If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 1 Samuel 4, Romans 4, Jeremiah 42, Psalm 18. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read 1 Samuel 4.
This passage records one of the darkest days in Israel’s history. Not only did God’s people lose in battle to the Philistines, they lost the Ark of the Covenant, the physical symbol of God’s presence with his people. And why did they lose it? Because they treated it as a good luck charm, a super-weapon of mass destruction rather than what it was intended to be—a place where atonement would be made for the people of God.
What was a terrible day for Israel nationally was also a horrible day for Eli and his family personally. Just as God had prophesied to Eli through the prophet in 1 Samuel 2:30-34, Eli’s family was cut out of the priesthood and his two sons died on the same day. Just as God had reaffirmed his prophecy through Samuel in chapter 3, so it happened here in 1 Samuel 4. Furthermore, the wife of Phinehas also died giving birth to their son, leaving the boy orphaned.
This is why we should respond in repentance when God speaks to us through is word about our sin. If we refuse to turn at God’s rebuke, he will bring correction into our lives.
This is also why we should not treat our faith as a good luck charm. God did not save you and call you to follow him to be disregarded and disobeyed for most of your life, then brought out to fix your life when things go badly. Instead, he saved us and called us so that we would bow before him in worship and honor, not only pleasing him with our prayers and our praise, but with a life of obedience to his word. It is easy for us to act like practical atheists, affirming God with our mouths, but disregarding his word and his ways until trouble comes into our lives. Then, like a spare tire, we pull God out and ask for his help. God is gracious and does help us in our needs and trials, but that should be an outgrowth of lives that are devoted to him, not our fix-all when our sins have put us in jeopardy.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.