Lately i received a question from a student and friend, talking about the capturing of the Ark of the Covenant, and what we can learn about it.

This prompted me to be reading the chapters of  1 Sam 4-7 once again.

In a nutshell that is what happened

1 Sam 4: 1-11- : The war between Israel and Philistines, the Ark of God was captured
1 Sam 4:12-22 : The Death of Eli and the Birth of Ichabod
1 Sam 5: The Ark of God in Ashod , Gath, Ekron, Plagues and Death followed  
1 Sam 6:1-19 : The Ark Of God return to Beth Shemesh, Israelites struck dead
1 Sam 6:20 – 1 sam 7:1 : The Ark in Kirjath Jearim  (20 Years)
1 Sam 7:2-17  : Samuel judges, Israel repented, war against Philistines won

In my course of revisiting the stories, I learnt that although there are things thats appears to be bad before us. But if we were to look at it with a broader perspective, you can see the hand of God even in the seemingly bad events.

We can see the how God make use of events to teach the Israelites and to call them back to him, like how a father chastise his children.

Facts : What makes the Israelites carry the Ark To Battle ?

I remember once when I was reading this, I was wondering, why did the Israelite thinks that carrying the Ark Of God can ensure victory? 1 Sam 4:3 seems to suggest they think by carrying the Ark of God into battle will save them from the battle.

Perhaps they are very inspired over all the many stories they heard of the Ark. Especially from the book of Joshua

1. Jos 3 , the priest carried the Ark into river Jordan, the people followed
2. Jos 6: The Israelites fought the battle of Jericho carrying the Ark around the city

Lesson 1 : It Is God Who Can Save,  Not The Ark.  

Although the Israelites are aware of the stories they did not understand that the real reason why the 2 miracles happens. The Ark represented the presence of God, and it is not God.

The Reason for the Israelites being able to cross the river Jordan at high tide, and to defeat the city of Jericho, lies not in the power of the Ark, but rather Gods instructions.

1. God Instructed Joshua How To Cross River Jordan With The Ark (Jos 3:7-8)
2. God Told Joshua March Around Jericho With The Ark (Jos 6:2-5)

Therefore the one that is powerful is not the Ark, but God words.

In fact, according to 1 Sam 7:3-4, the Israelites then were not following the Lord whole heartedly, when they are suffering from the consequences of their unfaithfulness, they think that by bringing the Ark of the Covenant into battle will tilt the battle in favour of them. Even if they are unfaithful to God.

Therefore, in order to teach the Israelites, God allowed the Ark Of God to be Captured by the enemies.

Lesson 2: Punishment To The House Of Eli.

Those who are familiar with the stories in 1 Samuel will know that Eli is the second last judge of Israel. He is actually a high priest, meaning that he is a descendant of Aaron.

Most Jewish historians agreed that Eli is the descendent of Ithamar based on the fact that the name Ahitub who was the grandson of Eli, is found in the genealogy of priest (1 Chron 6:7-8)

Being a descendent of Aaron, he is given the special privilege to serve in the Tabernacle as a high priest, it was suppose to be a position of great blessings, but yet Eli honoured his sons more than God. He had disobeyed God in the following matter

1. He turned did not stop his sons when they steal offerings (1 Sam 2:12-17)
2. He reprimanded his sons lightly when they committed immorality  (1 Sam 2:22-25)
3. He did not heed the warning of God when he sent 2 messengers to him
     i .The man of God (1 Sam 2:27-36 ) 
     ii. The boy Samuel (1 Sam 3:10-17) 

As the result, God executed his judgement on the house of Eli, when the 2 sons of Eli bore the ark into the battlefield, resulting their immediate death. At the same time God struck Eli dead, and his daughter in law died at childbirth.

Sometimes in our daily walk with God,  do we also commit the mistakes of Eli? Is there people whom we honour more than God? Eli loves his children more than anything else

Whenever I think of the story of Eli, this proverbs always appear

“Open rebuke is better
Than love carefully concealed.” – Solomon (Prov 27:5)

Let us learn to guide our children in the ways of the Lord  at the same time, let us learn to respect God in everything that we do.

The other lessons that I learn from Eli, is the fact that if he were to repent when God sends his messengers to him, perhaps the judgement would not have been so severe on his household.

So in our daily lives, when we listen to sermons or am reminded of the sins we have committed, let our hearts not be harden and listen to the call of God. Let us reconcile with him.  God is always abundant in his mercies, and will be willing to forgive.

Sometimes God is only waiting for his children to repent. Let us learn to return to the Lord often.