1 Samuel 4:12-22
12 That same day a man from the tribe of Benjamin ran from the front lines of the battle. He went to Shiloh. His clothes were torn. He had dust on his head. 13 When he arrived, there was Eli sitting on his chair. He was by the side of the road. He was watching because his heart was really concerned about the ark of God. The man entered the town and told everyone what had happened. Then the whole town cried out. 14 Eli heard the people crying out. He asked, “What’s the meaning of all this noise?” The man hurried over to Eli. 15 Eli was 98 years old. His eyes were so bad he couldn’t see. 16 The man told Eli, “I’ve just come from the front lines of the battle. I just ran away from there today.” Eli asked, “What happened, son?” 17 The man who brought the news replied, “Israel ran away from the Philistines. Large numbers of men in the army were wounded or killed. Your two sons Hophni and Phinehas are also dead. And the ark of God has been captured.” 18 When the man spoke about the ark of God, Eli fell backward off his chair. He had been sitting by the side of the gate. When he fell, he broke his neck and died. He was old and fat. He had led Israel for 40 years. 19 The wife of Phinehas was pregnant. She was Eli’s daughter-in-law. It was near the time for her baby to be born. She heard the news that the ark of God had been captured. She heard that her father-in-law and her husband were dead. So she went into labor and had her baby. Her pain was more than she could bear. 20 As she was dying, the women helping her spoke up. They said, “Don’t be afraid. You have had a son.” But she didn’t reply. She didn’t pay any attention. 21 She named the boy Ichabod. She said, “The God of glory has left Israel.” She said it because the ark of God had been captured. She also said it because her father-in-law and her husband had died. 22 She said, “The God of glory has left Israel.” She said it because the ark of God had been captured.
A runner arrives from the battlefront with devastating news. Israel is defeated, the Ark of God captured & Eli’s sons killed. At the news, Eli himself dies. Then his daughter-in-law goes into labour and also dies. The prophecies of the death & judgement upon Eli & his family given in 2:27-34 & again in 3:11-14 are fulfilled.
The Ark – the glory of God – the presence of God as Israel knew it, is gone. This is the first time the Ark has been taken from Israel. This is what Eli and his daughter-in-law reacted to, God was gone.
We don’t ever have to have that fear. Jesus and the presence of God can not be taken from us by force. No matter where we go His presence is already there, it goes along with us and through the Holy Spirit lives in us. I can no longer imagine life without God, He is my constant, always with me, and my life with Him will never end.
I am forever grateful.
Written by Suzie Hodgson