By Rev Bill Woods
1 Samuel 4-6
In 1 Samuel 4, Israel’s fighting their archenemies, the Philistines.
We think “Philistine” is a derogatory term for someone uncultured or uncouth.
Really the Philistines were advanced, particularly in the area of metal-working.
They’d mastered this new technology and kept it a secret from everyone else, including the Israelites.
This meant in combat, the Philistines used swords and spears while Israel used primitive weapons made of stone and wood.
It’s like the Philistines had weapons of mass destruction. They trounced the Israelites.
1 Samuel 4:2 (NLT) — The Philistines attacked and defeated the army of Israel, killing 4,000 men.
When the battle was over, the surviving Israelites gathered to debrief — the question on everyone’s mind was, “WHAT HAPPENED? WHY? WHY DID THIS HAPPEN TO US?”
1 Samuel 4:3 (NLT) — After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the LORD allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?” Then they said, “Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it will save us from our enemies.”
Someone remembered their secret weapon: The Ark of the Covenant.
1 Samuel 4:4-5 (NLT)
4 So they sent men to Shiloh to bring the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, who is enthroned between the cherubim. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, were also there with the Ark of the Covenant of God.
5 When all the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud it made the ground shake!
As they prepared for their next battle, they brought the Ark with them.
The Ark of the Covenant was a box of acacia wood overlaid with gold.
It held the tablets with the Ten Commandments, a bowl of manna, and Aaron’s old staff . that budded.
On top were angels — the Israelites believed God literally sat, enthroned, on those 2 angels.
This was the manifest presence of God.
1 Samuel 4:5 (NLT) — When all the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud it made the ground shake!
So what if the Philistines had iron — Israel had the Ark!
Their rationale was, “OK, God, your honor is at stake now. If we lose this time, people won’t just think about Israel as losers; they’ll think Israel’s God is a loser too!
You don’t want the Philistines to think their god is greater than You, so You have to make us win now!”
THEY KNOW THEY CAN’T LOSE…….RIGHT?
UNBELIEVABLE! THE ISRAELITES LOST! IN FACT, THEY LOST BIG!
Their loss was so catastrophic that one man ran back to Shiloh with his clothes torn and face dirty, to report it to Eli, the old priest.
1 Samuel 4:12 (NLT) — A man from the tribe of Benjamin ran from the battlefield and arrived at Shiloh later that same day. He had torn his clothes and put dust on his head to show his grief.
Eli was blind, so he couldn’t see the man’s sorry state, but he was given four pieces of information that went from bad to worse:
The battle was so bad we had to run away.
Before we could run, we suffered heavy losses.
Both your sons were killed.
THEY GOT THE ARK!
1 Samuel 4:13-18 (NLT) — Eli was waiting beside the road to hear the news of the battle, for his heart trembled for the safety of the Ark of God. When the messenger arrived and told what had happened, an outcry resounded throughout the town.
14 “What is all the noise about?” Eli asked. The messenger rushed over to Eli,
15 who was ninety-eight years old and blind.
16 He said to Eli, “I have just come from the battlefield—I was there this very day.” “What happened, my son?” Eli demanded.
17 “Israel has been defeated by the Philistines,” the messenger replied. “The people have been slaughtered, and your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were also killed. And the Ark of God has been captured.”
18 When the messenger mentioned what had happened to the Ark of God, Eli fell backward from his seat beside the gate. He broke his neck and died, for he was old and overweight. He had been Israel’s judge for forty years.
The news so shocked fat Eli that he fell backwards off the wall where he sat and broke his neck and died.
His daughter-in-law heard the terrible news and went into premature labor, her death was imminent.
1 Samuel 4:19-22 (NLT)
19 Eli’s daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near her time of delivery. When she heard that the Ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and husband were dead, she went into labor and gave birth.
20 She died in childbirth, but before she passed away the midwives tried to encourage her. “Don’t be afraid,” they said. “You have a baby boy!” But she did not answer or pay attention to them.
21 She named the child Ichabod (which means “Where is the glory?”), for she said, “Israel’s glory is gone.” She named him this because the Ark of God had been captured and because her father-in-law and husband were dead.
22 Then she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the Ark of God has been captured.”
The midwife tried to encourage her saying there’s still hope because she was having a son.
She told the midwife to name the boy “ICHABOD,” because the glory of God had departed from Israel. (That’s what Ichabod means)
Ichabod is the negative form of “chabod” — the most important word in this story is “Chabod” meaning “weighty or heavy,” figuratively it means glory.
Chabod was everything majestic; where chabod was present there was dignity, meaning, purpose, and hope.
Now that’s all gone — the child’s name would serve as a reminder.
To lose the ark was much worse than just losing a battle — it wasn’t about just losing a religious relic or object of historical interest.
