God’s Judgment — Israel is defeated, Eli & his sons die, & the ark is lost.
Reading 1: 1 Samuel 2:22-36
Reading 2: 1 Samuel 4
Reading 3: 1 Kings 2:26-27
Today we read of the terrible consequences of turning away from God, and even of allowing defeat and resignation into our hearts. In one day, the Ark of the Covenant is captured by God’s enemies, both Eli’s sons are killed in battle as prophesied, Eli himself dies when news of the terrible defeat reaches Shiloh, and his daughter-in-law dies in childbirth, after naming her son Ichabod (meaning “the glory has departed”). Truly this was a dark day in Israel’s history.
Our first reading shows us that Eli’s sons were even more ungodly than has been previously stated. Seducing the young women who came to assist at the Tabernacle shows that they regarded their positions as priests as a right, not a gift. And they were corrupted by their position, as so many other powerful men have been. The second reading shows human presumption at its worst: the Israelites treat the Ark of the Covenant (the physical symbol of God’s presence) as a kind of lucky charm. They think they can use God for their own ends. Notice that none of their actions came from God’s instructions, indeed their actions were in direct contravention of God’s laws. And the ungodly Philistines recognize the significance of the Ark perhaps more than the Israelites!
So the downfall occurs, and the consequences were severe, yet we still see signs of hope, such as in chapter 4 verse 1: “Samuel’s words went out to all the people of Israel.” When God cleans house, He has always prepared the next light to shine in the darkness. We are not in control of the timing, but we can be confident that God will bring restoration and revival again – that is His plan, His heart, and His business!
Have a great day!