I. Israel’s Defeat And How They Tried To Fix Things Vs. 1, 2
A. Israel Is Defeated Vs. 1, 2
1. We remember that in this season of Israel’s history, everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes. (Judges 17:6; 21:25)
2. The word of the Lord was rare in those days. God wasn’t speaking because His people didn’t want to listen. (1 Samuel 3:1)
3. Israel initiated a battle against the Philistines, and they lost badly.
B. The Philistines
1. Guzik– Israel could compete militarily with Moab and Ammon, but the Philistines used Grecian military equipment (helmets, shields, coats of mail, swords and spears). Big advantage.
2. The Philistines- Immigrants form the island of Crete, in the Mediterranean Sea.
a. They had a constant influx of people arriving to the land of Canaan.
b. This was a very difficult time for Israel. The Philistines had a constant influx of people, and they had a military advantage through Grecian military equipment.
II. A Carnal Response To Fix A Spiritual Problem Vs. 3-11
A. The Israelites Realized That They Needed God’s Help Vs. 3, 4
1. The problem was that they were not right in their relationship with God, and they were only interested in how He could help them.
2. All Israel knew of the corruption of Eli’s sons regarding their priestly duties.
a. We don’t see an outcry against that corruption.
b. We do see Israel “getting spiritual” when they are threatened by the Philistines.
c. Application-Israel had disobeyed God and were now suffering as a result.
B. A Carnal Solution To Their Spiritual Problem Vs. 3, 4
1. The ark contained the 10 commandments, some manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded.
a. The glory of the Lord would manifest in the presence of a cloud over the ark.
b. The lid of the ark was called the Kawfar, which means “covering”.
c. That same word is translated “atonement” as when God covers our sins.
d. The ark contained the Law of God, which the people had broken, but the Lord met with them (the high Priest) where the cherubim were, where symbolically He covered over their sins because of the sin offerings that they brought to Him.
e. The Israelites treated the Ark like a good luck charm.
f. Eli’s sons were the priests, but Eli was the High Priest.
g. Only Eli would have been allowed to enter the Holy of Holies where the ark was.
h. Hophni and Phinehas broke God’s law by going into the Holy of Holies.
2. V. 5 An emotional, but false security.
a. To listen to the great shout they gave, you would think that they had great faith in the Lord, but it is superstition, and not true faith.
b. Spurgeon– “True faith in God may express itself with leaping and with shouting; and it is a happy thing when it does: but it can also sit still before the Lord, and that perhaps is a happier still.”
3. Vs. 6-9 ¬The pagans believed that every geographical location had a local deity.
a. They believed that YAHWEH had come into the camp of the Israelites.
b. They had heard of what God did for Israel when they were still slaves in Egypt, and that brought fear and respect from the Philistines, but not enough to surrender.
4. Vs. 10, 11 Israel was once again defeated, and things got worse.
a. God did not honor the superstitious efforts of the Israelites, because they had not honored him. In fact, they had despised the Lord for many years.
b. 30k Israelites soldiers died in that battle.
c. Eli & Phinehas died the same day, fulfilling the word of the Lord to Samuel.
d. The Ark of the covenant was captured. That is significant because that was where the Lord would manifest His glory and meet with the High Priest once per year.
e. The reassurance from that meeting was meant to be a blessing to the nation.
f. Now the assurance of God’s presence has been jeopardized, and for the moment, lost.
II. The Judgment Of God Upon Israel Vs. 12-22
A. Israel’s Defeat Is Announced Vs. 12-18
1. Vs. 12-17 A messenger gives Eli the bad news. His sons have been killed; the ark captured
2. V. 18 Eli had a great reaction when he heard that the ark had been captured.
a. Eli knew enough to be concerned about the Ark of God.
b. He knew that his boys should not have taken it, and he knew that the ark wasn’t to be used as an advantage in battle.
c. He also knew what it was meant for, and that that blessing was now jeopardized.
d. Eli did not tremble at the news of his sons dying.
e. He was upset because of the loss of the Ark.
f. Eli is an example of a man who knows the importance of doing the right thing but doesn’t do it.
3. There are people like that today.
a. Christians who know to fear the Lord, but don’t do the right thing.
b. They can counsel others about the dangers of spiritual neglect, but they themselves neglect their responsibilities.
c. In the end, they suffer great loss, and the people around them suffer because of their neglect.
4. May we be people who know what to do, and then depend upon God’s grace.
a. James 4:16, 17 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
5. The Apostle Paul had this same struggle in doing what he knew he should be doing.
a. Ephesians 6:18-20 18praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints– 19and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
6. Even Jesus prayed with regard to doing the Father’s will
a. Matthew 26:38, 39 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” 39He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
B. How Our Sins Can Affect Other People 4:19-22
1. The tragedy of all that happened caused Phinehas’ wife to go into labor prematurely.
2. She gave birth to a son, Ichabod, which means “the glory has departed”.
3. Here we see further evidence of one person’s sin affecting another person.
4. Eli’s failure as a father and a priest, and Phinehas’ sinful life brought forth these tragedies to Israel, which also brought forth the death of Phinehas’ wife.
5. 34,000 Israeli soldiers died because of Eli’s and his sons’ sins. Phinehas’ wife died.
6. Ichabod had to grow up without a mother because of their sins.
7. The place where God manifested His glory was lost because of their sins.
8. The reassurance of God’s presence was lost because of their sins.