The Ark was where God sat to reign over His people!
With the Ark gone, God was gone!
This meant God either couldn’t hear, didn’t care, or wouldn’t help!
So had this whole God thing just been a lie?
Was Abraham just out looking at the stars talking to himself?
Did Moses really see a burning bush?
Were these all just fairy tales, and the Ark just a box?
Have we lived horrible lives, and now we’re all destined to die on the same day.
So as to not disillusion this little son of mine from the day he’s born — he’ll grow up an orphan, and every time someone says his name, it’ll remind him that the glory is gone. That’s the reality — ICHABOD!
God let the Philistines drag His Ark from Ebenezer to Ashdod.
He let them mock and taunt Him! “He couldn’t save His own people; He couldn’t even save Himself!”
That won’t be the last time something like this happens………..
What God does next is crazy.
– He allowed Himself to be captured.
1 Samuel 5:1-2 (NLT) — After the Philistines captured the Ark of God, they took it from the battleground at Ebenezer to the town of Ashdod. They carried the Ark of God into the temple of Dagon and placed it beside an idol of Dagon.
Unlike any other god, YAHWEH took on the suffering, loss, pain, embarrassment, and humiliation of His people. He carried their shame on His back.
WHAT KIND OF GOD WOULD DO SUCH A THING? WHAT WAS GOD GOING TO DO NOW?
The Philistines took the Ark to the temple of their god, Dagon.
They believed Dagon had triumphed over YAHWEH, so they put the Ark at the feet of this statue of Dagon.
They had a big feast, chanted all their favorite chants, told war stories, and went home.
That night something happened.
1 Samuel 5:3 (NLT ) — But when the citizens of Ashdod went to see it the next morning, Dagon had fallen with his face to the ground in front of the Ark of the LORD! So they took Dagon and put him in his place again.
When the priests came the next morning, they found their god, Dagon had fallen on his face before the Ark of YAHWEH.
Was it an accident? A coincidence?
It looked like Dagon was bowing down to worship the God of Israel!
That wasn’t good when you’re a priest of Dagon, (Imagine having to prop your god up!) so they dusted him off, propped him up, and held another all-day celebration.
Once again night came, and with the lights out, YAHWEH is left alone with Dagon.
1 Samuel 5:4 (NLT) — But the next morning the same thing happened—Dagon had fallen face down before the Ark of the LORD again. This time his head and hands had broken off and were lying in the doorway. Only the trunk of his body was left intact.
How surprised the priests must’ve been when next morning they made the same discovery — this time Dagon’s head and hands were severed and lain neatly across the threshold of his temple.
The rest of Dagon was bowing down to YAHWEH!
The play-by-play details of what took place remain a mystery, but we know this took place over the course of 3 days.
The first day was a dark day for Israel — it looked like God was defeated — the glory was gone — Heaven was silent — no one knew why. Some days are like that.
The 2nd day was the day of hidden combat, and it was shrouded in mystery. It was a day of distress and anxiety. Some days are like that too.
BUT THE 3RD DAY WAS THE LORD’S DAY!
On the 3rd day God does some of His best work at night! Remember that when you feel everything is dark and foreboding—God is still there!
On the 3rd day, joy comes in the morning!
On the 3rd day, stones get rolled away, idols get disarmed, and people are filled with awe and wonder!
Remember, it might seem like God’s defeated on Friday, but Sunday’s coming!
The Philistines in Ashdod were afflicted by a plague that’s kind of unseemly.
God plagued them with rats and Bubonic Plague (causes bleeding hemorrhoids).
Some say it was tumors — others say it was mice (the Hebrew words are similar), but some of the older translations are less afraid or ashamed to say it was hemorrhoids.
Yes! God struck them with hemorrhoids!
The Bible actually says they had hemorrhoids “in their secret parts”
1 Samuel 5:9 (KJV) And it was so, that, after they had carried it about, the hand of the LORD was against the city with a very great destruction: and he smote the men of the city, both small and great, and they had emerods in their secret parts.
“Secret parts” is the usual location for hemorrhoids, right?
Notice the irony here! People who know how to work with iron need a soft place to sit. God sure has a sense of humor!
In God’s Presence we are all embarrassingly human, and no amount of iron swords or spears will help when what is needed most is a doughnut pillow.
The Ashdod Town Council called a town meeting and decided maybe having the Ark in their city wasn’t all they thought it would be — maybe someone else should have a turn mocking the Ark.
They voted to send it to Gath.
It wasn’t long before everyone in Gath was looking for a soft place to sit.
The people of Gath decided they didn’t want to be selfish either so they’d let the people of Ekron have a turn with the Ark, but the Ekron people wouldn’t even let it in their gates.
Apparently word had spread quickly.
