1 Samuel 4:1b-11
Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. 2 The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield. 3 When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.” 4 So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 5 When the ark of the Lord’s covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. 6 Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?” When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid. “A god has come into the camp,” they said. “Oh no! Nothing like this has happened before. 8 We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. 9 Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!” 10 So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
“Ouch” I said aloud as I hung up from the call.
I had just been told that I wasn’t successful in my application for the job that I had been interviewed for. It’s not the first time I’d missed out on a job, but in this instance, I was sure that this job was for me.
What really hurt though was that they said they had decided to advertise the position again… That meant that I wasn’t just beaten by someone with more experience, or better interview skills. It meant that they just thought that I wasn’t cut out for the job!!
“Why God, Why!?” I demanded staring in to space, bordering between anguish and rage.
I had done all the right things. I sought God on whether to apply, I confirmed that it lined up with the call that I believed He had on my life, I prayed before and after the interview. Yet, still I failed.
1 Samuel 4 has many layers. On the surface it is about the Israelites being defeated by the people who God had called them to drive out of the Promised land and the death of two evil influencers in Israel, Hophni and Phinehas. But deeper down, it is about the attempts of God’s people to do the right thing, but in a foolish way. It is about failing when they think they are doing the right thing.
As I reflect on this passage and on times of my life where I have failed at something, I realise that God reveals my pride in those moments. It’s at these times when I realise I am angry at God for opposing me, even though in my own eyes, at the time, I thought I was doing all the right things. God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6) becomes real to me in these moments.
Why does God oppose me when I am proud? Because he wants grace to abound in my life! He doesn’t want to just pour grace on me, but he wants it to flow through me into the lives of all those around me.
Thank You God for your revelation this morning.
Written by Ps Justin Ware