A Departed Glory, God’s Judgment
Book of 1 Samuel Chapters 4-6
The theme of this passage is found in Chapter 4:21:
1Sa 4:21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, [The glory is departed from Israel]: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband.
That name Ichabod in translation actually ask a question which is "Where is the glory of God?"
And this question is answered by saying "The glory of God is departed out of Israel"!
When we left off last week Samuel was in the presence of the Lord, Samuel was God’s Seer or God’s Prophet.
We should also keep this verse in mind:
Heb 1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers "by the prophets",
Heb 1:2 Hath in these last days "spoken unto us by his Son", whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
We must never make the mistake of thinking that just because some time has passed that God has forgotten His Word or His Promises!
God will do everything He says He will do BUT in His own "appointed time"!
*****1Sa 4:1 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Ebenezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek.
Israel clearly understood that Samuel was God’s man in this day, yet we see that Israel went into battle without even consulting with Him.
It had been 40 years since Samson had brought down a house of Dagon, the false god of the Philistines, upon their heads but they consistently wanted to rule over Israel and still do even unto this day.
Here again we see them gather in a place called Aphek. This Aphek was north east of Jerusalem with Shiloh being more north of Jerusalem.
It was Samuel who set up a stone to mark this place called called "Ebenezer" but this was not it’s name on the day of this battle but this will give us the location of this placed that is later called Ebenezer.
This also gives us the assurance that it was Samuel that wrote this part of the Books called Samuel.
This stone was actually set up and that name given on a later date. (Note 1 Samuel 7:12)
1Sa 7:12 Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.
The Lord did not help them on this day of Eli’s judgment!
*****1Sa 4:2 And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men.
Who were the Philistines which actually means "immigrants"?
The Bible teaches us that Noah had three sons. One son named Ham had a son named Mizraim and he then had many sons one being named Casluhim.
The Bible says out of this man began the Philistines:
Gen 10:14 And Pathrusim, and Casluhim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim.
The Bible goes on to say that the Philistines come from the country of Caphtor:
Jer 47:4 Because of the day that cometh to spoil all the Philistines, and to cut off from Tyrus and Zidon every helper that remaineth: for the LORD will spoil the Philistines, "the remnant of the country of Caphtor".
Caphtor in all probability was the island of Crete or at least a part of it because the Bible also calls the Philistines by the name of Cherethites which would be Cretes though some do argue against this.
Zep 2:5 Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites! the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant.
What is known is that this group of people overcame the Hittite Empire and after this they attacked Egypt whom they could not over come and then settled in the five cities of Canaan Land and occupied the coastal plain.
It was the fact that these Philistines had learned how to work with "iron" earlier than many others, that gave them some advantage in war. Most other nations were still working with "brass".
The Israelites encountered the Philistines in Canaan and they have been the most treacherous of the enemies of Israel throughout the entire Bible.
The Philistines are mentioned nearly 150 times in the Bible and because of them the area of Israel, Judah, Edom, Phoenica and Lebanon have been called Palestine. Palestine is a designated area and has never been a nation as such in all history.
The Philistines have always been "immigrants" trying to steal the land in Palestine and still do!
They now call themselves "Palestinians" in hope the world will associate them as owners of that land, "which they are not", and most of the world has succumbed to this falsehood!
They still have their warlike ways, "always" refusing to live in peace and history has also proven this to be true!
They are still the biggest enemies of Israel and God promises a final judgment upon them.
But, on this day they slew 4000 Hebrew soldiers!
*****1Sa 4:3 And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.
1Sa 4:4 So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
1Sa 4:5 And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again.
The Ark of the Covenant was a chest made of acacia wood. It measured 2 1/2 cubits long by 2 1/2 cubits wide and 1 1/2 cubits high.
It was covered with gold inside and out. It had an ornamental molding of gold that ran like a crown around it.
It had gold rings in which golden stays were placed so that it could be properly carried by those appointed to do so by God, which could only be priests that were assigned in the Laws of Moses.
There was also a lid placed on top of the Ark that was called the Mercy Seat.
The elders of Israel wrongly assumed that God would be present with them if they brought the Ark of the covenant from Shiloh!
When Hophni and Phinehas appeared in the camp carrying the Ark it brought shouts of joy.
BUT, The presence of the Ark did not mean that the Lord was with them!
God cannot be carried place to place!
In fact God says:
Pro 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.
And the presence of the Ark did not guarantee any military victory!
AND, It would be well to remember that after nearly 400 years these Philistines were still aware of how God had delivered Israel from Egypt.
And we can also see that these elders of Israel totally understood that defeat would certainly come if the Lord was not with them.
The pure fact is that "The Hand Of God Cannot Be Manipulated!
God had promised judgment and judgment would still come!
*****1Sa 4:10 And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen.
The Philistines looked upon the Ark as no more than "an idol" as those they had of their false god Dagon!
The children of Israel looked on the Ark as "an object", the seat of mercy that God set upon!