All the Philistine city leaders came together to figure how to handle this delicate situation.
They decided to just send the Ark back to Israel.
They called their priests together to ask how to do this. The priests recommended to appease this YAHWEH God with a bribe.
What did they recommend? 5 golden hemorrhoids and five golden mice.
1 Samuel 6:2-5 (KJV) — 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.
3 And they said, If ye send away the ark of the God of Israel, send it not empty; but in any wise return him a trespass offering: then ye shall be healed, and it shall
be known to you why his hand is not removed from you.
4 Then said they, What shall be the trespass offering which we shall return to him? They answered, Five golden emerods, and five golden mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines: for one plague was on you all, and on your lords. 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.
It’s interesting to see that the priests knew about how God had delivered Israel from Egypt and the Pharaoh:
1 Samuel 6:6 (NLT) — Don’t be stubborn and rebellious as Pharaoh and the Egyptians were. By the time God was finished with them, they were eager to let Israel go.
Just to be sure this wasn’t all a big coincidence, they come up with an ingenious plan: Get 2 milk cows still nursing calves and have never been yoked up before and hitch them to a cart.
They took their calves away from the cows and penned them up.
They loaded the Ark on the cart with the golden objects and just let it go.
They figure it would take a miracle for 2 cows to abandon their calves and know how to pull a cart all the way back to Israel.
The Bible says — 1 Samuel 6:12 (NLT) — And sure enough, without veering off in other directions, the cows went straight along the road toward Beth-shemesh, lowing as they went. The Philistine rulers followed them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh.
This crazy story has a lot of content and many deep theological truths we could check out, but to be honest, all I can think about is what a golden hemorrhoid must look like.
Moving right along!
To begin gleaning the lessons: The Israelites got off track when their thinking shifted from how glorious God is to how useful God might be!
They stopped thinking about how God deserved honor and worship and started seeing Him as someone who could be manipulated into doing what they wanted.
They thought they had God in a box — turns out, He doesn’t stay there or in anyone else’s neat, little box.
God refuses to be manipulated, and He can’t be controlled.
– He does the unexpected, and He goes where He wants.
God is described in many ways, but tame isn’t one of them.
This time He lets Himself be taken captive and made fun of — He disarms false gods, He humbles the proud, and He uses milk cows to get His work done!
Later the glory of God came to earth — not in a box, but in a human body.
We saw His glory, one of His friends wrote, but He didn’t match our expectations.
He had no money, no title, no power, and no army — and He was taken captive.
He was paraded through the streets to be mocked and taunted.
The people shouted — Luke 23:35-37 (NLT) — The crowd watched and the leaders scoffed. “He saved others,” they said, “let him save himself if he is really God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.”
36 The soldiers mocked him, too, by offering him a drink of sour wine.
37 They called out to him, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”
And Jesus took the name “Ichabod” as He cried out, “My God, My God! Why have You forsaken Me?”
HE DIED! HIS BODY WAS PUT IN ANOTHER CONTAINER — SEALED WITH A STONE. AND ON THE 3RD DAY, WE DISCOVER ONCE AGAIN WE SERVE A GOD WHO DOES SOME OF HIS BEST WORK AT NIGHT WHEN NO ONE IS AROUND!
A GOD PERFECTLY CAPABLE OF FINDING A WAY TO GET HIMSELF FREE!
A GOD WHO WON’T STAY IN THE CONFINEMENTS WE MAKE FOR HIM.
DON’T TRY TO KEEP GOD IN YOUR BOX!
One thing more: the cows were lowing as they went — mooing as they brought God back to His people.
The significance I see there is remembering when Jesus had a parade with Him as He entered Jerusalem.
People were shouting and singing, and the religious leaders tried to get Jesus to make them stop.
Jesus said, “If these people don’t shout, the rocks will!”
Maybe the cows knew if they didn’t moo, the stones would cry out.
WHEN GOD COMES BACK TO HIS PEOPLE, SOMEONE OR SOMETHING HAS TO MAKE SOME NOISE!
GET ALL EXCITED BECAUSE WE SERVE AN AWESOME GOD!
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There is Still Power in the Blood
Don't believe in the Devil? That's exactly where Satin wants you. He and his demonic hosts are working hard to deceive you because he knows his time is running out and he will soon be cast into the bottomless pit. One pastor told me to leave Satin alone because "If we leave him alone will leave us alone." That's dumb because he doesn't intend to leave you or your family alone. You must learn how to stand against him. In this book you will find how: -Demons enter in the first place. -How to be set free from demonic bondage. -How to stay free. -Pit falls Satin hopes you will fall into so he can destroy you and your family. -How to have a close walk with Jesus Christ and enjoy victory in your life. Remember: THERE IS STILL POWER IN THE BLOOD!