Our ‘GLORY’, ‘HONOR’ and ‘VICTORY’ rests in GOD alone
March 21 Bible Reading: 1 Samuel Chapters 4-6
Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas' wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and gave birth, for her labor pains came upon her. And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, "Do not fear, for you have borne a son." But she did not answer, nor did she regard it. Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel!" because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. And she said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured." (1 Sam 4:19-22)
When disaster came to Israel, it came as a whirlwind from all directions. God had withdrawn His favor and presence from His people due to their disobedience and wayward living. When the Philistines came to fight against the Israelites, the initial death count was 4000 (v. 2). It was then that the Israelites realized that God had actually defeated them before the Philistines (v. 3a). They soon assumed that if they would carry the Ark of the Covenant (signifying God’s presence) with them to the battlefield, they would win the battle (vv. 3b-4).
The presence of the Ark of the Covenant among the Israelites got them so excited that they shouted loudly (like they did while marching around Jericho) and confidently went into the battlefield (vv. 5-6). Sadly, little did they realize that due to the sins of their High Priest, and his sons Hophni and Phinehas, God’s presence and His divine favor had departed from their midst. The Israelites were soundly defeated by the Philistines, 30,000 Israelite foot soldiers were killed, every Israelite ran back to his tent defeated, the Ark of God was captured by the Philistines, and the two sons of Eli (one of whom would have been the future High Priest of Israel) were killed as a result of God’s judgment (vv. 7-11).
The problems for the Israelites did not stop there – on hearing the news that the Ark of God had been captured, the 98-year old heavyset Eli fell backwards on his seat, broke his neck, and died (vv. 12-18). On hearing this sad news, Eli’s daughter-in-law delivered a baby boy, but died shortly after, and not before naming her son Ichabod (literally meaning Inglorious). The root of the name Ichabod is kavod, the Hebrew word for “glory” to which a negative is prefixed. Shiloh would never again be the center of the Israel’s worship!
The last words of Phinehas’ wife were: "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured" (v. 22). With the ark in enemy hands, the glory had indeed departed, for God’s abode among His people was represented by that symbol. The glory of God dwelt with Israel (Exodus 40:34–35; Romans 9:4), but their sin forced God to depart at an hour when they most needed Him (Psalms 78:56–64). Israel had neither the ark nor the glory of God; they were vulnerable and defeated by their enemies!
Let us remember that our glory, honor and victory also rest on God alone! If we are living a defeated life today, we have no one to blame but ourselves and the sin that has separated us from God. "Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor His ear heavy, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear." (Isaiah 59:1-2)