Job can give us some wisdom here:
Job 20:5 That the triumphing of the wicked is short, and the joy of the hypocrite but for a moment?
And the Bible teaches us of God’s judgment:
Psa 78:60 So that he forsook the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which he placed among men;
Psa 78:61 And delivered his strength into captivity, and his glory into the enemy’s hand.
Psa 78:62 He gave his people over also unto the sword; and was wroth with his inheritance.
Psa 78:63 The fire consumed their young men; and their maidens were not given to marriage.
Psa 78:64 Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows made no lamentation.
And, 30,000 Hebrew soldiers were killed that day because Israel had abandoned Jehovah God!
*****1Sa 4:11 And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.
1Sa 4:12 And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head.
Never in the history of Israel had the Ark of God ever fallen into enemy hands.
So holy was the Ark that it was kept behind the Veil in the Tabernacle and seen only by the High Priest and only on one day a year, "the day of atonement".
When the Jews moved during their 40 years of wandering, the first thing the High Priest did was to cover the Ark with the Veil and only then could he attend to the other pieces of furniture.
The Ark was the throne of God but now God’s throne was in enemy territory!
Now, It was not a sin to take the Ark into the battle "if the people were truly devoted to the Lord".
But the Ark of God was not some good luck charm!
So now God would use the Ark to teach both the Jews and the Philistines some important lessons!
And God fulfilled the Words He had spoken to Samuel.
So Samuel also would learn some valuable lessons here!
*****1Sa 4:17 And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.
Eli’s whole world was bound up in the outcome of the battle!
His two sons were involved in the fighting. His two sons were evil but he still had their father’s love.
Over 30,000 of Israel’s young men were also risking their lives, but to Eli the most important thing was the Ark and its safety.
To much to many of Israel’s leaders the Ark was just "a religious object" that might have psychological and magical powers!
Eli was very old at this time but he had devoted his entire life to the service of the Lord, and the Ark symbolized the presence of the Lord and its loss was more than the old man could stand!
*****1Sa 4:18 And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.
Eli was 98 years old and nearly blind and this news upset him so much that he fell over and the weight of his body caused his neck to break as it struck the side of that gate and Eli died.
This was the end of an era in the nation of Israel!
This death symbolized the transition from the days of judges to the days of kings was about to take place.
Eli had governed Israel both as a high priest and a judge.
Our lesson here is obvious, when we place our faith in "the rituals of religion" we find that we may have a form of godliness but we do not and cannot have the true power of God, which is by Faith!
The Bible describes these things that we see today:
2Ti 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2Ti 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
2Ti 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
2Ti 3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
2Ti 3:5 "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof": from such turn away.
These things describe how it was in Israel at this time of Eli.
Now Israel will begin a transition to a king.
Our lesson here is that we all must also make that transition to King Jesus!
*****1Sa 5:1 And the Philistines took the ark of God, and brought it from Ebenezer unto Ashdod.
1Sa 5:2 When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon, and set it by Dagon.
Ashdod was the most central city of the 5 cities of the Philistines and the closest to the place called Ebenezer.
At Ashdod was a well known House of Dagon!
Dagon was the chief false god of the Philistines and they had worshipped him from their seafaring days. At some time he had been considered the fish god but was now represented as a half man and half fish.
It was their religious belief that all life began in the waters!
They believed that the Earth was flat and floating on the life giving waters of the seas.
We can see how this false religion has become what we now call evolution and that life began in a primeval soup.
Dagon to them was the father of Baal, who was also the chief of the false gods of the Canaanites.
They believed it was Dagon that supplied fish for food but was also the provider of their grain. Many scholars today even say that Dagon was the false god of grain.
All of these pagan false deities were essentially nature gods that represented the natural forces which they believed had produced all things while rejecting the God of Israel, Jehovah.
*****1Sa 5:3 And when they of Ashdod arose early on the morrow, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. And they took Dagon, and set him in his place again.
This day these Philistine had no idea what had happened to Dagon but the picture we get here is a false deity lying prostrate before the Lord in humility, subject to Him, giving adoration to Him.
This was a look of superior power to the Lord to all those that trusted in Dagon.
*****1Sa 5:4 And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him.
This time the Lord got their attention. By removing the head of Dagon the Lord was showing these Philistine that Dagon had no wisdom that was recognized by the Lord and we know that:
Pro 21:30 There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD.
And by removing the hands of this false deity, the Lord was showing these Philistine that this idol of false worship had no strength and no power to defend it self against the Lord.
This is picture of man’s righteousness that simply cannot stand up to the righteousness of our Holy God!
Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
*****1Sa 5:5 Therefore neither the priests of Dagon, nor any that come into Dagon’s house, tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod unto this day.
In other words these actions of the Lord completely shut down this false house of worship!
But instead of accepting that their false god was defeated these people wanted to send the Ark back to Israel.
1Sa 5:7 And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: "for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god."
