Summary: Principles about reconnecting with God’s presence taken from 1 Samuel chapter 4.
WHAT TO DO WHEN THE GLORY’S GONE
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.
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…