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. And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, “What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” And when they learned that the ark of the LORD had come to the camp, the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “A god has come into the camp.” And they said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness. Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, lest you become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you; be men and fight.”
So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and they fled, every man to his home. And there was a very great slaughter, for thirty thousand foot soldiers of Israel fell. And the ark of God was captured, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
Comment: As we saw yesterday the Israelites premature shout of triumph was based on a physical object and not upon the presence of God. The Philistines went into a quaking fear because they had made the same mistake. Their god was an idol so they assumed that the Israelites God was also an idol, so they were terrified. They had heard the history of Israel’s God’s actions in the past.
But give them credit as they said, in effect, ‘We’d rather fight than submit to servitude to that group’. And fight they did, and won at great cost to the Israelite army. Eli’s sons who had been previously judged by God also died. For me the lesson is that no thing, precious and honoured as it may be, acts as a substitute for God Himself.
Prayer: I bow at Your feet, O my God.