1 Samuel part 4 4-7

 

Tonight we will examine 1 Sam 4 Ė 7. In these chapters we will see the prophecies made in chapter 2 and 3 start coming to pass. You might recall from last week that the messenger from God told Eli that an enemy would come in and his 2 sons would die in one day. Well, as we start at in chapter 4 we learn that the Philistines and children of Israel are about to go to battle. As you can see on the map the Philistines set up camp at aphek (a-fek) and the children of Israel next to Ebenezer located somewhere in this vicinity on the map. Well the battle begins and the children of Israel lose about 4000 men and they canít figure out why God isnít helping them so then they decide to pull out their big weapon the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh. Now Eliís 2 sons with the ark. Notice what happens when the ark is brought into the camp.

 

1 Samuel 4:5 And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook.6 Now when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, "What does the sound of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?" Then they understood that the ark of the LORD had come into the camp.

 

Now the children of Israel were getting pumped up because they thought for sure that having the ark of the covenant there would make them victorious.

 

1 Samuel 4:7 So the Philistines were afraid, for they said, "God has come into the camp!" And they said, "Woe to us! For such a thing has never happened before.8 "Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.

 

We learn here that these men had heard the stories about God and how powerful he was and they thought for sure they would be doomed. You will notice they referred to our God as several Gods. This just shows us that in their own Pagan religion they believed in multiple Gods.

 

1 Samuel 4:9 "Be strong and conduct yourselves like men, you Philistines, that you do not become servants of the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Conduct yourselves like men, and fight!"10 So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent. There was a very great slaughter, and there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers.11 Also the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died. †††

 

One of their men spoke out and motivated the Philistines to fight and die instead of becoming slaves to the Hebrews. This was all it took and this great battle raged on with 30,000 Jews dieing along with Eliís 2 sons and now the Philistines had taken the ark of the covenant as a trophy for the victory. Notice what happens next:

 

 

1 Samuel 4:12- Then a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line the same day, and came to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dirt on his head.13 Now when he came, there was Eli, sitting on a seat by the wayside watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told it, all the city cried out.14 When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he said, "What does the sound of this tumult mean?" And the man came quickly and told Eli.15 Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were so dim that he could not see.16 Then the man said to Eli, "I am he who came from the battle. And I fled today from the battle line." And he said, "What happened, my son?"17 So the messenger answered and said, "Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been a great slaughter among the people. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead; and the ark of God has been captured."18 Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.

 

Now it would seem strange today if a person came running to you with torn clothes and dirt on their head but back then this was common practice when some was mourning a great loss. We see that Eli was very old 98 to be exact and that his eye sight wasnít what it used to be. We can see that Eli was very concerned about the ark and when these man told him that the ark had been taken this caused Eli to fall backwards and break his neck we also learn that he was a very heavy man. It also interesting to me that he wasnít to worried about his 2 corrupt sons. So ends Eli reign as a priest and a Judge.

 

1 Samuel 4:19 Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas' wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and gave birth, for her labor pains came upon her.20 And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, "Do not fear, for you have borne a son." But she did not answer, nor did she regard it.21 Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel!" because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.22 And she said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured."

 

As you can tell from text so far that the children of Israel greatly valued the ark and it caused many strong reaction when they found out it had been captured. It was almost like God himself was stripped away from them. As one writer said the children of Israel were putting to much emphasis and faith in the ark itself instead of God. The lesson they needed to learn from this was that just because they had the Ark of the Covenant did not mean that they had God on their side. Because of the corruption in Eliís household God was not with them.

 

Now in chapter 5 we learn that Philistines find out really quick that taking the Ark was not a good idea. They take the ark from Ebenezer to Ashdod. As a way of trying to show that there God was greater than the Hebrew God they set the ark right next to the idol of Dagon (day-gun). Now Dagon was considered the father of Baal and they considered him a grain and fertility God. The next morning when they came to worship their God they found that he had fallen over so they stood him back up. But they didnít get the hint that God was causing this to happen. So the next morning when they came in to see Dagon this time his head and his hand were broken off. Instead of taking the hint they made this place a holy place where they would never step foot again. But God wasnít finished with them yet.

 

1 Samuel 5:6 But the hand of the LORD was heavy on the people of Ashdod, and He ravaged them and struck them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory.7 And when the men of Ashdod saw how it was, they said, "The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is harsh toward us and Dagon our god."

 

You see they are starting to figure out that keeping the ark was not a good idea. So what do they do? They get together and decide to send the ark to one of their other cities. So the send it to Gath. Well they have the same results and God causes great destruction there and so they send it to Ekron. Now the people of Ekron didnít want the ark because they knew that it brought nothing but pain or death so they decided it was time send the ark back the children of Israel. Now lets pick up our story in Chapter 6.

 

1 Samuel 6:1 Now the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months.2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, "What shall we do with the ark of the LORD? Tell us how we should send it to its place."3 So they said, "If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but by all means return it to Him with a trespass offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why His hand is not removed from you."4 Then they said, "What is the trespass offering which we shall return to Him?" They answered, "Five golden tumors and five golden rats, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines. For the same plague was on all of you and on your lords.5 "Therefore you shall make images of your tumors and images of your rats that ravage the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps He will lighten His hand from you, from your gods, and from your land.6 "Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He did mighty things among them, did they not let the people go, that they might depart?

