Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tuesday - 1 Samuel 4 - Ichabod

Some transitions are exciting and celebratory. Others are painful and frightening. This one was the latter... very painful. The nation of Israel was fighting with the Philistines. And, because the battle was not going well, they superstitiously sent for the Ark of God to be brought into their soldiers' camp. They supposed (incorrectly) that they couldn't lose with that sacred object among them. Well, they were wrong. Not only did the Ark's presence not help them, it made matters worse. God didn't approve of their move and didn't help them. And their enemies fought so much more vehemently because the Jews had the Ark with them. In the end the whole matter was a miserable failure... well, from man's perspective anyway.

God would have called this sequence of events a success though. He had purposed to dispose of Eli and his sons and to set up Samuel as His principal in Israel, so in this manner His plan was brought to fruition. But, the transition from Eli (old, fat, blind and weak) to Samuel (young, strong, devoted and powerful) was anything but painless. The Ark was taken by the Philistines, Hophni and Phinehas were killed, the armies of Israel were put to flight, Eli died in shock and his grandson, Ichabod, was born.

Now, here's the thing. Ichabod was a name that meant "the glory is departed" - but was it? God had Israel on an upward climb, not a downward slide. True, they didn't know it yet, but the end of 3 centuries of chaos was approaching. Samuel the prophet and David the king were the next 2 figures in God's plan for Israel. They still had some lessons to learn on their way to the top (think, Saul), but at least the cycle of defeat from the period of the judges was ending. 

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