A man of Benjamin ran from the battle line and came to Shiloh the same day, with his clothes torn and with dirt on his head. When he arrived, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told the news, all the city cried out. When Eli heard the sound of the outcry, he said, “What is this uproar?” Then the man hurried and came and told Eli. Now Eli was ninety-eight years old and his eyes were set so that he could not see. And the man said to Eli, “I am he who has come from the battle; I fled from the battle today.” And he said, “How did it go, my son?” He who brought the news answered and said, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has also been a great defeat among the people. Your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.” As soon as he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years.
Comment: The news of the defeat and slaughter of the army was brought back to the central town of the people. The people when they heard the news cried (?screamed) out in dismay. The ark of God was taken; many women were widows; many children fatherless; and the people seemed deserted by the God who had made them His chosen people.
Eli, obviously sitting on a backless chair, heard the cry of the people and was told the news. His sons were dead. Did this remind him of what God had said about him and his family? He fell over backwards, presumably in shock, broke his neck and the judge aged 98, who had been the judge of Israel for 40 years died.
Prayer: We also go through shocking experiences, O God. Help us to never lose our simple trust in You.