awesome Box, He reigns…” Not only that, but the Philistines trembled. They thought Israel had God too.

You see, you can fool others. You can even fool yourself. But one person you can’t fool is God. He knows. And eventually, the truth will come out.

But if it’s gone, you need to find out that it’s gone.

Secondly, if the glory is gone in your life…


1 Samuel 4:3a

3 When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, "Why did the LORD bring defeat upon us today before the Philistines?

Notice that the Israelites felt like God was to blame for their defeat.

Just like us. We rarely mess up without it being somebody else’s fault, do we? Immediately, when I do something stupid, I look for a way to blame it on Carrie. Just subconsciously. And that’s what the Israelites did. They blamed their defeat on God.

But, even though the Israelites felt like God had left them, in reality, they had left God.

Now, they didn’t think they had left God. That’s why they went back and got the ark in verse 3.

1 Samuel 4:3b

3 (cont’d) Let us bring the ark of the LORD’s covenant from Shiloh, so that it may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies."

But, you see, what they were wanting was not God, but merely a good luck charm. Notice it says, “…so that IT may go with us and save us…” They didn’t want a God. They wanted something that would bring them luck. And so, as usual, knew where god was if they needed Him…or so they thought.

Friends, do you treat God like some big good luck charm? Do you treat Him like a wishing well? Whenever you need Him to do something for you, you’re right there. But when you don’t need Him for anything huge, you’re nowhere to be found. Is that the way you are? Do you use God when you need Him and ignore the rest of the time?

Let me ask you this. Do you really think God is going to put up with that? Do you really think that the God who made the World would allow Himself to be used by you?

Let me ask it this way. How do you feel when somebody uses you? And you know it? Do you do what they say?

Friends, God is not a pushover. And He’s not a servant. He’s not a genie in a bottle that forever at our service.

In fact, it’s the other way around. We are to be at His every beck and call.

And so, just because you carry a cross around with you, or a Bible, or a something like that, doesn’t mean God’s with you. It doesn’t mean He’s not. But God will not follow you around like a little puppy dog eager to get to the next thing you have for Him to do.

If God’s glory is gone, then you moved. It was the children of Israel that, first, departed from the Lord. And then, the glory of the Lord departed from them.

They left first.


1 Samuel 4:3

3 When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, "Why did the LORD bring defeat upon us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the LORD’s covenant from Shiloh, so that it may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies."

Did you notice that they asked the right question…”Why did this happen?” But, instead of waiting for an answer, they created their own solution. The elders of Israel should have known what their mistake was.

They should have known, since they got routed the first time, this time, they ought to seek the Lord and find out what He tells them to do. Because that is what they did back then. The leaders of Israel, whether it be Moses, Joshua, whoever, before they would go to war, they would ask God if He was with them in the war.

And if He said yes, they went. If He said no, then they didn’t. But they always asked Him first.

Here, however, they didn’t ask Him first. They didn’t even ask Him second. Instead, after failing on their own the first time, they tried something else…on their own. And it failed as well.

Sometimes, it takes multiple failures for us to realize that we can’t handle it on our own. Unfortunately, sometimes, by the time we realize our error, it is too late. The consequences are already taking place.


1 Samuel 7:2-4

2 It was a long time, twenty years in all, that the ark remained at Kiriath Jearim, and all the people of Israel mourned and sought after the LORD. 3 And Samuel said to the whole house of Israel, "If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines." 4 So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only. (NIV)

For Israel, it took 20 years to see the presence of God again. That seems like a long time. And it is. But, when it comes down to it, He is the only one that can restore it. And it is up to Him when it happens. But, we see that when God restored His presence to His people Israel, was when they sought Him with their whole heart. That means, it wasn’t a halfhearted effort. It was an all out pursuit.

And they, first, had to put away their sin.

Are you willing to put away your sin in order to have the presence of God again?

Let’s pray.