Dec 10, 2023 By: Pastor Joseph LoSardo Series: Twilight Kingdom Scripture: 1 Samuel 4
Chapters 4 through 7 of 1 Samuel comprise a single story in the form of a lengthy chiasm. Using similar words and phrases, the author introduces the drama in chapter 4, describing the loss of the ark of the covenant, which he then resolves in chapter 7, with the return of the ark. In 1 Samuel 4, Israel’s initial defeat and loss of 4,000 soldiers at the hand of the Philistines occasions their decision to get the ark from Shiloh and use it as a “lucky charm” in battle. Their defeat leads them to ask the right question in verse 3: Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? But their answer, let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies, demonstrated superstition rather than faith and repentance. They treated the ark as a proverbial “rabbit’s foot,” resulting in an even greater defeat: 30,000 slaughtered in battle, the ark captured, and Eli’s two sons killed. The news of this resulted in the death of Eli and the premature birth of his grandson, Ichabod, meaning “no glory;” or stated as a question: “where is the glory?” or answer: “the glory has departed.” Chapter 4 is important in the narrative of Samuel, as it reveals the fulfillment of the prophecies made to Eli in chapters 2 and 3. It also sets up the story of the ark which serves as a parable for what God is doing with His people, in the rise of Samuel and the kingdom.