*****1Sa 5:11 So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, Send away the ark of the God of Israel, "and let it go again to his own place", that it slay us not, and our people: for there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.
The entire government of the Philistine got involved in removing the Ark from their land. This also shows us that these Philistine knew they did not actually own the land of Israel, it belonged to the God of Israel.
But, the Ark never made it back to Shiloh where the Tabernacle had been located.
God did not need any army to destroy these people and "the Hand of God was everywhere"!
1Pe 5:6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
There is no power on Earth that can stand against the Mighty Hand Of God!
There was destruction in all the land of the Philistine and you would think they would learn this lesson but as we know history repeats itself over and over because we simply do not learn from our mistakes.
"There is pleasure in sin for a season" and Satan will give us thoughts of that pleasure but we never remember the results of our sin and the pain that comes from it.
Shame, Shame, Shame on us all!
*****1Sa 6:1 And the ark of the LORD was in the country of the Philistines seven months.
AND, these people experienced 7 months of misery and pain!
*****1Sa 6:2 And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, What shall we do to the ark of the LORD? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place.
Dagon could not stand up to the Ark of God.
The land of the Philistine was being destroyed before their eyes.
Pharaoh of Egypt had also been this foolish.
But what do we see they place their trust in, false priests and divination!
Deu 18:9 When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.
Deu 18:10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
Deu 18:11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
Deu 18:12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
There is no abomination that can stand before the Lord!
*****1Sa 6:5 Wherefore ye shall make images of your emerods, and images of your mice that mar the land; and ye shall give glory unto the God of Israel: peradventure he will lighten his hand from off you, and from off your gods, and from off your land.
1Sa 6:6 Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?
All of a sudden the Philistines decide they better show the proper respect for the God of Israel.
They remembered the stories of Israel’s escape from Egypt and they now believed them.
They realized that they would receive no mercy but they already had, "because God was teaching at this time" and not judging them.
They realized that they could not force God to lift His chastisement. They realized they were dealing with something much more powerful than their false god Dagon.
THESE ARE LESSONS WE ALL HAVE TO LEARN!
These people had a complete change in attitude!
They realized that the Ark of God needed to go back to Israel and they devised a plan not only to remove the Ark from their lands but also to test the God of Israel.
They made a brand new and unused cart.
*****1Sa 6:7 Now therefore make a new cart, and take two milch kine, on which there hath come no yoke, and tie the kine to the cart, and bring their calves home from them:
1Sa 6:8 And take the ark of the LORD, and lay it upon the cart; and put the jewels of gold, which ye return him for a trespass offering, in a coffer by the side thereof; and send it away, that it may go.
1Sa 6:9 And see, if it goeth up by the way of his own coast to Bethshemesh, then he hath done us this great evil: but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that smote us: it was a chance that happened to us.
1Sa 6:10 And the men did so; and took two milch kine, and tied them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home:
1Sa 6:11 And they laid the ark of the LORD upon the cart, and the coffer with the mice of gold and the images of their emerods.
They took this new cart and tied two milch cows to the cart. Those jewels of gold were the five golden mice and the five tumors which are called "emerods".
This is the word from which we get our word hemorrhoids or sometimes called "piles".
Now there was nothing special about these cows except they had just had calves and would normally be kept for milkers after that. They were just ordinary cows!
These were cows that had had their first calves. They had never pulled a cart or even been trained to the yoke. No one could tell just exactly what direction they would go. They were still giving milk to their calves and would want to return to them, here again the Philistine were testing God.
These people may not have known God but those cows certainly did!
The Bible says:
Isa 1:3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.
You see these cows did not go running for their calves and they did not just stand still.
*****1Sa 6:12 And the kine took the straight way to the way of Bethshemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left; and the lords of the Philistines went after them unto the border of Bethshemesh.
These cows were separated from their calves so they did keep up a perpetual lowing. Lowing is described as the cries of cattle. But in spite of all these things they headed straight to Bethshemesh.
This was the first town in the territory of Israel. It was in a valley known well for it’s wheat fields and about 7 miles from the Philistine city of Ekron.
Bethshemesh was also a city set aside for the priest of Israel:
Jos 21:13 Thus they gave to the children of Aaron the priest Hebron with her suburbs, to be a city of refuge for the slayer; and Libnah with her suburbs,
Jos 21:16 And Ain with her suburbs, and Juttah with her suburbs, and Bethshemesh with her suburbs; nine cities out of those two tribes.
These Philistine were humbled by what they had just witnessed!
God showed these Philistine that He could do things that their false god Dagon could never do.
It is the Lord Jesus Christ that rules all the things of this world!
Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, [and upholding all things by the word of his power], when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
And Our Lord’s providence extends to all the natural world!
Psa 135:5 For I know that the LORD is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.
Psa 135:6 Whatsoever the LORD pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.
Psa 135:7 He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.
Even the little things God does in this world are sometimes more noticed by His enemies than His believers!