Monday 19 September, 2016

1 Samuel 4:1b-11

The Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer. The Philistines camped at Aphek. 2 The Philistines brought their forces together to fight against Israel. As the fighting spread, the Israelites lost the battle to the Philistines. The Philistines killed about 4,000 of them on the field of battle. 3 The rest of the Israelite soldiers returned to camp. Then the elders asked them, “Why did the Lord let the Philistines win the battle over us today? Let’s bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh. Let’s take it with us. Then the Lord will save us from the power of our enemies.” 4 So the people sent men to Shiloh. They brought back the ark of the Lord’s covenant law. He sits there on his throne between the cherubim. The Lord is the one who rules over all. Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were with the ark of God’s covenant law. The ark was in Shiloh. 5 The ark of the Lord’s covenant law was brought into the camp. Then all the Israelites shouted so loudly that the ground shook. 6 The Philistines heard the noise. They asked, “What’s all that shouting about in the Hebrew camp?” Then the Philistines found out that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp. 7 So they were afraid. “A god has come into their camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has ever happened before. 8 How terrible it will be for us! Who will save us from the power of these mighty gods? They struck down the people of Egypt in the desert. They sent all kinds of plagues on them. 9 Philistines, be strong! Fight like men! If you don’t, you will come under the control of the Hebrews. You will become their slaves, just as they have been your slaves. Fight like men!” 10 So the Philistines fought. The Israelites lost the battle, and every man ran back to his tent. A large number of them were killed. Israel lost 30,000 soldiers who were on foot. 11 The ark of God was captured. And Eli’s two sons Hophni and Phinehas died.

A God idea or a “God-like” idea

Why did the Israelites fail? They did something that would appear to be an extension of their faith. It looked like they had put God right back in the middle of their victory plan.

But “their” lies the problem. It’s their victory plan. It appears very much like something God might suggest but it is not what he suggested. They did not go to God and ask “what should we do?”. In the Old Testament, every time the Israelites seek God and ask him what to do, mostly in what would seem impossible situations, He gives them a plan. And each time they follow this plan, as God has given it, they have Victory. Every time they don’t ask or don’t obey, they fail.

Lord, help me to come to you and ask you for your plans, so that I might be victorious in this life and bring you glory and honour.

Written by Zoe Stewart

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