God’s Renewing Word of Promise
1 Samuel 4:1-11: During a war with the Philistines, the Israelites bring the Covenant Box to the battlefield. The Covenant Box contained the two flat stones on which were carved the Ten Commandments. In the ensuing battle, the Philistines capture the Covenant Box, and the sons of Eli are killed.
The Capture of the Covenant Box
1At that time the Philistines gathered to go to war against Israel, so the Israelites set out to fight them. The Israelites set up their camp at Ebenezer and the Philistines at Aphek. 2The Philistines attacked, and after fierce fighting they defeated the Israelites and killed about four thousand men on the battlefield. 3When the survivors came back to camp, the leaders of Israel said, “Why did the Lord let the Philistines defeat us today? Let’s go and bring the Lord‘s Covenant Box from Shiloh, so that he will go with us and save us from our enemies.” 4 So they sent messengers to Shiloh and got the Covenant Box of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned above the winged creatures. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, came along with the Covenant Box.
5When the Covenant Box arrived, the Israelites gave such a loud shout of joy that the earth shook. 6The Philistines heard the shouting and said, “Listen to all that shouting in the Hebrew camp! What does it mean?” When they found out that the Lord‘s Covenant Box had arrived in the Hebrew camp, 7they were afraid, and said, “A god has come into their camp! We’re lost! Nothing like this has ever happened to us before! 8Who can save us from those powerful gods? They are the gods who slaughtered the Egyptians in the desert! 9Be brave, Philistines! Fight like men, or we will become slaves to the Hebrews, just as they were our slaves. So fight like men!”
10The Philistines fought hard and defeated the Israelites, who went running to their homes. There was a great slaughter: thirty thousand Israelite soldiers were killed. 11God’s Covenant Box was captured, and Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were both killed.
Today’s Key Verse: 1 Samuel 4:3b
[The leaders of Israel said:] “Let’s go and bring the LORD’s Covenant Box from Shiloh, so that he will go with us and save us from our enemies.”
Why did the Israelites want the Covenant Box brought from Shiloh to the battlefield? How did the Philistines react when they heard that the Covenant Box had arrived? What words encouraged the Philistines to continue fighting (verse 9)?
Loving and merciful God, draw me close to you. Whenever I am downhearted, may I sense your presence and your sheltering love. In your holy name I pray. Amen.
And now, join us in praying for the next generations in Serbia to experience God’s love through God’s Word. Holy God, we lift up the efforts of the Bible Society of Serbia in partnership with local churches to bring the comfort and peace of your Word to a generation of young people who desperately need it. God, please reverse the trend of hopelessness, stress, and fear resulting from a high youth unemployment rate of 49.5%, a high rate of drug abuse, and 800,000 children living at or below the poverty line. May your Word continue to be introduced to children and youth in churches, summer camps, hospitals, and centers for drug addicts, along with weekly Bible reading groups, to help youth discover your love. Thank you, God, that many young lives will be impacted by your Word. Amen.
1 Samuel 4:12-22: Eli dies upon receiving word that the Covenant Box was captured by the Philistines.