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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: 1 Samuel

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CONTEXT

Part 2: Ch.4-7: The Ark taken and returned & Israel Restored

Ch.4: The Philistines Capture the Ark & Eli Dies

Ch.5: Fun & Games with the Philistines

Ch.6: The Ark Returned to Israel

Ch.7: Restoration of Israel & Removal of Philistines

  

FRAMEWORKS: 1 Samuel 4 : The Philistines Capture the Ark & Eli Dies

 

v.1,2 Israel seek to oust the Philistines from their land and are defeated

v.3,4 Israel take the Ark to battle as a good-luck charm

v.5-11 Israel are defeated and the Ark taken & Eli's sons killed

v.12-18 Eli dies when he hears the news

v.19-22 Ichabod born & named in recognition of Israel's fall

 

 

v.1,2 Israel seek to oust the Philistines from their land and are defeated

 

v.1 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.

v.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.

 

[Notes: Samuel is recognised across the whole of Israel. Meanwhile the Philistines are still oppressing the nation so eventually Israel decide to fight them off – but are defeated!]

 

 

v.3,4 Israel take the Ark to battle as a good-luck charm

 

v.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.”

v.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.

 

[Notes: The returning army are challenged by the elders over their defeat and suggest that the Ark be taken with the army to encourage them. There may also be an element of ‘using' the Lord to get Him to act on their behalf perhaps. What they fail to realise is the serious nature of what they are suggesting because Moses had given such severe instructions to Israel about the Ark that it should never be seen by anyone [see Num 4] other than the chief priest once a year. They are now treating it as a good-luck charm. What is surprising is that the Lord doesn't strike them down at Shiloh but He appears to allow it to go because the two ungodly sons of Eli will have to accompany it [Eli is now too old and infirm to go] and Israel are going to be dealt a severe lesson in what follows.]

 

 

v.5-11 Israel are defeated and the Ark taken & Eli's sons killed

 

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

v.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,

v.7 the Philistines were afraid. “A god has come into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before.

v.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.

v.9 Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!”

v.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.

v.11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

 

[Notes: The Lord will not be manipulated and so does not stand up for Israel who are now severely beaten by the Philistines, the ark taken, and Eli's two sons killed.]

 

 

v.12-18 Eli dies when he hears the news

 

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

v.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. When the man entered the town and told what had happened, the whole town sent up a cry.

v.14 Eli heard the outcry and asked, “What is the meaning of this uproar?”

The man hurried over to Eli,

v.15 who was ninety-eight years old and whose eyes had failed so that he could not see.

v.16 He told Eli, “I have just come from the battle line; I fled from it this very day.”

Eli asked, “What happened, my son?”

v.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.”

v.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 he was heavy. He had led Israel forty years.

 

[Notes: When the news of the defeat is taken to Eli, together with the news of the death of his two sons, he seems to cope with it, but at the news of the Ark being taken,, whether by a heart attack or simply by shock, he falls off his seat and breaks his neck and dies.]

 

 

v.19-22 Ichabod born & named in recognition of Israel's fall

 

v.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.

v.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.

v.21 She named the boy Ichabod, [means no glory or the glory has departed] 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.

v.22 She said, “The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

 

[Notes: The recognition of the awfulness of what has just happened is marked in a strange way. One of Eli's daughters-in-law is expecting a baby and when she hears all the news it is such a shock to her that she goes into labour. It is clearly such a difficult labour that she is dying but with her dying breath she names her son ‘Ichabod' meaning ‘the glory has departed'. She clearly sees the reality and the awfulness of what has happened, clearly the judgment of God who appears to have departed from the nation with the death of the priests and the taking of the Ark which had always been seen as the dwelling place of God in the Tabernacle. Although the glory has gone, His presence is still there in the form of His prophet, Samuel, who has not been involved in any of what has gone one. Possibly he was elsewhere in the Land when the elders sent the Ark off with the army.]

   

    

CONTINUE TO CHAPTER 5