And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.
Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines. They encamped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines encamped at Aphek. The Philistines drew up in line against Israel, and when the battle spread, Israel was defeated before the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the field of battle. And when the people came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the LORD defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD here from Shiloh, that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.” So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.
As soon as the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded.
Comment: Our yesterday’s passage tells us that the Lord dealt with Samuel. Today we read that he had an influence on all Israel. But there is a break after the initial sentence stating that Israel went out against their enemies the Philistines, but there is no reference to them seeking God’s sanctioning of their action. I would have expected them to seek God’s will through Samuel.
But I note that Eli’s two very evil sons were still priests, even though they stood under the judgement of God, and maybe their advice had been sought. We know from before that they were very untrustworthy types!
Four thousand men is a lot to lose, but the Israelites lost that many to death and probably more to injury. They don’t turn to God or His prophet but rather to a symbol. A very precious and honoured symbol but still only a symbol. The appearance of the treasured ark and the two sons of Eli on the battlefield caused an earthshaking cheer of expected triumph. What can we expect next?
Prayer: Help us not to seek You as an after-event Rescuer but as One to be followed.