 

We learn that the Philistines had the ark 7 months which probably seemed like a really long time since they were suffering during this time and so they ask their priest who took care of their God Dagon and these diviners who were their magicians. They could supposedly look into the future by shaking arrows, examine a liver or other entrails of animals. They tell them not to send the ark back without an offering. Notice the quantity of things they would send were in 5ís. This was because God plague had affected the 5 cities of Philistia. We also see again that they were very familiar with what happened to the Egyptians when they were stubborn and went against the Hebrew God. Now notice their solution for getting the ark back to the children of Israel.

 

 

1 Samuel 6:7 "Now therefore, make a new cart, take two milk cows which have never been yoked, and hitch the cows to the cart; and take their calves home, away from them.8 "Then take the ark of the LORD and set it on the cart; and put the articles of gold which you are returning to Him as a trespass offering in a chest by its side. Then send it away, and let it go.9 "And watch: if it goes up the road to its own territory, to Beth Shemesh, then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we shall know that it is not His hand that struck us -- it happened to us by chance."10 Then the men did so; they took two milk cows and hitched them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home.11 And they set the ark of the LORD on the cart, and the chest with the gold rats and the images of their tumors.12 Then the cows headed straight for the road to Beth Shemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right hand or the left. And the lords of the Philistines went after them to the border of Beth Shemesh.

 

Now this is interesting because this was going to be a test to see if God was causing these problems or if was just coincidence. Now we can certainly tell from this test that God had a hand in proving that he was the one causing this plague. If you know anything about cows you will not that the mother will do everything it can to get back to its calf. Second thing is that cow who has never had a harness on it would not pull a cart in straight line especially for somewhere around 17 miles it correct direction yet that is exactly what happened which proved that God was punishing the Philistines. Now the ark enters into Beth Shemesh and where the people were reaping their grain harvest. When the saw the ark they rejoiced and the Levites there broke up the cart and killed the cows and offered up burnt sacrifices to God. But nothing something bad happens.

 

1 Samuel 6:19 Then He struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck fifty thousand and seventy men of the people, and the people lamented because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter.20 And the men of Beth Shemesh said, "Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? And to whom shall it go up from us?"21 So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath Jearim, (jee-uh-rim) saying, "The Philistines have brought back the ark of the LORD; come down and take it up with you."

 

Well you have heard the expression curiosity killed the cat well we see that some of these menís curiosity of the ark killed many of them that day. We can see from the book Numbers that God made it clear that men would die if they looked into the uncovered ark.

 

Numbers 4:17 Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying:18 "Do not cut off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites;19 "but do this in regard to them, that they may live and not die when they approach the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in and appoint each of them to his service and his task.20 "But they shall not go in to watch while the holy things are being covered, lest they die."

 

We see from out story that 70 men died from this. Now you also see that it say that 50,000 were struck down to but some the manuscripts do not contain this number so it could of killed this many or maybe it was just the 70 but in either case the important point is that looking into the ark would cause death because it was forbidden by God. Now they want the ark out of there midst.

 

1 Samuel 7:1 Then the men of Kirjath Jearim (jee-uh-rim) came and took the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and consecrated Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD. 2 So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years. And all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.

 

So the ark finally made its way back to where it belonged. Now it was time for the children of Israel to make themselves right with God and Samuel was going to be their guide as we read in.

 

1 Samuel 7:3 Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, "If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines." So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.

 

Once again we see that the children of Israel kept having this problem of embracing the useless idols. This God called Ashtoreths was considered a fertility God. Samuel lets them know that if they will put these useless idols and serve God only then he will be on their side. Now today we might think its funny how these people would worship wooden idols but sometimes Christianís worship idols today just in a different form.

 

Colossians 3:5 Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.

 

You see covetousness is considered idolatry. So when we start allowing material things or the pleasures of this word to keep from serving God or worshiping him then we are guilty of falling and serving an idol just these Philistines who bowed down to Dagon or like the children of Israel when they bowed down to the golden calf. Let us be careful as Christians not to allow a hobby or material things to keep usfrom assembling with the saints. We also see from our text that the children of Israel truly repented because they put away their idols. True repentance means we cease the sinful thing that we are doing. Without true repentance a person cannot receive forgiveness from God.

 

1 Samuel 7:5 And Samuel said, "Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the LORD for you."6 So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured it out before the LORD. And they fasted that day, and said there, "We have sinned against the LORD." And Samuel judged the children of Israel at Mizpah.

 

Do you how serious they took there repentance and how they confessed to God that they were sinners. We should learn from them and take our repentance very serious and to let it really sink in that we did sin against God and let us do our best not to repeat that same sin.

 

1 Samuel 7: 7 Now when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel had gathered together at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines.8 So the children of Israel said to Samuel, "Do not cease to cry out to the LORD our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines."9 And Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. Then Samuel cried out to the LORD for Israel, and the LORD answered him.10 Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the LORD thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel.11 And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and drove them back as far as below Beth Car.12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the LORD has helped us."13 So the Philistines were subdued, and they did not come anymore into the territory of Israel. And the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.14 Then the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered its territory from the hands of the Philistines. Also there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.15 And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.16 He went from year to year on a circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, and judged Israel in all those places.17 But he always returned to Ramah, for his home was there. There he judged Israel, and there he built an altar to the LORD.

 

Now at first the children of Israel were afraid and after Samuel prayed for them we see that God confused the Philistines making it possible for the children of Israel to defeat them and drive them away and reclaim some of the cities that belonged to the children of Israel. Since God was on there side they were victorious and even lived in peace with their enemies.

 

Proverbs 16:7 When a man's ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.