In the book of 1st Samuel 4, Israel went to war with the philistines and in verse 1, Israel was defeated. I found interesting the choice of word used by the elders in the camp of the Israelites in verses 3… “wherefore hath the lord smitten us today before the philistines…”
They didn’t fight the lord but they attributed their defeated to God. The philistines were not considered a formidable foe to be feared.
Again they were defeated the second time with the Ark of Covenant present. Soldiers killed, the two Sons of Eli; Hophni and Phinehas captured and slaughtered and the Ark of Covenant taken. The second defeat seemed more grievous than the first even with the Ark physically present.
The news of the second defeat got back to Israel and interesting also was the responses that followed; Eli asked the Man who brought the news in verse 16…
“And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, what is there done, my son?
The Man replied…
“And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken.
And this happened to Eli… “And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died:
Shocked and overwhelmed by grief for the capture of the Ark of Covenant (not his two Sons) made Eli collapse, break his neck in the fall and died.
Eli’s daughter-in-law, who was due to deliver her baby that same period, heard about the defeat, the father-in-law’s death and the death of her husband. She delivered in pain and sorrow and named her child ICHABOD meaning the glory is departed from Israel. From verses 19 to 22 showed her attributing these disasters that has befallen her family and the nation of Israel at large on the capture of the Ark of Covenant and not on the defeat by the philistines.
Let’s take another example, Joseph. Potiphar gave Joseph authority over his household and Potiphar’s wife became sexually interested in joseph and this was Joseph’s reply to her… “But he refused and said unto his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house and he hath committed all that he hath to my hand. There is none greater in this house than I; neither hath he kept back anything from me but thee, because thou art his wife: how can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?”.
The person who was kind, receptive and generous to Joseph was Potiphar but Joseph was more afraid to cross hairs with God than with Potiphar himself.
These people understood God to a little extent and the importance of the presence of God in a life or situation; they understood it was a life and death matter. It was not something to be taken with levity.
I said “a little extent” because they did not have the Holy Spirit living in them. No wonder the bible says in Psalm 53:1 that the fool says in his heart that there is no God.
But we have the Holy Spirit and so we “ought” to have a better and closer relationship with God through our Lord Jesus Christ which should in turn translate into a higher and deeper reverential fear of the lord than it was in the past.
After all the bible says in Proverbs 1:7… “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” and Proverbs 2:5… “Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.”
Almighty and merciful Father, cause our hearts to fear You beyond all else and always. Let your awe keep us in line and in check over Sin, Righteousness and Holiness in Jesus name… Amen